Monday, 21 January 2013

The ‘Coffee Drinker’s Favourite’ of Anime [The Humanoid (1986)]

From http://cdn03.animenewsnetwork.com/images/cms/buried-treasure/21262/humanoid5.jpg


Dir. Shin’ichi Masaki
Japan
Work #19 of The ‘Worst’ of Cinema

From http://static.minitokyo.net/downloads/16/00/230016.jpg

[Note – The version watched for this review was English dub only. Since anime dubbing can affect an anime’s nature itself and one’s opinion on it, bare it in mind while reading this review and if you want to see it afterwards.]

Considering this is the third shot form anime I’ve reviewed for this season, it both shows that there are a disarming amount of begotten anime like this in existence, even if I admit I enjoy The Humanoid greatly, and that I am biased with picking this sort of thing to cover even if it sadly doesn’t have as much release here in Britain as it did in the USA. This sort of OVA or short length anime are small, full bursts of colour, ideas and optimistic promise, that of successes remembered today, the sadly forgotten, or the misguided folly. It’s beautiful, both sincerely and perversely, to look at stuff like this where they were being churned out for the Japanese video market and anything could get through. If you can get past the large eyes and the sexualisation of schoolgirls, anime, especially the older works of the eighties and the nineties, is just as much a smorgasbord of intellectual concepts to rival art cinema, and psychotronica to rival cult and exploitation cinema. It is able to have analysis of the human existence and man’s place in the world on the same shelf as sex ninjas and, in an example I would love to review one day, God as a space grub who somehow requires a spaceship to travel around space.

From http://i94.photobucket.com/albums/l115/Skellor/BT/BT2/humanoid4.png

Is something like The Humanoid of artistic merit though? To be honest, to only view cinema through an intellectual’s mindset of ‘serious’ films is as likely to be as clichéd, strained and potentially kitsch as these lesser known animations fostered upon Western distributors. To accept this gaudy material exists allows one to admit how gaudy and tacky real life can be as well and to be able to appreciate great art even more as well as things like this anime. The Humanoid is viewed by most anime fans as worthless junk. I like it though. It’s not an ugly mess like Roots Search (1986), or utterly clunky like Psychic Wars (1991). It is completely unoriginal to the extreme, but that doesn’t stop me from enjoying it.

From http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-t0MOG7gbBmg/TWSx63wWkUI/AAAAAAAAACU/WrEzOJjNeA8/s1600/the-humanoid-4.png

On a harmonious planet, Governor Proud – called so for his selflessness and modesty – plans to awaken a giant spaceship to take his people back to their home world, despite the warnings of his peers of how it nearly destroyed large parts of the lush, green planet when last activated. His desire to have both keys to activate the ship will cause him to cross two Earthmen, Dr. Watson and his daughter, and his creation Antoinette, a robotic woman who slowly learns what the human emotion of ‘love’ means. At forty five minutes it trundles along and never reaches anything spectacular, pretty coloured and yet very badly animated in places. Why do I enjoy this anime despite its glaring flaws? Beyond personal taste, it’s that it is so innocent in its content – not offensive, not stupid, not mind numbingly dull – and such a product of the eighties. It’s only real contribution to anime’s history is that Antoinette’s design was by Hajime Sorayama, famous for his art involving female robots, including the album cover for Aerosmith’s Just Push Play (2001). The idea of this titular humanoid and the story of the whole anime is meat-and-potatoes sci-fi, a story of good versus evil, and the folly of one’s ego, going back to the beginnings of mankind in ancient myths, continually returned to and made into this anime. The robot learns to be human and the heroes include two space jockeys - one of which, to paraphrase the Anime World Order podcast and a quote from their review of this anime, has the hair and moustache of a black Burt Reynolds – who must go against the deluded Governor Proud and his robot soldiers. Its slightly muddled in its plotting and generic, but with its eighties synth theme about dancing in the rain, its delighting for me to watch something that came from a period, not just from Japan, where animation like this was cranked out continually. I can enjoy its one dimensional plotting, despite it being silly and one dimensional, because it never insults my intelligence or makes me want to gouge my eyes out. Its fun even if I’m one of the only people who can enjoy it. It did elicit laughter quite a few times out of me, but that caused me to embrace it even more.

From http://i.ytimg.com/vi/KXcN2cpTlmM/0.jpg

Then there is the obsession with coffee through the film. It’s not as if the English voice actors just lost their minds from tiredness and decided to worship the thing that was keeping them going, but in scenes of the anime itself characters are continually drinking coffee. Not a particular brand, but as propaganda for the caffeinated bean in general. It’s always hilarious when the dialogue goes into talking about the black gold, although one worries about the safety of this natural Eden of a planet when its populous, judging from this anime, is either between a chemical induced A.D.D. or a depressive caffeine crash. It’s always wonderful when an anime, no matter how lacking it may be everywhere else within it, can have a quirk this amusing to it, adding to The Humanoid’s charm. It is another work I’ve reviewed that is for a very acquired taste only, but I have to admire something this cheerfully empty despite the fact I shouldn’t.

From http://i94.photobucket.com/albums/l115/Skellor/BT/BT2/humanoid1.png

Now if you excuse me, I have my coffee to finish. And if you don’t believe me, here is a montage of coffee related quotes from The Humanoid someone has spliced together and has appeared on YouTube. Who knew subliminal advertising about hot liquids of a refreshing taste could be so barefaced and better for it?

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