Thursday, 27 June 2013

Anime 18 Review Link: Apocalypse Zero (1996)


Dir. Toshihiro Hirano

If there is one other thing to add to this review, I will say that a work that provokes any kind of reaction and "wakes" you from viewing it from a safe distance, where you can forgot it immediately afterwards, is worth taking seriously even if the material could be viewed as dubious to other opinions. This bizarre and ultra-gross anime, if I had viewed it back when I was between sixteen or seventeen, would probably be viewed as garbage. Now, rather than thinking I've regressed in my thoughts by giving it praise, I think its more the realisation - as someone who became obsessed with provocative art like the Dada movement before films, as mentioned in the review - that even in the most foul of areas a streak of subversion can be seen and given some merit. Back then, I didn't try to defend films that were clearly badly made like I did now, or defend works like this anime with questionable content, and probably would be viewed as having a better taste in films if one views cinema through the IMDB Top 100 list of films. I also however had such a narrow minded view of cinema and art in general that presumed anything that didn't follow a clear narrative or clear point was bad, including films by the likes of Jean-Luc Godard and truly great works of abstract cinema. Now my willingness to suggest that I find something like Apocalypse Zero to be a work of worth has also developed my ability to see the virtues of the likes of Godard and abstract cinema too because, after some of the films I've seen and covered on this blog, I'm prepared for films to take directions in content and presentation that the presumably "artless" works had. The erratic nature of the less defended films only differ from the celebrated works because they're repugnant to most or ended up the way they were by accident. That this anime may actually be intentionally getting a reaction out of the viewer, as I try to explain in the review, makes me want to defend it more.

As one find in live action, exploitation films, the most base of material can be the most daring in poking at taboos other filmmakers, or creators, are too cowardly to tackle. Yes, they can end up being offensively conservative at times, but others push the content in ways that make them impossible to view as celebrating bland stereotypes. In simple terms, sometimes the best weapon is to purposely show things so deeply "wrong", and in this case make it look like a Saturday morning cartoon on crack, and attack good taste even if the purpose of the anime was to just be an entertainment product. Rather than merely be offended or baffled by it, its worth actually thinking about why being offended by the images in a work happens and see if it has virtue from it. Plus, frankly people, including myself, get a perverse pleasure from these transgression and weird images, and to not admit it is lying to yourself. Sometimes its more healthier to submit yourself to something that isn't just blood for blood's sake, but something legitimately bonkers and throws images like "Double Big Tit Bomb" and other distorted animated images at your retinas. Far from viewing Apocalypse Zero as just an excuse to view Japanese culture as "peculiar", something like this is just in an entirely different orbit to anything else regardless of its country of origin. And far from being conservative, I seriously doubt anyone, except those who is going to celebrate how perverse the anime is, will come out as a fan of it. 


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