Written by Fred Patten, and printed on a Xerox photocopier, February 25, 1999. Intended for Apa L, 1,763rd Distribution, LASFS Meeting No 3211, February 25th, 1999. Address: 11863 West Jefferson Boulevard, apt. 2, Culver City, California, 90230-6322. Telephone: (310) 827-3335.
|Aussicon Three in 1999!||Chicon 2000 in 2000!||Salamander Press No 2190.|
feature: Neon Genesis Evangelion: Death (True)2 (Kadokawa, 1998) [subtitled]
Utena, La Fillette Revolutionnaire: l'Apocalypse, #08, 'Curry Provokes a High Trip'
ReBoot, v.3.2.1, 'Icons'
Silent Möbius (TV Series), #2, 'Decide'
Hyper Police, #17, 'Children Are Giggly, Natsuki Is Dizzy'
Those Who Hunt Elves II, #5, 'Those Who Scatter Peas'
Flame of Recca, #2, 'Flames of the Wind God: Dangerous Temptation!!'
Virgin Fleet; The Sacred Virgin Fleet, #2, 'Second Operation: Snow in May'
Feature: Neon Genesis Evangelion: Death (True)2 (Kadokawa, 1998)
Feature: Neon Genesis Evangelion: Rebirth (Kadokawa, 1998)
Addition to January Program;
Silent Möbius (TV series), #1, 'Awake'
The Cartoon/Fantasy Organization seems to have regained one of its former members who dropped out when the club moved from Redondo Beach to Sun Valley in 1993. Tony Victorino was not able to follow us at the time, but he showed up at the December meeting, having finally "got transportation", and has now been to three meetings in a row. For our February (262nd) meeting last Saturday, he brought the innards of Don Bluth's old Dragon's Lair animated arcade game for the members to play. It was antiquated by today's standards but C/FOers still had a lot of fun with it.
This month's feature was one of Japan's most controversial animated features of all time. We watched the first half of it twice, the first time in an amateurishly subtitled version which considerably degraded the video image, and the second time from an untranslated laser disc to see the picture. The closest American TV comparisons are Twin Peaks or the final episode of The Prisoner. Evangelion (one of those programs where the complete title translates actually as New Century Evangelion, but the official Japanese translation is Neon Genesis Evangelion) started our as another giant robot TV serial where the Earth is being destroyed by monsters from space, and humanity's only defense is a series of giant humanoid battle suits that can only be piloted by teenagers with psionic powers. The initial significant distinction was that Evangelion was much more somber than the usual gung-ho military-heroic giant-robot dramas. Shinji, the teen protagonist, hated being a robot pilot from the first episode, and got more sullen and withdrawn as the series progressed. Having most of his teen companions getting progressively messily killed in action didn't help his mood any. The final TV episode just abandoned the story, leaving the previous episode's final cliffhanger unresolved. It started out with Shinji walking into a room that was empty except for a chair under a spotlight, sitting down, and undergoing a surrealistic interrogation that seems a cross between a brainwashing session and a psychiatric analysis. The visuals shifted back & forth between completed animation and the animators' raw sketches. Fans were left to argue over its meaning; did Shinji crack up under the stress of fighting to save Earth, or was he crazy from the start and the whole series was just his delusion, or were the animators telling the fans to "get a life"? The theatrical feature was supposed to explain the meaning of the final TV episode. It begins with an elaboration of one of the most shocking scenes from the TV series, the nuclear destruction of Tokyo-3, where one of the young girl robot-pilots-in-training sees her father crisped in front of her. But it is really 15 years later, and she is reminiscing about this while having intimate relations with a lover. The lover's expression indicates that he feels that her mood has spoiled the evening. This is one of the jollier moments before the movie gets into masturbation and decapitations (not necessarily 15 years later; the action keeps shifting through time). A notable recurring theme is a continual cutting from the "plot" to scenes of the four main characters, both before and after their deaths, assembled into a chamber quartet and playing Johann Pachelbel's "Canon in D Major". The second theatrical feature was supposed to explain the meaning of the first theatrical feature. Ha, ha! But since Evangelion does contain specific ingroup references to Alfred Bester, Philip K. Dick, Harlan Ellison, and Cordwainer Smith (like Rick Sternbach kept sneaking references to The Dirty Pair into Star Trek: The Next Generation), maybe a s-f club like the LASFS could interpret Evangelion better than the average anime fan group. Would it be worth scheduling Evangelion after the next old movie serial?
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Speaking of controversy in anime, I mentioned in ¡RR! #1754 that I am doing a lot of writing for the new anime magazine Manga Max, which started in December. The first issue contained a review of a new annual convention in Birmingham. It looks innocuous enough to me, but Editor Jonathan Clements has received three death threats. The con committee have protested the reviewer's obvious bias against them and threatened to ban him &/or Manga Max from this year's con. On the other hand, Clements has also gotten several offers of sexual favors in return for promises of favorable reviews of cons & fanzines. Are today's fans taking themselves too seriously? I got a phone call from Frederik Schodt, author of Manga! Manga! The World of Japanese Comics, and a letter from Dr. John A. Lent of Temple University in Pennsylvania (who used to write for WittyWorld, and who attends those international humor expositions in places like the Balkans and Cuba), complementing my articles. Schodt appreciates that Manga Max "knows the difference between a real review and a press release" Lent wants me to write for his academic journals on comic art, now that WittyWorld is defunct, and he may interview me as a "pioneer of comic and anime fandoms". Can I send him copies of all my fanzines so he can index them? (All 40 years worth?!) So I am generally pleased.
Birmingham's Grand Hotel, a long-term fan favorite opened its doors once again for the October Ayacon, a chance for anime-lovers to spend vast amounts of money in the dealers' rooms and watch loads of anime. As always, the Grand and its staff performed excellently but this debut convention by local group Anime Central had a few teething problems. While there was a good spread of material in the video programme, the screening list fell foul of haphazard scheduling and poor information. Con book pages spent talking about London's video arcades and anime not screened at the event would have been better filled with a guide. As it was, only Jim McLennan's late-night video show provided adequate data about what was being shown. It was impressive to see anime like Hana Prince of the Sun jostling for space with Brainpowerd, but the only way for a neophyte to get any idea of the content was to turn up and watch. In the case of Cowboy Bebop, this meant staying up until 5:00am with your fingers crossed. There was even an opportunity to see End of Evangelion, although the copy was very bad quality, subtitled in Chinese and scheduled opposite the masquerade.
Non-video events varied; the masquerade, the Namco-sponsored games room and Helen McCarthy's guest speech went well, but the auction and the majority of the panels were poorly structured. Overall, attendee morale was high, and the Ayacon team are to be commended for a good first attempt. Let's hope that they address their failings next year and help reverse the trend of British anime conventions becoming no more than weekend-long video marathons.
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Brief Comments: Joe Zeff: "Portia" sounds more like an oversight (like someone absent-mindedly writing "Republican" when they meant "Democratic", or Brahms when they meant Beethoven), or a publisher's error that the author missed when proofreading, than like conscious ignorance on the author's part. John Hertz: I would like to see that London Sunday Times article about World War II propagandistic phoney postage stamps. Could you send me a copy, or cite the date so I can find it at the library? ## Japanese grammar commonly puts subtitles ahead of titles, as in Bishojo Senshi Sailor Moon (Pretty Young Girl Warrior Sailor Moon) rather than Sailor Moon, the Pretty Young Girl Warrior; or Kagaku Ninja Tai Gatchaman (Scientific Ninja from Team Gatchaman) rather than The Gatchaman Scientific Ninja Team. This makes alphabetization a headache. June Moffatt: The library has over a dozen Chinese primers, all in Mandarin. So "nihao" is at least Mandarin. It turns out to be properly two words, or a compound word, ni hao, from "ni" (you) and "hao" (good, well); wishing you well.