Goddamn

If there is one thing anyone would have learned about me by now, is that I am a very easily impressed person. You pitch me a show or a game or a band with some ridiculous concept that makes me either laugh or say “that’s awesome,” and it gets points with me, even if it sucks. In this case, an an*me about rally racing. Yeah, that sounds pretty cool. Despite my proclamation last year to start watching real life rally racing, I uh, I forgot. As such, it’s a blind spot in my auto sports fandom. So hey, this will have to be a quick and dirty substitute. Anyways, what is this show called?

It is called: “Goddamn.”

Goddamn

Now, if you don’t think I am dropping everything I’m doing to watch a show called “Goddamn,” you clearly do not know a goddamn thing about me. Of course I’m going to watch this! The title is a swear word! That’s funny.

Goddamn is a two episode OVA that is itself based on a manga series that only ran for two years. It follows the exploits of Gen Todoroki, a rally driver who has exceptional behind the wheel. Exceptional talent that is only displayed when he isn’t crashing his car, which is all the time. Despite the somewhat minor issue of “not being able to finish a race,” Gen is still offered a spot on a hot new rally team. A young Nikita Mazepin takes notes. The crux of this OVA is his attempt at winning the Safari Rally Kenya Championship, despite sucking and his navigator hating his guts.

The thing about Goddamn’s art style is that it’s pretty inconsistent. Characters can be a bit iffy at times, and backgrounds are extremely flat and simplistic. However, the cars are detailed to such a degree that you would think someone on the animation team was jerking off to it. It’s clear that the budget was spent on making these vehicles as realistic as humanly possible. Probably because these are all actual cars being portrayed here. In fact, the car driven by Gen is a Ford Sierra Cosworth, which also goes a long towards explaining why Gen’s car becomes so thoroughly fucked up as the race progresses (Japanese manufacturers are notorious for not allowing their cars to be portrayed as damaged in any way, which is also why racing games like Gran Turismo don’t feature any real noticeable car damage. Western manufacturers are far more relaxed on this.).

needless to say, a bulk of this post will be screenshots of cars

Another thing about Goddamn is its pacing. On the plus side, something is always happening on-screen, with little in the way of filler (if any at all). A race, a character being introduced, seedy behind the scenes politics with the team owners, there is constant progression. The problem though, is that because this is only episodes, there’s no time for anything to rest. A lot of characters get introduced at once, and good fucking luck trying to remember any of their names. Some I had to go back and re-watch to learn, some I had to look up online, and a couple of them just so happened to have their names on the cars they drove, otherwise I’d have no idea who they were. With that, there is very, very little in the way of character development. This feels very much like a show for people who have already read the manga, rather than the usual purpose of an OVA to get people into a manga. 99% of anyone on-screen at any given time has a personality that begins and ends with “I like racing.”  So you end up with characters like “Joe” and “Arnold.” Though credit must be given to Gen’s navigator, who is named, no shit, Dick Van Dyke. Sadly, he is unrelated to the famous comedian/Amiga enthusiast. His character arc is “being very racist” then “okay the Japanese guy isn’t that bad” in short order.

No, really.

At the very least, because this is a show about racing, you can have two episodes dedicated to a single race and call it good, so that helps the extremely fast pace.

Because of this, I’m not doing the point-by-point synopsis; it’s a race where cars drive fast, and there’s drama because the main characters are trying to win the race. Despite the total lack of other plot development, it’s fun enough. It’s not a realistic take on racing; as Gen and his navigator Rov (figured I would introduce characters as suddenly as the OVA) drive down the face of a mountain without somehow dying or killing anyone else on the way down, and at one point drives head-first into a fucking collapsed tree to try and get another car’s rear out from under it. The kind of goofy shit that you can admire.

At least, you could admire it if the ending wasn’t a giant middle finger telling you that you just wasted an hour watching this fucking thing. Now, I get that sometimes, an OVA will end on a cliffhanger, sometimes even a real downer of an ending. For example, Berserk ended on what could be vastly undersold as a downer, but the proceeding episodes didn’t feel as though Guts was simply spinning his wheels. Goddamn’s ending sees the team getting 3rd place, then having to drop out of the rest of the season, as their parent company has withdrawn from the auto sports industry. In other words, everything that every character had worked so hard to do to get to this point has meant absolutely nothing. That just…sucks. I’m sure the manga is fine, but damn, this OVA is so pointless. Goddamn is an hour of looking at well drawn cars. That’s cool, I guess. But that’s really all this show had going for it, which is a shame, as I’m not sure there are any other series’ about Rally racing, and that’s a niche that can stand to be filled more. What a shame.

I can’t recommend that you see Goddamn. The art is mostly okay and the animation is fine, but the lack of any plot and that dogshit ending really ruin it. You can find it on YouTube. I’m not linking it, because you should find better uses of your time. Yeah, that’s…that’s it.

I’ll finish this by posting more screenshots of cars and blatant product placement to maintain a sense of realism despite a significant lack of it during the actual rally.

 

i’m watching the virtua fighter an*me

People seemed to enjoy my last write up on the world of Japanese animation. As such, I figured that I would do it again. After all, There Has Never Been A Better Time To Watch Something On Tubi. Also, never been a better time to watch the Virtua Fighter an*me…several weeks after the rerelease of Virtua Fighter 5 on the PS4, and during a time where the only fighting game I’ve played for the last week is Guilty Gear Strive (I’m on the 10th floor, btw, making me a high-level player). Like The Tower of Druaga, I heard that this adaptation sucked too. But as we all found out, Druaga got good after the first episode (follow-up: having watching several more episodes since, the show has improved even more). Maybe this will also be the case? Let’s find out!

When I think about it, this show in and of itself is not a bad idea; Virtua Fighter is a series notoriously known for having zero plot development in the games themselves, leaving it to supplemental materials, like the instruction manual. So, to have something like this, that can expand upon characters that are otherwise simply faces given to real-life fighting styles, can be a good thing. I guess it will all come down to its execution.

Episode 1- Akira of the Hakkyoku-ken

As the title gives away, this episode introduces us to Akira Yuki. Unlike the games, where Akira is a stoic, no-nonsense Karate Man, Akira in the show is a goofy, hapless idiot with a bottomless stomach who also uses dumb luck to take out guys trying to kill him. Basically like a less charming Goku. He’s at this restaurant, taking an all-you-can-eat challenge so as to get free food, since he is broke.

While this is all going on, Pai Chan, who is now apparently a teenage girl instead of a fully grown woman who stars in martial arts films, is being chased by a bunch of dudes because of reasons. To get away, she runs into the restaurant that Akira is eating at.

Hijinks ensue.

I need to make it clear that is a painfully unfunny sequence. The worst kind of wacky bull shit. Hey look at all this chaos going on, but Akira is too busy trying to stuff his face to care! HA HA! Bad guys are trying to beat him up, so he deftly avoids their blows and catches slowly falling dumplings in his mouth! Hilarious!! It works when Jackie Chan does it in his movies, but it always seems to fall flat whenever it happens in an an*me. It comes across as obnoxious, rather than humorous. Maybe it’s the subtlety of Jackie’s performance, and not him constantly making that expression that I can only describe as the A-Word equivalent of a Soy Face:

funny thing: the subtitles started bugging out here. this is funny because i was watching the english dub, and therefore had subtitles turned off.

Anyways, Akira and Pai end up accidentally kissing in the fracas and it’s so funny because Akira ate so many dumplings that his breath smells like garlic and this was Pai’s first kiss and it sucked so she beats him up and the bad guys kidnap Pai and I hate this show.

I…

Look, confession time: I’ve been working on this post for the last three days. I have watched one episode per day. Virtua Fighter starts bad, and manages to get even worse. I hate the writing. I hate the bad animation. I hate the shitty 4Kids voice acting. And while I’m at it, fuck this too:

There’s a stupid villain who isn’t in any of the games, and he sounds like Stewie Griffin. Then Akira disguises himself as a racist Chinese stereotype to break Pai out of the evil Kung-Fu jail, before he suddenly gets all serious and starts to actually fight, complete with a Magical Girl-esque transformation.

The whole crux of Virtua Fighter is that it is, you know, a 1-on-1 fighting game. Combat is the focus of the whole thing. The an*me? 1 minute fight scenes where it is very obvious that this show was made on a small budget, with static images with speed lines that cut before you see fists making contact with a face; the kind of thing that makes it clear this was meant for kids, with the typical American censorship of the era. Then the episode ends with Akira chasing Pai around with a plate of garlic dumplings, because THAT IS FUNNY.

I’m tapping out. Like I said, I watched three episodes of this crap, and I don’t feel like going back and re-watching them so I can get screenshots. Don’t watch Virtua Fighter. Play the game instead; it’s free for PS Plus users until August. Have a few matches before you do what I did and start playing Strive again, marveling at the latter’s amazing netcode. Play Guilty Gear Strive. Watch literally any other an*me in the world. Do not waste your time with goddamn Virtua Fighter.

miura

I was in the middle of writing a different blog post here tonight when the news broke with the sudden passing of Kentaro Miura. Miura was known for creating the manga series Berserk, or as my friends call it, That Fucking Thing Ramona Won’t Stop Bugging Us To Read. I’ve talked about it elsewhere, but never really here on my site, but I am a huge fan of Berserk. It’s late, and I’m still honestly in shock over the news, so I figured I would just talk about Berserk and its influence on me personally.

My introduction to Berserk was actually about twenty years ago. I had seen some screenshots of the Dreamcast game, and the body horror element caught my eye. I didn’t really think about Berserk much after that; I didn’t care for the game at the time because I was an immature idiot who simply did not know how to Get Good at games, and I didn’t finish it until a few years ago. My introduction to Berserk proper, as in the manga, would have been around 2017. I had seen a couple of friends talk about the series, and I was bored one night, so I went to one of those sketchy scanslation web sites and proceeded to binge the entire series until the early morning.

Finally sitting down to read Berserk was a moment in my life that felt like it had been a long time coming. I had never, and still have not, ever found a piece of media more relatable than Berserk. It’s the story of a man, Guts, born in literal filth, abused within a horrible upbringing, trying to find his place world. When he finally does, it’s all taken away in a horrific, traumatic way, leaving him broken, angry, and with the inability to trust anyone anymore. All Guts wants is revenge. He’s led by anger, occasionally stopping to do the right thing in a real jerk-off way. His friends are dead. The only person he’s ever truly loved is catatonic. Every night, he’s attacked by demons and spirits, summoned by a painful mark on his body, and sometimes even possessed by a manifestation of his own rage. During the day time, Guts is considered a criminal, and is frequently being arrested or attacked. All this, because he wanted a place to finally belong, and believed the words of a charismatic sociopath who ultimately betrayed him. Of course I loved the story of Berserk!

I can only think about how many years I’ve been fueled by my own anger. A desire for some sense of “justice,” whatever the fuck that might mean, for things that happened to me, and the people in my life. The self-loathing at feeling used. Not knowing if the next person who came along was legitimate, or if they had an angle.

Then there’s the next part of the story. Guts eventually amasses a small party of people who are just as fucked up and weird as he is. Before, Berserk was a story of a violent edgelord on a quest for revenge. Now? Now it’s a story of finding hope in an increasingly fucked world, making life better for the people around you, and you start to question that large screaming voice in your head: would revenge really fix everything? Let me tell you, it is hard to ignore the years of pain. It is hard to not feel small amounts of joy when those who have harmed you stumble slightly (see example: that whole thing I wrote when a bunch of shitheads were being shitty to Nathalie Lawhead). It is hard not to go back to being a reclusive asshole who doesn’t need nobody, even though you have a whole group of friends behind you. Berserk is important, and an influence on my work and my life because of all of this.

This news hurts as a fan. Hurts even more as an artist. Something that I have based my entire life around, especially in recent years, is being real. Miura was an artist who was 100% real. He made a series that was problematic as fuck, loaded with sex, violence, and sexual violence. But he didn’t do it simply for shock value (barring one particular arc that we don’t talk about and ultimately means nothing to the greater plot). No, there was a reason for the graphic decapitations and rape and torture and fountains of blood shooting out of monster and human alike. It was to highlight the corruption of authority; of politics and religion. To highlight the futility of war. To highlight things like xenophobia and racism. It was brutality with a message. There are few things in this world that manage to both be hard to look at, and also the most beautiful work of art you’ve ever seen, but Berserk did that. I love it.

The news of Kentaro Miura’s death fucking sucks. There’s no other real way to describe it. It hurts more than I thought it would, hurts more than any recent “notable” deaths. I can only hope that I can take that influence of Miura’s in a positive direction, and I can make something that’s at least a fraction as good as Berserk someday.

i’m watching the druaga an*me

A confession: despite being a massive Weaboo, I am actually way, way behind on my an*me watching. You name any recent series, and I have definitely not watched it. Hell, I’ve only gotten around to watching Inuyasha last night. It’s not from a lack of knowledge or resources that I don’t watch stuff, I’ve simply never made the time for it. I really do need to rectify this problem.

While watching Inuyasha last night with a couple of my friends (Miffy and Bachelor), we decided to also check the anim- sorry, we can’t to use the “A-Word,” the Japanese Animation listings on Tubi, as There Has Never Been A Better Time To Watch Something On Tubi. For the record, Inuyasha is only on Netflix (in regards to official channels), and fuck that. Anyways, while I was looking around, I noticed that there was an ani- fuck, a cartoon series from Japan based on The Tower of Druaga. You know, hey, I’m kind of known for my fandom for Druaga, and I really to need to watch some more ani- Japanimation anyway, so why not check it out? Probably because Bachelor told me, in no uncertain terms, “ohhhhh it’s bad, it’s really fucking bad!” Not that I’m the kind of person to disregard the opinions and advice of my friends, but I needed to see this for myself. It wasn’t that I thought it would secretly be good; the episode thumbnails looked really ugly, but I figured that it would be fun to watch this garbage and talk about it on my web site. This show fucking sucks! Let’s talk about it!

Episode 1- Wait, is this a fucking Isekai!?

Episode 1 is an extremely fast-paced, extremely abridged telling of a new generation of heroes going to the titular tower to fight Druaga. The new hero is a young man named Jil, which I guess is short for Jilgamesh, and his party of companions that he treats like shit. This is clearly meant to be a comedy, as there are a number of sight gags and goofy lines that come close to breaking the fourth wall. The problem here is that none of this shit is funny. You get stuff like, “My traveling companion whose name I can’t remember has been killed! Oh well, fuck it, let’s keep going.” Then when Jil does do the cliched “I’m full of burning anger and I’m going to kill the villain with the support of everyone I’ve met along the way,” it’s because a random inn keeper shows up on the top floor and is killed by Druaga. That’s some Family Guy level non-sequitur shit. Jil is a complete sociopath weirdo who sucks. He knocks out another one of his party members, leaving him to be killed by an oncoming army of monsters, and calling it a brave sacrifice.

yeah, thanks

And we definitely can’t forget about this:

Oh, a joke about sexual assault. That’s cool.

The writing is really bad and painfully unfunny. I haven’t really touched on the art yet. The art is pretty bad, too. It’s not super ugly, but it’s so utterly generic, and lacking in any real striking detail. The animation itself really relies on coasting along with static images on speed lines or on blinding white voids, with the rest of the episode mostly being characters standing around talking.

folks, this is not a smear frame. this was a five second lingering shot.

Maybe the budget for this wasn’t that high, but if that’s the case, why not make an intentionally lo-fi action-comedy using the cutesy style of the original games? This promotional material for the arcade game could just as easily be used for a short 15-20 minute show with sight gags and maybe a little less getting hard over a potential rape.

Though I guess if you do that, you can’t have blatant references to Gainax’s seminal works:

End of the episode happens: it was all a dream. Jilgamesh dreamt that he was a total dickhead who somehow saved the day by turning into an EVA, and is actually a shitty newbie whose lack of combat skills have completely fucked over the party he began the episode traveling with.

This sucked. The opening Ska theme song was alright, and I do like how the previews for the next episode uses the original Druaga graphics. My question is though: the intro led me to believe that this was an Isekai (character being transported to a fictional world and being stuck there). There was no Isekai stuff here. Whatever, let’s check out episode 2 and then never watch this again.

Episode 2- Wait, this got better somehow!?

Episode 2 takes a drastic turn. The animation is better. The tone of the show turns into a drama, with bits of humor, with a joke that’s actually pretty good. We start by seeing Jil and company get rescued from the cliffhanger that episode 1 ended on, then him getting fired and having to go back to the lower ranks of being an adventurer. When all the grizzled veterans laugh at him for being a little kid with no experience, he then proceeds to start talking some shit. Then a couple of vets start beating the shit out of him, but then freak out and back off when he starts no-selling their offense; I mean, he got hit over the head with a large rock and brushed it off.

Later, a young woman finds Jilgamesh sitting on a bench in an alley. And here it is, folks: the first joke in The Tower of Druaga that actually lands:

The girl who picks him up is Kaaya, who he teams up with after waking up from the ass kicking that he got. They are also joined by Ahmey, a lady knight who just so happens to be there. Unfortunately, that particular bit of characterization is not expanded upon, at least not in this episode. Before they all set out to climb the tower, Jil looks for his old party, which includes his brother Neeba, which I guess is short for Neebamesh. Instead, Jil overhears them talking about assassinating King Gilgamesh, the hero from the original game. Of course, he does not overhear the context of them trying to foil the assassination plot, so he goes back to Kaaya and Ahmey to launch a counter to this plot.

I’m summarizing the plot here because, holy shit, I was expecting more ugly garbage with shitty rape jokes and an unlikable protagonist. Now it’s like, an actual show? Granted, it’s still not amazing or anything, but it’s also not the fucking doldrums of episode 1. I was expecting to tear into this series, as the beginning of this post stated (letting the cat out of the bag and letting you know that I sometimes write these posts while experiencing the media in question in real time), but now I’m in this state of “fuck, should I keep watching this?” Episode 2 ended on a cliffhanger, and I still don’t know if this series is an Isekai, or if the opening was just some weird stylish shit that threw me off.

Now, I still think that a cutesy show in the style of the old promotional materials would be better, but this show did a 180 on me, and left me somewhat impressed. I might check out episode 3 sometime (only 12 episodes in the first season of two), just to see if the show gets better, or if remains kind of mediocre, but clearing the bar established by the first episode. I would still recommend playing the games over watching this, but I mean, if you got a couple hours to kill, you could probably do worse.

Damn, I’m thinking I really need to get on the trolley in regards to watching more anim- sorry, series of moving pictures drawn and storyboarded from the Land of the Rising Sun. Go full-on Weeb this Summer.

Right, I did mention that the opening theme to this show is pretty cool. Take a listen: