Saturday, October 07, 2006

Urotsukidoji Kanketsu-Hen: The Lost Episode that should Stay Lost

I'm going to do a very dumb thing. A thing that will confuse, shock, possibly even bore people, right here and now. I'm going to review something that I plan to make money on... and I've very few nice things to say about it.

Why would I do that? Well... you'll see, in due time.

Urotsukidoji broke my hentai cherry, and hard. I was about 14 years old, had money to spend, and had heard a lot of people on that there internet talking about 'Legend of the Overfiend', saying it was a controversial masterpiece. I've always loved horror films - since I was about 3 or 4 years old and watched trashy crap like Creepshow and The Toxic Avenger on my father's lap. I was as horny as most 14 year olds were - if not moreso - and the concept of anime porn horror had me as excited as was humanly possible. Not nessicarily as hard. Just pumped. No, wait, that's sounding even worse. But I have wanked to Akemi and Megumi, so screw it, interpret that however the hell you want. Anyway, I bought the tape - the nice man behind the counter not once questioning me for an ID - got home, and took a look at what I thought would be a cool little flick that would be on par with the stuff that, at the time, was playing on the Sci-Fi Chanel or so.

What I saw was nothing short of a masterpiece. Theatrical quality animation, a story that didn't talk down to the intented horny horror junky demographic (yo!), and one that was as epic as anything seen before in the works of H. P. Lovecraft, Clive Barker or action packed 80's childrens animation - all of which it liberally stole concepts and visions from to create a sort of world in which schoolgirls are gang-raped by tendril endowed monsters who are soon after blown apart by flying, fireball throwing beasts from other dimensions. Sure, it sounds cheesy at face value, but it was the execution that mattered. The Chojin (or "Overfiend" of the translated title), god of gods, is said to be reborn once every 3,000 years to unite the realms of Man, Demon (Makai) and Beast (Juujinkai) to create an eternal kingdom. Amano Jyaku, a man from the Beast realm, has been searching for the Chojin for over 300 years... and thinks he's found him in the scent of highschool student Nagumo TATSUO, who by dumb luck is courting the school idol Akemi ITOU. Things get more complex as a dickless creep named Nikki makes a pact with some demons for a chance to be with Akemi, and Amano wages his own war with Suikakujyu, a regal and powerful demon who knows that the Chojin isn't the heavenly creature Amano and his people believe it to be. By the end of the video, the world as we know it was already gone, the concept of Gods, Demons and Man were turned flat on their ass, and I had just seen a piece of animation no less important to the world than Akira, The End of Evangelion or Jin-Roh. The fact that it was pornographic - or "almost" in the case of the theatrical version - was and is irrelevant. Urotsukidoji is simply one of the most amazing pieces of Golden Age Anime*, and to belittle it as anything less is misleading and a damned shame.

*The "Golden Age" of anime has been defined by plenty of experts as the period from the mid 1980's to the mid 1990's, when producers were willing to let animators do pretty much whatever the hell they wanted to. Anime, by which I mean Japanese animation and nothing else, was somewhat stilted and primitive up until the end of the 1980's. Animation began to shift to more profitable (ie; less dark and expensive - more focused on the general Japanese public than the hardcore otaku mentality), mostly television themed productions in the mid 90's, thus signifying the end of an era. Certainly animation made to this day CAN be unique and outside the norm, but the number of productions is going way up, while the number of unique productions is ever dwindling. Anyway, feel free to yell at me for the term Golden Age. Then kiss my ass.


After the original series/first movie (which was a total re-edit of the first 3 OVA's, known simply as Chojin Densetsu Urotsukidoji from 1987 to 1989), 4 sequels were created. That's right. 4. First was Shin Chojin Densetsu Urotsukidoji Matai-Den (Legend of the Demon Womb, OVA 4-5/International Complete Version 2), then came Chojin Densetsu Urotsukidoji Mirai-Hen (Return of the Overfiend, OVA 6-9/Director's Edition), and then Chojin Densetsu Urotsukidoji Hourou-Hen (Inferno Road, OVA 10-12). To most fans outside of Japan, and perhaps plenty therein, that's the end of it. 12 episodes, a "movie" version for the first 3 parts... and that's all there is to comment on. People assuming that's the end of it are, sadly, mistaken. I say "sadly" for many reasons...

First of all, there are 2 more "movies" to be had. The term 'movie' implies that it was actually cut on film and shown in theatres. Using this logic, only Chojin Densetsu Urotsukidoji Original Gekijo-Ban (the first 3 OVA's re-edited in to a movie) counts. The International Kanzen-Ban (International Complete Version) of Urotsukidoji Mirai-Hen, which was released internationally in Hong Kong, the United Kingom, the United States, France and Spain, was never shown theatrically by any real stretch. Regardless, it's the full story in 90 minutes, no missing footage, a brand new scene filling in the villain's past, and it's uncensored. Truth be told, unless you NEED the Japanese credits (like I do) there's no reason to bother watching the Japanese version. Then there's the Director's Edition of Mirai-Hen. It's uncensored - even in Japan - and while I love every second of this saga, I'll admit that the 120 minute version flies right by, while the 200 minute version does tend to drag it's tentacles with the never ending and not plot affecting scenes of rape. I have NO problem watching rape in my epic fantasy/horror anime (and non-anime for that matter). I just ask that it have something to do with the plot... or at least be unique/hawt. 5 minute sequences of Alector having a loaded machine gun stuffed up her cunt are thus forgiven. Endless scenes of makemono feeding their limp tentacles up Pedro's ass are not. Anyway, the short version is better paced anf has it's positive qualities, but I think the uncut OVA's - warts and all - are the way to go. Though the Director's Edition of Mirai-Hen has never been released on DVD, and is probably the most under-seen part of the saga to ever be available subtitled - none of this should be news to people who are Urotsukidoji fans.

Where it starts getting interesting is the Inferno Road Jyain Kanzen-Ban, and Chojin Densetsu Urotsukidoji Kyo-O Hen. Jyainzen-Ban (Wickedly Lewd Complete Version - I kid you not!) was the "movie" version of Inferno Road... but with a twist. A new final scene, running about 12 minutes, was comissioned from the famous Madhouse animation studio, responsible for titles popular in the Western world ranging from X to Perfect Blue, Ninja Scroll, Paranoia Agent, the American Spawn cartoon and plenty others: ironically, while the credits acknowledge Madhouse, the Madhouse website doesn't mention it a once. This alternate ending, which involved the Kyo-O having sex with the Chojin for their final battle, reads right in to amasingly dumb and hilarious territory when - after going Super Saiyan 4! - the Chojin is revealed to be a mere demon king (a Makai-O, specfically) who's been hiding in Akemi's womb to drink the blood of both the Kyo-O and the Chojin! OMGWTFBBQBULLSHIT! Seriously, if that revalation weren't goofy enough, the fact that Himi becomes a sultry babe who RAPES THE TENTACLE MONSTER TO DEATH should have everyone who's seen at least 10 minutes of ANY of the former OVA's rolling their eyes. Yes, Megumi could do it. But Megumi launches fireballs out of her snatch, and while lovable and hot in her own way, is also something of a worn out whore. Himi cries and makes people kill themselves. Totally different powers going on there.

But this new and ending was just the tip of the retarded iceburg. When all was said and done, you'd hope for this this kind of subtlety and genius.

After this alternate ending got people's jaws dropping (out of WTF?! rather than OMG!!, if you follow me), a brand new OVA was released. While director Hideki TAKAYAMA came back, script writer Noboru AIKAWA was still missing in action after most of the staff got kicked off of the last episode of Inferno Road (character designers, you name it - the only consistants in OVA 12 were the producers and music, really). His presence was one out of desperation, perhaps... and while Takayama hadn't let us down before, I don't think he could have saved the poor character designs, bad writing, and incredibly limited budget. But I'm getting ahead of myself. The new script isn't *all* bad... it's just not any good, y'know?

After Himi's humping of the Makai-O sent Amano Jyaku, Megumi, and Kuroko version 2 (see OVA 12) 100 years in the past. Wait... no, it was 20 years after Osaka was trashed that Mirai-Hen and Horo-Hen happened. But whatever. 100 years in the past, wink wink nudge nudge and all that. Osaka Castle - Osaka being spelled with kanji meaning "Center of the World" (if memory serves), by the way - is going crazy, and Akemi is spewing massive ammounts of glowing feminine gravy into the sky. Along with flashes of lightning, some serious shiznat's going down. Amano Jyaku, before sensing this disturbance, finds that Nagumo is still kicking around as the Dai Kaujuu we last saw at the end of Uro 1, who was destroyed in Uro 3 with his own cocks. But this is 80 years before Uro 1 happened, so it's all good. Yeah. Okay. Nagumo doesn't recognize Amano - duh!, being that he's the Hakai no Oni and all - and tries to give him a tasty penis blast. Amano splits, and finds Akemi getting down on her bad self, because when you give birth to a god, you masturbate in the process. Who am I to argue with the holy mother of the new humanity? Osaka gets semi-blown up by the birth of the True, Absolutely True, We Mean It This Time Chojin...

...who turns out to be a Freudian spaceship.

A spaceship. I swear to fucking God. It's a giant penis/vagina hybrid, presented in moderately impressive CGI, which literally fucks itself on the inside to give birth to new creatures. I'll get to those creatures shortly.

Anyway, after the Chojin Spaceship shows up, shit goes BAD. Humans and demons start raping girls side by side, beasts starts killing humans and demons, girls get raped by girls... well, that didn't happen, but had more episodes been produced, that's totally what would have happened. In the center of all this is Amano Jyaku in Thundercat form, tearing the shit out of everything in his path - human, demon, even fellow Juujin get tore up by his madness. And not "tore up" in the binge drinking sense either.

So, after snapping to his senses, Megumi tells him the obvious; that creatures from the 3 realms went crazy after the Chojin was born, which is when that giant floaty thing showed up. Huh. You don't say. Anyway, Amano goes to Osaka Castle and finds Akemi resting peacefully. Taking her... well, home I guess, the four are attacked by a bunch of punks that look like a Sailormoon villain and a Power Ranger had freaky buttsex. Totally freaky. Like the kind involving boiled eggs and champagne. Yeah, you know damn well what you did that one time. Well that's what these two did. 'Cept nobody laughed when the Pink Ranger shat out a dozen of these jokers:

After whupping their sorry asses, Amano notes - loudly, after Megumi notices their faces are all the same, "these things don't have a dick or pussy!" It's moments like this that make me glad I translate rare Japanese porn instead of any more conventional job. Had I never seen this one sequence, my life may have never had meaning. Tomohiro NISHIMURA, who weilds an Osaka accent the way that Connery beats you over the head with a grin with his Scottsman schtick, is a moderately to highly respected voice actor in Japan, having appeared in everything from Gundam to Berserk to the Death Note TV series that started last week, as of this writing. He's an amazing talent, and hearing him lower himself to this awesomely retarded shit proves that he's willing to go the distance to get his paycheck. You could argue that actors should have a limit where they tell the producers to go fuck themselves, but I'd rather have a dependable (if not amazing) actor like Samuel L. Jackson appearing in literally any retarded thing anyone can think of than some dickhead who decided they're "too classy" to appear in anything like that. You're an actor. You whore your talents for entertainment. You aren't too good for anything, and stop using body doubles and show your damn ass! Pussies. Nishimura'd do it... though nobody's want to see his aging behind these days. My point is, hearing his distinguished career come down to him giving a brief speech about how there's no "mama to chinchin" is simply the funniest goddamn thing I've ever had the pleasure of translating.

But I'm getting off track. That's right, these things are totally genderless; and as their commander, an androgynous nekkid' thing that explains to Amano that the things he just killed were, infact, the shinjin, the promised New Humanity first mentioned in Mirai-Hen. Without desire, without despair, without love or hatred, they are mindless extentions of the Chojin's creations (like the thing they're speaking with - who appears to simply be a more intelligent - and naked - form of shinjin), and as such are the perfect beings. They are Gods children, and do God's will; which happens to be destroying every living thing on the planet. Certainly this was the plan from the start, something Amano knew... but that this nameless andoroginy creates a giant vagina-trilobite-porcopine that takes a pot-shot at Amano, and then rapes Megumi - with a penis AND a vagina for good measure - sets up Amano to take a trip to the Graveard of Souls, where... Himi's waiting?

Okay. It should be noted that before the episode proper begins, it prefaces the whole OVA by saying that "these events take place after the Urotsukidoji Original Theatrical Version". The problem with that is that Himi, the Kyo-O (Lord of Chaos) is still around. For Himi to still be around, Mirai-Hen and Horo-Hen pretty much have to have to have happened. This is the second time that the adorable Himi will be brought up, and while Himi's a cutie and all that... she's just making the already convoluted Urotsukidoji continuity vomit all over itself. Considering that the original Urotsukidoji took place in 198X, and the sequels 199X/20 years after that, it's actually fairly difficult to upset me on this sort of thing. But if this OVA takes place 20 years after 198X... well... sorry guys, you lost me on that one. So, Himi reveals that all the souls killed by the Chojin wait in a sort of eternal Hell right here - which looks suspiciously like the Makai realm we saw in the original series rather than something... y'know. Worse. (Or new.) Himi explains that, sure enough, every 3,000 years the Chojin re-creates humanity... and every time, the Chojin brings nothing but hatred and violence with it, its children fighting and sinning until, 3,000 years later, it comes back to repeat the process until, one of these damn times, it gets it right. This pisses off Amano Jyaku greatly, who proclaimes that "human lives are not the gods' playthings!" (...dude, where have you been?), and flies off in to a firey rage, apparently now infused with the Kyo-O's power.

While I know that Amano's pissed, learning that the Chojin is more of a plague than a savior... that's sort of been the logical conclusion from day one. The legend was "every 3,000 years", as I remember it. Japanese is a vague language, and this could be chalked up to an improper translation, but really, if every 3,000 years the god of gods comes and does his thing... Amano should have seen this coming. While Amano was wrong in the original series that the Chojin was a benevolent and kindly God who would bring peace and harmony to the existing races, I guess the point they're driving at is that Amano's pissed that the GOOD aspect of humanity (Akemi, Nagumi, himself, etc.) won't be spared, as he was promised at the end of the original series. I'd be kinda' pissed when a god that promised me sanctuary decided I was a useless meatbag too... but if this is the (only logical) reason, the OVA makes absolutely no attempt at driving it home.

Oh, right. Exactly how Amano suddenly learns to use the Kyo-O's power isn't revealed. Not that he does for a while, but this would (logically) be the time he'd figure it out. Maybe that firey rage he huffs off in is the visual representation of this? Whatever. Accepting this retarded crap is no worse than accepting that Himi became a La Blue Girl sidekick.

Back in the land of the living, Amano's healed up in an underground (literally) hospital, where a groups of silly humans calling themselves a Special Forces unit tells Amano to leave everything to them. As expected, these guys are screwed, so let's move on. Once they get outside, Akemi sees Nagumo, and runs up to see her 100 foot tall horny (and wingey) lover. He picks her up, and Akemi has a long, beautiful dialogue... that she basically had in the original series, too. Ugh. The creativity is simply astounding. But while in the original the unborn Chojin stopped Akemi from being squashed in to a sort of sticky Akemi stew, it's Amano who saves her from vaporization. This moment is particularly uncharacteristic of... pretty much everything we've seen up until now in Urotsukidoji. Akemi wanted to die in the original because the world would be destroyed for the sake of her unborn child. I'd be bummed myself about that sort of thing. Yet when she wakes up she's her cheerful, almost painfully sweet self rather than the saddened romantic martyr we were privy to in Nagumo's hand years earlier. (80 years earlier. I'm going to go back and check this scene, but I'm POSITIVE that's what Amano said. WTF? Is -he- retarded now?) This scene, rather than tying up the loose ends left over from Urotsukidoji, feels like the saddest kind of rehash imaginable. We don't even see Nagumo cry, which was arguably the best part of that sequence, so they didn't even rip it off RIGHT!

This retarded, never ending sequence is exactly why Urotsukidoji Kankatsu-Hen sucks... it isn't the worst hentai ever written. No, no, not even CLOSE. Even an awful episode of Urotsukidoji still beats the average epidose of something like Angel of Darkness or Demon Beast Invasion or, god forbid, Alien from the Darkness or Fobia. The problem here is two-fold. For one, even the least impressive saga - Inferno Road/Horo-Hen, hands down - is still okay. It loses focus of the story before it, and doesn't go off on a long enough tangent to quite become its own fun little thing either. It's still well written, well produced, well animated stuff, and had the situations and characters been changed so that it was its own series entirely, it still would be one of the most amusing tentacle shows Japan's come up with. The problem is, it wasn't. It was part of Urotsukidoji, which has a certain high standard of storytelling. I know a lot of you who haven't watched any actual tentacle porn probably think I'm nuts, but it's true. The fact that Urotsukidoji was played in theatres (edited to remove the sight of penis) should speak worlds about it. Not because every movie is good. Far from it. But because a pornographic video series was popular and respected enough to actually have a road show - or at the very least a 35mm print shown in Shinjuku. (The TV commercials said "roadshow", so I can only hope it got play in a few cities. Who knows though.) This has not happened since for a hentai series to the best of my knowledge, and I honestly don't think it ever will. As a good friend of mine made the mistake of doing, he watched every horror themed hentai he could, waiting for "the next Urotsukidoji". It's sort of like waiting for the next Jesus Christ. It's not going to happen, and any savior, preacher or whatever you look at is going to inevitably be a dissapointment. Watching Demon Beast Invasion after Urotsukidoji is sorta' like listening to Al Sharpton preach if you saw the Son of God doing his thing back when; just won't cut it. There hasn't been anything to achieve the same pinacle of greatness in adult animation since (and no, Bible Black doesn't even come CLOSE, try as it may)... and I doubt there ever will be. Urotsukidoji was a risk, an adult piece of entertainment that was written and directed like it wasn't "just porn". And finding anyone willing to do that - nowadays especially, but even back in the 70's when pornography was still considered cinematic art - isn't easy. "Real" directors don't want to make porn, and neither do "real" actors, "real" screenwriters, etc. In Japan it's a little different, where you can make hardcore pr0n and then do a kids TV movie next week without batting an eye... but making good pornography? You need budget and a dedicated staff to do that. And an audience willing to watch it seriously rather than just filling up the sperm bank for 10 minutes or so. Urotsukidoji got all of this right... and nothing else quite has since.

This is the biggest problem with Kankatsu-Hen. It's an average mid 90's hentai. That's a terrible thing to say, but fuck it, it's the truth. Urotsukidoji isn't an average anything. It's this difference in quality that kills any chance Kankatsu-Hen had for achieving any sort of success. Ironically, this isn't the only Maeda series to be killed about this time; Gedo Gakuen: Blackboard Jungle (Nightmare Campus)'s 5th episode was actually the start of "Gedo Gakuen Z". After 1 episode that didn't push the plot forward an inch, fans didn't give a rats ass. Nor should they. Gedo Gakuen, much like most of Maeda's manga adaptations (there are exceptions...), was a piece of genius. The sequel had BETTER animation, more graphic violence and sex, and in short had the potential to totally kick it's predocessors ass. Problem was the producers didn't think the story mattered, and thus ignored the lingering questions totally. Fans were pissed, the show ended after 1 episode. Much like Kankatsu-Hen, GG Z never got a DVD release in Japan. At least GG Z has a US DVD release, if you're that interested. You shouldn't be. Trust me. But more on where Kankatsu-Hen goes even furtherly wrong in a bit; I need to finish ripping the plot apart.

So, Amano Jyaku saves Akemi, and then leaves her with Megumi to have a little chat with the Good Ship Chojin. He's met with a welcoming party that includes a giant tentacle that shoots lasers, and a mask-less, laser-less shinjin who fires lasers out of its eyes shouting "ena!" As if the sentai-esque version wasn't gay enough, this fruity little number literally looks like a Sailormoon extra villain. I wish I was joking. I really, really do. Amano Jyaku gives it a Kyo-O Brand Enema, and it blows up. Yeah... Amano should have kicked it's ass regardless of Himi's energy hanging around, waiting to be focused in to a psyonic nut-punch. If there's anything good going on here, it's that to control its children the Chojin's commander becomes a hermaphrodite and literally fucks itself while it chants. This is exactly the sort of freaked out insanity I'd expect from Urotsukidoji, and it would have been even cooler of the animation... actually matched. The lighting and poses change so randomly I honestly thought it was 2 characters for a while. (More on THAT later...) Anyway, "Ena" gets its ass kicked, and the herm-thing keels over dead, at which point we see a glowing ball of energy... the very core of the Chojin.

Many people - thanks to the Urotsukidoji FAQ (a mostly handy resource, I'll admit) and Wikipedia - believe that the androge/hermaphrodite thing is, infact, the Chojin. They're wrong. The glowing ball of energy deep inside the spaceship is the heart and mind of the Chojin. The ship itself is the vehicle which pushes the gods will forward. Being a god - and this isn't a bad theory in and of itself - doesn't mean you need to have a physical form. Now, if that's the case, why is Himi trapped in the body of a little girl? While the Chojin being a buff form of Nagumo didn't make too much sense (apart from the ideals of the Chojin and Kyo-O; the Chojin was male, the Kyo-O female), having the Chojin be a massive spaceship that spits out children makes far less sense with the Kyo-O just being... Himi. They are God and Devil, Yin and Yang, and there's no explanation for this? What the freakin' hell?! Anyway, it needs to be noted that this innacuracy is a common misconception, and an easy one unless you translate the dialogue the whole way through. The andoroges are simply the children of the Chojin's will; the Chojin itself is a giant Freudian spaceship that performs the will of it's creamy green center.

...god damn I wish I was making this up.

So, the Chojin tells Amano Jyaku that the new world will come with him in it or not, and ejaculates him out in to the world below. The final scene is an apocalyptic nightmare of epic proportions... on a small budget, anyway. Shinjin armies mow down human, beast and demonkind alike, Nagumo continues to level the remaining shelters of Japan, and Amano stands triumphantly on the remains of his world, telling the Chojin that he will defeat him... one way or another.

Cue dramatic music, awesome title card, credits.

With the storytelling out of the way, let me explain the other big problem Urotsukidoji Kankatsu-Hen has to contend with; bad animation. When I say "bad", I mean both "inconsistant" and "unfinished". While the first 15 minutes is pretty boss - including unique CGI aided transformation sequences and a fairly cool erotic birthing sequence (never before has spewing green pussy juice been THAT hot), things go downhill with Nagumo, when he sometimes has his tentacles and sometimes doesn't. This is a problem that the original and Mirai-Hen never seemed to have; Nagumo's cocks are pretty goddamn noticable, being a mile long a piece, and just not animating them at random says to me your animation staff has pretty poor checks going on. But that's not the half of it. A bigger problem is the color check, where Amano's skin tone changes from a pale yellow that's more befitting of old paper or maybe a corpse, to an ugly orange color that looks like Hulk Hogan was used as the color model. Orange Goblin indeed. The random moments they do get his skin color right appear to be purely accidental, and while you can argue lighting effects to a certain degree, the only scenes that are right are nighttime/dark scenes... so... what the fuck?

Here's a picture showing off Amano's many chameleon-like skin colors:

Seriously... what the hell is going on here? The LEAST they could do is get his character model right once or twice.


Another problem is that the animation for a few scenes was clearly never finished. While Urotsukidoji was never afraid to include video editing to what was a shot on film OVA - basically the way all OVA's are edited - the editing here includes bad slow-motion, random still shots that are clearly just paused, and most importantly the scene where a father goes crazy and tries to kill his kids, only to be stabbed in the eye with chopsticks and jump out a window, is clearly from a workprint - as is the scene of the Chojin in the sky preceding this sequence. Animation workprints (called animatics) will usually include the lead animation cels - so a guy getting punched might only be 2 frames or so - and this is given to the voice actors to give their performance. When they're done, the animation is completed with the help of a fill in animator, who animates the other 20 or so frames of the punch. The scene with dad going crazy is taken from a badly scratched and dirty film print, which (interestingly...) is usually how workprints look. While bad video editing happens in earlier Urotsukidoji productions - Buju having fun at Aeris' orgy in OVA 10 is a great example - the show was never so cheap it literally didn't finish it's animation. I wish I could say for sure why this happened, but I can only give a few general theories, which may or may not be accurate:

Inferno Road finished 2 episodes, and many months later made a third episode without most of the original staff. The general theory on this is that Inferno Road did very poorly, and they decided to kill off the franchise before it did any more damage. But I find it VERY hard to believe that the last Inferno Road video did so much better on the last episode that it prompted the creative team to decide to start the sequels over again from scratch. While as I've said, you CAN'T totally forget that Mirai-Hen and Inferno Road-Hen happened (with Himi being there and all), it does start over on many levels, bringing Nagumo (in horny Dai Kaiju form) and Akemi back in to focus, gives Amano his 'traditional' duds back instead of those neat post-apocalypse shoulderpads he started sporting after the three worlds started to get fux0red up, and Buju and his nakemono crew are simply nowhere to be found. I think the problem was less a matter of Buju and co. and Himi than it was a general lack of focus following the defeat of Caesar in the last episode of Mirai-Hen. There was a whole slew of cool stuff to follow that was implicit in that final scene: Buju and Alector's child becoming the first Shinjin, the Chojin preparing an army of followers to stop them at every turn, and perhaps most importantly, Amano Jyaku's total inconsequence to the battle. It's likely that, having seen that the Chojin was anything but good, he would have sided with Himi to protect any semblance of humanity and life left, in his own special way (ie; from the sidelines, but more than happy to bust some heads should people piss him off). But that was assuming he ever believed the Chojin had lied. Really, if the Chojin is set to come back every 3,000 years (let's assume that's the case), then humanity would be wiped out on a regular basis. The Chojin is merely the universe's reset button, sort of a Ctrl-Alt-Delete for the three realms as a whole. Knowing this was the truth (as Suikakujyu knew), why would Amano be suprised? Perhaps the utopia after the inferno would be worth it, but more likely than not humanity would start out kinda' cool, and then fall to sin and vice again like it always does. The thing is, Amano should know this - as most viewers had probably figured out. That's why in both Uro 3 and 4, he watches. He had more than one chance to kill Himi, yet he didn't. All of Inferno Road, he was siding with the kawaii little underdog, hoping she'd live, even if that wouldn't fit in with the Chojin's plan... he knew the future was as much in her hands as the Chojin's, and decided to see what an innocent god would do versus an old and clearly ornery one. This is a mission of personal morbid curiosity, not of faith. Amano seems to only get all righeous when it's his own ass on the line. While this may fit in with his character, the dialogue he's given to sum it up does not. "Give me back Kuroro! Give me back Megumi!" he screamed when he launched his assault on Nagumo in the original Urotsukidoji. His concern wasn't the future of humanity, or even himself; it was on the people he loved. For Amano to suddenly proclain "human lives are not the god's playthings!" seems... rather redundant. Perhaps they were trying to change Amano from an anti-hero in to an actual hero. If so, they failed. Hard.

Other problems arise from the basic principles behind the general story. For one thing, the Kyo-O is all but non-existant; instead, Amano has learned how to chanel the energy left behind by Himi to kick some shinjin ass. This isn't a bad concept, but it does beg the question; does this mean that the Kyo-O legend was a lie? Where there is a God, so too must there be a Devil. Where there is the Chojin, there is the Kyo-O. Not anymore baby! So, what did I miss? Is Amano Jyaku the new Kyo-O? If so, is that the most convoluted bullshit story ever? Not quite. The bigger problem is that everything promised at the end of the original Urotsukidoji, which this theoretically follows, is also a lie - or at least a half-truth. The Chojin's eradication of all life is no big suprise, but that he'd willingly put the smackdown on Amano and nearly kill him implies that anything the Chojin has said prior is full of crap. Making this exceptionally hard to judge is wither or not the Chojin is really a "god" at all. Himi notes that the Chojin's revival means the eradication of all life in the 3 realms, but what then? With all the souls of humans and demons running around, it looks like the cycle has been pushed through time and time again. In short, Amano fighting the Chojin is an effort in futility, something that the original Urotsukidoji seemed to be set against. It's almost suprising that they didn't include a single shot of Amano standing in a glorious utopia after the end credits... but hell, the apocalyptic ending had more potential to make money, and that's exactly what they did. The shocking "Hell on Earth" conclusion is neither shocking, nor does it seem fitting to the tone of everything that came before it - something that may have worked itself out, had this aborted show produced all 4 of its intended episodes. While I think the cheapest copout imaginable was exactly what we were handed in Inferno Road 3 - in which the Chojin drank a drop of Himi's blood and the world was simply turned back to the time before the entire story happened - but belaboring the obvious and crossing it with the retarded, while less of a copout, isn't much better overall.

In short, the problem is a common enough problem in film, but personified; there was an endless number of cool concepts that COULD have been used, and none of them actually hit the screen. Those that are interesting (in a horrendously dumb sort of way), such as the Chojin being a disembodied voice in a giant creature producing bio-mechanical warship, the "perfect" genderless and/or hermaphroditic Shinjin, and the idea of all races looking down the barrel of existance all had some potential. If Buju and Alector's lovechild isn't an option (AND WHY THE HELL NOT?!), what about heading back to the origin of the Demon Womb and whatever the hell that altar thing was that contained Buju's sword? Clearly this thing was Chojin Bane to some degree (being infused with Takeaki's blood, etc.), so why isn't it brought up at all? How about the idea that the Chojin was a benevolent God and after so many reincarnations it's just lost its godly mind? Where did the Chojin followers go? Surely there would be plenty of cultists in whatever timeframe this ridiculous thing takes place in; would it be wrong to think they'd create an army to protect their beloved spaceship of sex and be "perfected" in it's womb in to ultra-makemono thingies or something? In the end, this raises so many more questions than it answers that, much like Gedou Gakuen Z, it exists only to further confuse the shit out of the viewer rather than explain anything.

Plus, why the hell did they give us D9, Itaden, Gashimo and Rudol in Mirai-Hen if nothing was ever done with them? Genocydroid D9 kicked some notable ass at the end of Mirai-Hen, and in Inferno Road his sole duty was to be blown to bits. Equally, Idaten and Rudol are basically walking pieces of meat, while at the very least Gashimo - a sort of aincent philosipher, even though makemono have only existed since Nagumo's inferno 20 years prior (regardless if you believe Overfiend's 198X or Demon Womb's 199X timeline) - provides the role of walking exposition. They could have at least had a completely not-hawt gay orgy, or something. Justify the presence of tentacles, damnit. But doesn't the lack of tapped possibilites just sum up Horo-Hen: Inferno Road and it's bastardly lost offspring?

Now, all this having been said... Urotsukidoji fans - and you know who you are - need to see this. Despite it's badness, there's a lot of awesomely bad things going on here, in terms of story, animation, and sheer stunning retardation. Bad cinema shouldn't be fun and amusing, but if it weren't, Uwe Boll and Paul W. S. Anderson would be out of work, and you know how much I love seeing Boll punch people in the face. Urotsukidoji deserved to go out with a bang, not a whimper, and while it's arguable that the best place to stop was the dramatic and open-ended final scene of Nagumo leveling the world before Amano Jyaku (not so different than the oft-chastised ending of the Matrix trilogy; 'The more things change...') was all that needed to be said and done, I think ending the story at any point prior to the end of Inferno Road would have been acceptable. Either the Chojin's final battle is a totally underwhelming - and frankly dumb - moment of totally symbolic intellectual douchebaggery, or it's a poorly animated and contradictory series of events that logically shouldn't happen. I'm not sure which is 'worse', but I do know which one is more interesting. I'd rather have an hour of bad animation that makes me laugh and occasionally want to punch the screenwriters than something that merely peters out and has nowhere else to go. Even if the final episode had launched ahead to Himi and co. arriving at Osaka (no explanation, no fucking air worm...) and followed with an hour of battles leading up to that final moment of bullshit, it would have been all right. Hell, even have the Chojin drink the blood and then just STOP. No back in time, no trying sooo hard to get all the continuities and cycles the show goes through to line up... you could even have cut to that aforementioned shot of paradise, quote "O Arrogant Humanity" one last time and have been done with it. ANYTHING but implying that the last several hours of epic animation were literally a waste of time.

If it sounds like I'm being harsh on Urotsukidoji: The Final Chapter... well, I probably am. But remember that I've also translated it, and I'm currently working out the details on releasing it to the general public. I got my hands on the Japanese LD for the best transfer possible, and I'm about to totally re-translate the 7 minute opening sequence cut from the German print that a handfull of Urotsukidoji fanboys (like myself) have so coveted. I had high hopes for the sequels after Demon Womb set the standard pretty high, and while Return of fluctuates in quality and logic from time to time, it's overall a well animated, well written, and highly entertaining story that easily bitchslaps the competition (ie; early 90's tentacle porn) with a steady pimp hand back to its rightful place next to any likable but mentally defunct shows with "Darkness" in their title. Inferno Road had - in my opinion - far higher production values than Return of, but the story was totally unfocused, and largely unrelated to everything set before it. When for whatever reason Inferno Road failed, the episode returned to the quality and style of Return of, but lacking a talented storyteller like Noburo AIKAWA the characters and mythology imploded until they basically dusted off a (probably) dead character to end the show as quickly and cheaply as possible. The Final Chapter couldn't even keep up to the level of respectability and bare minimums set down in the "let's nip this in the bud" attempt to make fans happy for one last outing. It's a shame, really... the show could have taken off if it didn't feel like it was slapped together at the last second by a company that couldn't find it's dick with both hands and a flashlight.

For better or worse, Chojin Densetsu Urotsukidoji is a classic as powerful as anything animated in the 1980's - every bit as ground breaking as Akira, Vampire Hunter D, Robot Carnival, Macross: Do You Remember Love, Royal Space Force or anything else that genuinely broke new ground in what genres, subjects, and level of artistic freedom was allowed in animation during the aforementioned Golden Age of Anime. Despite the underwhelming remake released in 2002, which was planned for 13 episodes but canceled after just 3 due to disinterest, Urotsukidoji is a classic in every sense of the word and consistently sports better storytelling and animation than hentai - and indeed non adult animation - produced to this very day. If you're a fan, in any way, then this 'Lost' episode is a must see. It's a fascinating and misguided look at what could have (but probably shouldn't have) been. For fans of Amano Jyaku and his relationship with the Chojin, all parts of this brilliant piece of animation are worth seeing. Worth worshipping, no. But worth seeing, absolutely.

I'm not going to lie to any of you. The Final Chapter of Urotsukidoji isn't a lost masterpiece. It's a lost, disfigured, stillborn featus that's clawed its way back from the grave to haunt anyone that never knew it existed, but knew it's famous parent. It's a freakshow attraction, something that raises pity, disgust and fascination at every scene. It's something that, despite being a wretched and forlorn freak of nature that would have been happier dead, isn't. It survived long enough to show the world its true form, to show that it had some great miniature diamonds buried in it's general exterior of dog feces. It's a historic and fascinating experiment that went horribly, horribly wrong, and for that reason alone it should be seen. Reviled, beloved, cast aside, understood - whatever. But everyone who saw the remake and went "well, can't get any worse than that..." doesn't have a clue, and needs to see this to see exactly what couldn't get any worse. The worst part is, if you're a fan of Urotsukidoji to begin with, you've seen all sorts of crazy shit. And in terms of just being an outlandish, jaw dropping, never-say-die unbelievable piece of shit, it's pretty hard to beat. I think I dig it on that level alone.

I can only hope eBay feels the same way about this amazingly bad piece of animated filth as I do.

ERRATA: It's been brought to my attention that an early failed translation on my part means the title of this episode is actually "Urotsukidoji Kanketsu-Hen", not "Kankatsu-Hen" as the above article states. Well... these things happen.

4 comments:

gominolasyfresa said...

Seriously...
You are the only one who has described this lost episode of Urotsukidoji apart from the classic definition of wikis. And that's a very impressive job. Here you have cookies.

Didn't know either about the "Jyain Kanzen-Ban, and Chojin Densetsu Urotsukidoji Kyo-O Hen" at all... Well, reading your article I understand that scene comissioned by Madhouse (Why Madhouse? It's very curious!) was included in the Kanketsu Hen... right?

I saw the original Urotsukidoji OVAS (Choojin densetsu and the second part, the one in which Faust was introduced), Mirai Hen and some bits of Horo Hen. Frankly, the best thing I found in the Original OVAS was the excellent quality of animation and finally... "Porn with plot"! Urotsukidoji's mythology is very well crafted... until the ship drowns in the sea...
I reckon that the entire cast's performance is pretty excellent, as well (Awesome Nishimura, Kogure, Norio Wakamoto and the "O arrogant humanity" narrator).
Meanwhile, I loved the character design from Mirai Hen, the drawings of the covers remember me sort of Tenchi Muyo's character designs (This one keeped the animation quality. If we see Horo Hen, same character designs that in Mirai Hen but with poorer animation). Do you know who did the designs from the characters? I lost the images of the covers from the German print of the series, that is why.

I am interested in seeing the 90min version of Mirai Hen, since the three first ovas of this part are my favourite of the series (with permission of the three first ovas 1987-1989, of course).

What it surprised me the most about the Kanketsu Hen was... If the product is not finished... why it is sold? I noticed that in the VHS (Thank you very much for providing the complete one) costs around 14000 yen. And that is very expensive. I mean, a product, not a drawing you are currently doing and then you post its WIP.
As you said, the scene when the hermaphrodite (I actually kind of like the performance of its voice actress and the character design) is having that kind of chant is very confusing, due to that unfinished animation.

In short, I really love your article about this OVA. And even though this article has four years old, who cares? It kinds of resolve a lot of things that a lack of translation and limited information in the net gives.

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