The Last Love Song On This Little Planet
(Alternative Title- Saishuu Heiki Kanojo:
My Girlfriend, the Ultimate Weapon)
“Sayonara, it's so sad how it all ends with that one word…” -(Ending, “Sayonara” by Yato Yuria)
Weapons are meant to kill. Nobody asks them how they feel when they destroy, or whether they even 'want' to destroy in the first place. It would be quite ridiculous to do so, of course. But what happens when the weapon in question is replaced by a human being, brimming with the lingering desire to live and to love? War keeps creating Frankensteins out of humanity, but the urge to remain human is more intensely instinctual than anything there is.
And of course, so is love.
Shuji's relationship with his cute girlfriend Chise, had been pretty awkward at the beginning, but they had agreed to grow to love each other eventually nevertheless. However, little did they know that this mutual promise would be put to test too soon. In the backdrop of a battle-infested Japan and its warring rivals, Shuji is horrified to discover his girlfriend abducted by the Government Self-Defense Forces and transformed into a mutated combat cyborg. What is he to do now, as he still loves the 'human' Chise but is terrified of the indestructible 'angel of death' inside her?
Saikano is the animated version of Takahashi Shin's original manga of the same title, which has also been adapted into a live-action Japanese movie. Takahashi Shin has become quite popular among contemporary manga artists through the simplicity of his pencil-stroke drawing style and interestingly, his curious obsession with war-themed experimentations, especially the idea of 'weapons having human feelings'. For example, his one-shot “Another Love Story, Killed” narrates itself from the human-like perspective of a lone, unused bullet. Saikano, however, delves deeper into the intangible realms of the complex subject and reveals itself, in all glory, as one of the most beautiful and emotionally influential masterpieces that ever got made.
“This anime…I don't know how it's doing what it's doing to me, but I just can't stop crying,” whispered a female friend of this reviewer through a choked voice over phone, while another male acquaintance commented, “I'm not good with emotional stuff and at one point it got so painful, I felt like hurling myself out of the balcony because I didn't know what to do with the intense sadness.”
Perhaps the proverb “Looks can be deceiving” is appropriate when it comes to Saikano. The animation, compared to latest standards, is fairly average with characters portrayed in Takahashi-san's carefree manga-style. The plot, although brilliantly unique, is devoid of certain logical and consistent background information (i.e. a war results the destruction of mankind but its origin is unknown). But the interesting thing is that these apparently-vital points are actually pretty irrelevant regarding the effect Saikano is capable of creating on the viewer.
The story is a fascinating mix of science fiction and alternate realism that creates a captivating atmosphere from the very first episode: character developments are on the way as normal high-school life continues its mellow flow and one begins to think, “Oh, so this is another of those cutesy love stories. Sigh.”…only to be jolted out of the smugness by a shocking ending as hell breaks loose through death and destruction, complete with abrupt twists and mind-numbing guitar-based background music that can only be called 'fatafati'.
The secret to the anime's successful communication with the viewer lies in its frighteningly believable cast of characters and the fact that they are all cute-looking makes it absolutely intolerable to witness the misfortunes that befall them. The dialogues and story-telling are a deep yet enlightening journey through love/life that is bound to get even the most light-hearted person quiet and thinking. Also mentionable are the artistic opening and ending animations, complete with Yato Yuria's exceptionally beautiful musical compositions.
Interestingly, the sole problem with Saikano, as many people say, is that it either triggers extreme melancholy or reduces one to tears. But then again, just how many anime are capable of doing even that so masterfully?
By The Anarchist Kitten
G.I. Joe started out in the 70s as small action figures that we have at one point or the other of our life obsessed about. By the 80s this franchise had its own comics, cartoons, toys among other merchandise. And we all ate it up- for good reason too, if this reviewer may add. G.I. Joe has remained enduringly in our memory as we have all grown up and become adults and found out with much distaste the kind of cartoons and action figures that has substituted G.I. Joe for the young generation today. So it must have been with great joy that we anticipated the coming of G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra in summer. Maybe the kids would finally learn a lesson. And we would revel in nostalgia, of course. However, when the time came around we realized within ten minutes into the movie what a giant let down it was going to be.
It's not the worst summer movie of 2009, but that can barely be considered praise in a season that brought us such awful titles as Transformers 2: Revenge of the Fallen, Funny People, Jennifer's Body and (500) Days of Summer. As the name implies, G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra is an origin movie, so you can bet that there will be sequels. Painful sequels.
The film picks up with the story of two NATO soldiers code-named Duke (Channing Tatum from the awful Step Up movie) and Ripcord (Marlon Wayans from the awful Little Man and White Chicks movies), assigned to protect a new technology, top-secret warhead from falling into the wrong hands. An ambush on their transport by mysterious terrorists with advanced weaponry is intercepted by agents of G.I. Joe, which as we all know is an organization utilizing the best military operatives from around the world, also armed with the latest in combat technology.
Like most summer blockbusters, this movie is as far-fetched and silly as it sounds. But to be completely fair, the original cartoons and comic books were too. In many ways the filmmakers try and do it justice- perhaps too much so. The movie tries too hard to cram in a ridiculously cloudy plot. It's like a comic book series trying to fit a season's worth of plot twists and characters into two hours.
Let us have an example of what happens when one crams too much into a two hour movie. There is an over-emphasis, for example, on The Baroness (Sienna Miller), who in the original toys/comics was a slinky villain in Cobra's ranks with romantic ties to Destro (an arms dealer). In the movie, she's still a slinky villain and remains Destro's lover, but is also married to a rich scientist (in effort to get close to his work), and a student of the evil ninja Storm Shadow (to develop her own combat skills), and previously engaged to Duke (completely a different person at that time), and the sister of a friend from Duke's past who also happens to have... well, I think it's best to leave it be without revealing any more spoilers, but you get the idea. Now imagine a dozen more characters with a history as complex as that, and all fitted into the most haphazard two hour movie experience you're likely to encounter this year. The movie doesn't do anything remotely similar to character development. It simply throws a lot of facts about its two-dimensional characters and expects the audience to care- you won't.
But one thing must be said of G.I. Joe. It's never boring to look at. The movie is so overloaded with action sequences, special effects, advanced weaponry, and futuristic vehicles, and it's surprising how often that is reason enough to give a movie a go. While the movie is an obvious disappointment, if the fact that it's not boring to look at reason enough, then go ahead and watch it. This reviewer however strongly doubts any real G.I. Joe fan will be able to enjoy it without expecting more.
Does You Inspire You - Chairlift
By Ahsan Sajid
Most people know about Chairlift because of an Apple commercial that uses their single Bruises, a cute melodic song that seems to be a rehash of 80's synth-pop. On their debut album Does You Inspire You which includes the song, singer Caroline Polachek delivers tales reminiscent of PJ Harvey or Bjork about coke-addled boyfriends, mice-infested apartments, doing headstands and forests full of lungs with her sweet, trained voice. For lack of a better word, the entire album is 'cute'.
Does You Inspire You proves that the band is capable of being poignant without taking themselves too seriously (Evident Utensil, the catchiest song off the album, is an ode to pencils!) Chairlift is an idiosyncratic band with its own synthy yet nostalgic style. One may be right in imagining 'Does You Inspire You?' was the grammatically incorrect question they asked themselves before heading over to the studio, and the answer is definitely a yes, after one listen to the record. But what's really extraordinary about Chairlift is the shamelessly limitless nature of their ambition- they go from folk to trip-hop to power pop in one record, each song on it fizzing with lyrical complexity and glowing production value.
At the heart of Chairlift's success is singer and front-woman Caroline Polachek's multi-dimensional vocals- she is Goldfrapp on Home Alone, Nico on Evident Utensil and Enya (not even kidding) on Earwig Town. Polachek nails it lyrically while displaying her ability to shift between moods with utter confidence and no sloppiness, there is not a single bland moment of songwriting on the album.
It may be difficult to peg, what with the songs flying all over the place, changing in mood, tone, lyrical content with every new track, perhaps what truly ties this album together is their cute, hazy, vaguely psychedelic, synth-driven trance-like feel, managing to never become heavy or lethargic. Does You Inspire You is an ambitious and successful effort from a band with a fresh outlook on music, which will certainly leave both casual listeners and critics alike eagerly awaiting a sophomore release. The album is a necessity for fans who enjoy their library to show some diversity.