Eden Of The East
11 episodes (2009)
So this Japanese girl, Morimi Saki-chan, was on her graduation trip to D.C. and for some reason she suddenly decided to practice coin-throwing at the White House. Pretty stupid of her, because in no time cops came yelling and running after her like crazy. At this critical turn of events, in walked our hero Mr. Takizawa Akira: butt-naked, a pistol in one hand, a posh-looking cell phone clutched in the other and completely clueless about who the hell he was and what the hell he was doing playing birthday-cosplays smack in the middle of Washington D.C. What followed this bizarre encounter was a series of equally bizarre and mind-boggling events that included several deadly Tomahawk missiles, 12 assigned 'messiahs', a super-cool website created by a bunch of everyday nerds, a genius hacker who went by the name 'panties' and a shopping-mall full of 20,000 angry, naked men aka 'Johnnies'….
Right, time for a proper plot summary first.
Welcome to Mr. Outside's twisted game of 'saving Japan with 10 billion bucks'. 12 players or Seleção are selected to play this game where each will be given a high-tech cell phone charged with 10 billion yen in digital cash and a female Artificial Intelligence concierge named Juiz who's basically a digital genie. Game rules are pretty simple: you blow cash for personal reasons, you lose. Your cash runs out before Japan is led to prosperity, you lose. Or in this case, eliminated, by one of the 12 players who is called the 'supporter'. The last person to stay alive wins.
A very 'noble' game, indeed. But it's not until the game gets dirty that the real fun begins. The modern world can get a little too difficult for the 21st century 'messiahs' and before you know it, Japan is hit by missile attacks on a 'Careless Monday', bureaucrats are plotting against the country, cold-blooded mass murderers are running loose and for some reason Takizawa Akira, the ninth Seleção has ended up wiping all his memories. To know what actually happened to him, you have to watch the anime of course and join him and his nerdy friends from the group 'Eden of The East' on their queer journey.
Okay, good points first because there're not too many: This thing is so damn good to look at! The colouring is rich and lush, a definite eye-candy. The animation is beautifully done with background art so good it almost feels real at times. From accurately shaded 'still-life's to detailed police uniforms to a flawless 2-D Washington D.C. -the artwork is perfect and meticulous. Which is why Umino Chika's shoujo (girl's) manga-esque main characters, although cute and adorable, look a little out of place. But anyway, overall character designs are passable. What is not though is how they managed to mess this thing up even after such hard work and a storyline that's actually interesting. The series has a promising start with the weird twists here and there and gradual introductions of the game-plan that make the viewer shift attentively in his seat, but then halfway through the story it suddenly loses it. The overall impression it leaves is that of an irritating sense of incompleteness: all of the Seleção are not introduced, the 'Supporter's identity is not revealed, the 'Eden of the East' website and group activities are not explained properly and nobody knows who won the game or how. The two movie sequels are supposed to shed some light on these stuff but the 11 ep series sure as hell didn't do a good job of explaining.
Some critiques called the anime a 'Bourne Identity' rip-off, given the beginning of the story, but EOTE has its unique share of um, 'unique' comic moments. The music is pretty good too, coupled with some really creative animated work. 'Death-note' fans would probably find this anime lame though. But anyway, to find out whether you'll like it or not, do give the series a try.
Movies to Watch Out for This Summer
By The Anarchist Kitten
Despite the heat, load-shedding, traffic and other such features that define our summers, every summer gives us an array of movies to anticipate. From the looks of it, this summer is not looking at too many big releases, which is a good thing; instead of being saturated with big budget movies, this summer seeks to offer a bit of variety.
Oceans (April 22nd): Narrated by Pierce Brosnan, Oceans is dreamy, subtle and visually stunning. Some of its released footage on Youtube promises the most stirring underwater imagery you've ever seen. The film sets out to meet the creatures of the sea: those that are known and the many yet discovered. It is a venture into the fullness of the sea to show how it teems with life, and into the deepest ocean beds to meet living fossils that belong to world prehistory.
The Back-Up Plan (April 23rd): A Jennifer Lopez romantic comedy about a woman who is sick of waiting for the right guy and wants to have a child… this writer beliefs that is enough of a synopsis. You know what to expect very well, so just watch it if you're bored or if this sort of thing is your thing.
The Losers (April 23rd): Based on the DC Comics comicbook of the same name, The Losers is an explosive tale of double cross and revenge. A fairly basic superhero movie, The Losers is about an elite unit of the Special Forces who are betrayed during a mission; presumed dead, they seek to return the favour while trying the stop the man responsible, known only as Max, who is hell-bent on instigating a global war. Sounds familiar, doesn't it? But one can most definitely expect some action.
A Nightmare on Elm Street (April 30th): Freddy Krueger returns in A Nightmare on Elm Street, a contemporary re-imagining of the horror classic. A group of suburban teenagers share one common bond: they are all being stalked by Freddy Krueger, a horribly disfigured killer who hunts them in their dreams. As long as they stay awake, they can protect one another. But when they sleep, there is no escape. It's been done before, in various sequels, but this modern version delves deeper into psychology, and promises to offer more than cheap thrills.
Furry Vengeance (April 30th): Remember Brendan Fraser? He was that sort-of-funny guy who did a few sort-of-funny movies and those Mummy movies. He really has faded away, but he's back with a family comedy this summer, that also seeks to teach children about environmental effects (trivia for RS fans: political activist SS Emil's favourite subject in the world is Environmental Science). Brendan Fraser plays an ambitious real estate developer, building a housing subdivision that pushes too far into a pristine part of the wilderness. The animals, furious at this trespass, is led by an incredibly clever raccoon, to teach our hero about the environmental consequences of man's encroachment on nature. This one will be okay to watch with the folks or with kids.
In the next part of this article we will discuss movies that will come out in May, the first real month of summer and the first real month of the year's best movies.
Soil & Pimp Sessions
By Azfarul Islam
"This is Death Jazz!" screamed Shacho during an exhilarating performance at London's Relentless Garage on the 6th of April, 2010.
So what exactly is 'death jazz'? We're not quite sure yet, but it's up to Shacho, the "agitator" of the Japanese jazz band Soil & "Pimp" Sessions to remind people that is what they're listening to. Oh, and to whip the crowd into a frenzy. Bedecked in what can only be called pimp gear, Shacho is joined by five other energetic musicians to weave their unique soundscapes: Tabu Zombie on the trumpet, Motoharu on the sax, Midorin on drums, keyboardist Josei and the utterly chilled out Akita Goldman on the double bass. While most of these roles are fairly traditional in jazz, their sound is anything but. Shacho's existence is the very incarnation of their off-beat approach to music: the man will shout at you through a megaphone, he'll play around with the faders, he'll begin dancing a little jig on the stage and maybe he'll pick up the strangest bunch of instruments you'll ever have seen and join in. As far as a live performance goes, Soil & "Pimp" Sessions run utterly wild in this, their natural habitat.
After five critically and commercially successful album releases on an annual basis - Pimpin' (2004), Pimp Master (2005), Pimp of the Year (2006), Pimpoint (2007), Planet Pimp (2008) - Shacho announced the release of their sixth album (already released in Japan last year), 6. On stage he revealed of the album's title: "This is our sixth album. We met six years ago. Six of us. In Roppongi (a district in Tokyo, literally translates to 'six trees')." The crowd went wild. Sorry, wilder - they'd already become drunk on Shacho's insanity.
'6' boasts thirteen tracks that continue to showcase the range and creativity of Soil & "Pimp". It's a shame that a recorded album fails to let Shacho enrapture the audience with his antics, but his signature beat poetry and occasional screaming can still be heard. The album begins with the cheeky "Seven" featuring Japanese hip hop DJ, Kentaro. Enigmatically subtitled as an 'intro sound collage' by DJ Kentaro, it involves Shacho jabbering away to the listeners with his husky voice; this merges halfway through into something more recogniseable with all the instruments out in full blast. "Keizoku"'s rapid-fire keyboard notes, courtesy of Josei, and drum beats are quickly joined by the brass instruments into quite the whirlwind. A personal favourite is the third track "Papa's got a brand new pigbag" which offers up more of Motoharu's insane sax skills and Tabu's equally combative trumpet. The track is a cover of Pigbag's eponymous song, which itself was a pun on James Brown's "Papa's got a brand new bag". Soil & "Pimp" add ferocity to an already frenetic track and in doing so, infuse it with their signature wildness.
"My Foolish Heart ~crazy in mind~" is a breezy number that will chase you around and around towards a beautiful summer sunset climax. Short it may be but "Double Trouble" is a transient, quick piece that's quintessentially Soil & "Pimp" -- this probably one of the least adventurous tracks in an otherwise wonderfully experimental album. Of course, there aren't any worries since number six of six, "Pop Korn" meshes a playful, soul "strung" (as my friend likes to call it) funk tune that recalls classical jazz numbers with rousing portions that can only be described as epic. Almost 'Requiem for a dream' epic. "Quartz and Chronometer" is a very dance-friendly albeit complex number that has great parts for the listener to randomly insert his or her own lyrics into whilst it plays. The album credits Shacho but you can't help but wish he was the one filling in those enticing vocal (almost) cues. "Paraiso"'s samba beats are infectious and it's no surprise that it was adapted into the opening theme for the anime "Mitchiko no Hatchin" which was set in Brazil. For those about to be taken in by the charms of My Foolish Heart (not mine, the album's), you'll be happy to note that it's been re-arranged into a luscious vocal number "My Foolish Heart ~crazy on earth~". Featuring Shiina Ringo's capricious tones, the song shimmers from cutesy to smoky to downright classy.
The final quartet of tracks is headed up by the popping- and locking-inducing "Mirror Boy"; there seems to be a slight salsa influence as the music progresses. For their final collaborative track, Soil & "Pimp" breathe new life into Oliver Nelson's 60s jazz composition with Jamie Cullum providing some slightly peppery yet wholly smooth vocals. "After the Party" sounds like something that should have ended this collection: it's lovely 'big band' music. Instead we have "Satsuriku to Heiwa" which continues the proud tradition of Soil & "Pimp"'s 'satsurika' tracks. This is a slower, fuller composition you'll want to close your eyes and loose yourself within... until it starts racing with some oddly delicate keyboard notes into the reaches of the sky.
'6' is an album steeped in the spirit of adventure and while not their finest work, it's deliciously fun music.