Once, I heard a description of Family Guy that cuts right to the heart of the show’s failings. “The Simpsons, if every character was Homer.” Everyone’s crazy, everyone’s a clown, everyone’s the Lord of Misrule. Everyone’s a Punch and nobody’s a Judy. It’s a common failing in comedy: “the straight guy is boring. The screwball gets the laughs. So if we eliminate the straight guy and have two screwballs, it will be twice as funny!”
The straight guy provides ballast, you fool. Comedy’s like a game of table tennis. You can get pretty creative playing it, slamming balls off the wall while standing on your head. But it only works if you have a stable, unmoving net.
Ichi the Killer is not quite a comedy but has a similar weakness. It draws us (or perhaps anti-draws, given that it’s an adaptation of a Hideo Yamamoto manga) into the world of sadistic yakuza enforcers, and asks us to bask in the sangfroid of one particular sadistic yakuza enforcer, who is different to the others to the extent that he has scars on his face.
I don’t know what’s supposed to be shocking and awful and Ichi. Everyone in this film is a repulsive person. Gangsters crack jokes while scraping bloody remains off ceilings. Sociopathic prostitutes manipulate their johns. The movie sets gray against a backdrop of slightly lighter gray. It’s a good setting, but it needs some contrast. It needs a “straight guy”. It’s Family Guy all over again. If Homer’s the baseline, then Homer stops seeming shocking and funny – he’s just just the way things are.
I like the scars on Ichi’s face. A “Glasgow smile”, as they call it a few thousand miles away. The film’s best scene comes early on, where we see Ichi blow smoke through the cuts.
Elsewhere, the film’s aesthetic is less successful. The violence is undercut by the fact that 1) the effects are cheap and 2) the acting doesn’t sell us on the brutality. There’s a scene where Ichi tortures a man by puncturing his cheeks with an alarmingly huge pin…and in between bouts the man speaks calmly and lucidly. It’s like watching a WWE pay-per-view where wrestlers bounce back up after getting chairs smashed over their head.
Later, the effects team just gives up trying. CGI looked better in 1993. The remaining wheels fall off the movie’s wagon when we get to horrible special effects that look like a SyFy movie made in an antifreeze lab.
I haven’t read the manga, although I read Yamamoto’s other big work: Homunculus. It was fascinating, for what it was, but he doesn’t seem to be very adaptable as a mangaka. That might have been Ichi the Killer’s undoing. Generally, there are two schools of adapting manga: the first is to capture everything, the second is to try to capture the “spirit”. Both of them can fail horribly, but in unique ways. Judging unseen, this feels like the first case. You can’t shove ten volumes of manga into a DVD player, and you shouldn’t even tr
This was crying out to be something like that Cronenberg film, Eastern Promises, particularly that scene in the bathhouse, involving linoleum cutters. That moment was what this movie dreams of being when it grows up. Now, it’s just blowing smoke.No Comments »
Contemplate Rivers Cuomo, of Weezer used-to-be-fame. Does this look like a man who diligently checks his groupies’ IDs before letting them on the tour bus? It’s doubtful.
RHCP’s Anthony Kiedis was recently sighted sporting a combo of pedostache + pedoglasses (or “molestacles”, as they are sometimes called – check your Funk & Wagnalls). In the 90s, RHCP had a hit with “Love Rollercoaster”. Be advised: Kiedis’s own Love Rollercoaster is conspicuously missing the “You Must Be This Tall To Ride” sign.
Slipknot’s vocalist Corey Taylor has also gotten on to the trend of hanging a “free candy” sign on the tour bus. The truly disturbing part about this man is that sometimes he can be heard performing vocals for Slipknot.No Comments »
Films such as The Cabin in the Woods are often described as “a love letter to horror.” Monolith’s 1997 first person shooter Blood is more like a rambling, 50 page Unabomber manifesto stuffed into horror’s mailbox at 2:00am, complete with the final line “ps: nice view thru yr bedroom window ;)”. Conceptually it’s one of most ridiculous and nebbish games ever made: the dialogue consists of groan-worthy riffs on famous horror movies, the levels are themed off places like the Overlook Hotel and Crystal Lake, the game shoves references to Lovecraft and George Romero under your face with such obsessive frequency that you almost want to pat it on the shoulder and say “Relax, I get it. Stop trying so hard.”.
But it’s also one of the most fun shooters ever made. There’s just no cohesive direction to any of it, and strangely, that completely works.
You have 1) a brainless “shoot everything that moves” gameplay, 2) paired with a complicated set of RPG -style damage modifiers (as a simple example, stone gargoyles repel fire attacks). You have 1) a nonsensical throwaway plot about an old west gunfighter (with anachronisms galore), and 2) a very detailed mythos, right down to the fact that the enemy cultists speak a constructed language (there was a dictionary on the now-defunct Blood site, revealing said language to be the product of hurling Sanskrit and Latin at each other in a Participle Accelerator.) You have 1) shitty graphics (the Build engine was dated in 1996, and even more so in 1997), and 2) fairly groundbreaking use of 3D voxel imaging (for tombstones and such). Blood’s an anomaly.
The game’s a mess, in the best way possible. It’s like it was made by two different teams living on two different continents who could only communicate by carrier pidgeon. “Throw a bunch of interesting ideas together” seldom works, but here’s the exception.
I’ve played through it several times, at various difficulty levels, and I still find it capricious, challenging, and occasionally brilliant. The Build Engine isn’t the prettiest whore on the waterfront, but it allows for destructible/deformable environments and the game takes those features and runs like they’re a pair of scissors. E1M3, “The Phantom Express”, takes place on board a moving train – it’s stunning as a visual effect, and the level design perfectly complements it: you have to fight tense gunbattles in narrow train corridors, etc. The only bad thing is that none of the later levels quite match it in creativity.
The weapons are savage and visceral (though I never figured out exactly how the voodoo doll work), and the level design fun, flowing, and filled with endearing human touches. Duke Nukem 3D was the anti-Quake. This is the antier-Quake. This is the final and complete triumph of content over technology, and nobody in gaming realised it, either then or now.
Not even Monolith did – Blood II was an inexplicable attempt at remaking this game with zero character or charm. And of course, the game still has a modding community.
Blood isn’t perfect. The final boss is the easiest one in the game. The weapons aren’t balanced all that well (generally, the cooler a weapon seems, the less useful it is in the game) and some of the enemies are truly ridiculous bullet sponges. It’s bimodal nature means it has daring creativity paired with cloddish FPS cliches – there’s the old “shoot a crack in the wall to reveal a secret area” wheeze…again…and again…
But it’s classic, and the rarest type of game: one that is impervious to time. To preserve a human body, you generally extract all eight litres of blood – and I guess this is where it all ends up. Duke Nukem 3D came out a year before and laid the ground for this type of game (gory violence + campy irreverent humor), but between the two of them, THIS is the one to play first, and perhaps last.No Comments »
People who fight social change do so for two reasons. The first is that sometimes society changes in a bad direction. The second is that sometimes society changes in a good direction. Yeah, think about it. How terrible would it be to spend your life fighting eugenics or whatever, have society adopt eugenics anyway…and then society doesn’t collapse. Wouldn’t that just be the pits and the shits? Why were you even alive?
On a related jag: lots of famous men use prostitutes.
Charlie Sheen. Tiger Woods. A-Rod. These are wealthy, high-status men. They could have consensual sex with any number of women. Yet they choose prostitutes.
I think it’s because sex prostitutes is explicitly transactional. You fuck them, you pay them, and they leave. They don’t expect you to talk or be entertaining, they don’t gab about you to their friends or the tabloids, they don’t try to move into your house or poke holes in your condoms. THEY LEAVE.
Economists talk about revealed preferences, where peoples’ true desires can be triangulated through their buying habits. If men, given unlimited money and status, choose prostitutes, does this mean that this represents some kind of…ideal preference? I heard someone say that a communist sees a mansion and thinks “nobody should have this much” while a capitalist thinks “everyone should have this much.” Are prostitutes the mansion in this scenario? In the future, will there be social welfare so that every man can afford prostitutes?
I think there’s more to famous men using prostitutes than it just being more convenient. It’s an upgraded form of love, love made efficient.
Love is traditionally haphazard, rambling, impenetrable, irrational, awkward, and (to an extent) based on deception. From the male end, it looks like this. Make yourself attractive. Approach women. Hope they don’t write blog posts about how creepy you are. Court a woman over months or years. At any stage in the proceedings, things can fall apart for any reason at all, or even no reason at all, and you’ve just wasted four whole years putting the toilet seat up and pretending to like Michael Bublé.
In its natural form, love is like crude oil, filled with grit and sand and byproducts. Sometimes it’s still usable. When the Japanese occupied Tarakan island they found that the crude was light enough to pump directly into their ships’ boilers. But why not refine it? Why not strip out all the stuff you don’t need?
Prostitution is refined love.
A working lady can fulfill any need you can possibly have, whether you want carnal knowledge, emotional intimacy, or even just someone to hug. Is it fake? Yes. For a whole lot of us, fakeness is all we need. I don’t need to actually IRL kill people in Battlefield 4. I don’t need rappers in music videos to actually own those expensive cars. All that matters is that the illusion is real enough, and thanks to technology, it either is or soon will be.
Soon, we might be looking at people who get married the way we look at people who churn their own butter. It will be a bucolic hipster lifestyle choice.
There’s nothing wrong with living in the past. Look at the NES gaming console, and how people fondly remember it. Some people build shrines to the NES. We have to do this, because the console can’t speak. It lacks a voice, so we commemorate it.
The human race is in a similar but different predicament. We’re coming obsolete…but unlike every other product in history, we can talk about our own obsolescence.No Comments »
Consider artistic obscenity. Even the United States’ famously permissive free speech laws have vague, ominous carve-outs where speech can be disallowed for things such as affronting “contemporary community standards” You can look up guys like Mike Diana and Peter Sotos in your own time. Suffice to say, are people who have gone to prison for lines on paper.
This, in the words of John Locke, is “a bummer, man.” Why can’t we stop it? Nobody wants to live in a world where art is criminalized. You can almost hear the clocks striking thirteen. This should be the sort of thing that attracts huge public support.
There’s one problem: you’ll be waving picket signs alongside pedophiles.
Child pornographers consider their work to be art. Or even if they don’t, that’s their cover story. I don’t have any particular opinion on whether child pornography should be considered free expression (yes I do!), but this is a burr in the saddle of the radical free speechist: his position puts him in confederacy with some of the most reviled (and Savile’d) people on earth. Remember when someone launched voat as an “anything goes” competitor to reddit? And they were naive enough to think that reddit limited speech because they were mean old jerks? Then they lost their Paypal account due to all the pedophiles using the site. The gay rights movement had/has a similar problem – pedophiles hijacking “free love” for their own NAMBLAtastic ends.
I feel like a lot of groups end up with this problem.
Punk rock. “Fuck the system, burn it all down” = a pheremone for Nazis.
Men’s rights activism. “Stop screwing men in court” = a pheremone for rapists and domestic abusers.
Communism, of course, is a pheremone for communists.
It’s ubiquitous, and unavoidable. Any public stance other than “pie is good” will attract some element of socially undesirable people to your side, and this is the sort of thing that can permanently discredit your cause. Years ago, there was a “anti-speutering” movement, which opposed the spaying/neutering of dogs over health concerns. Were they a well-intentioned group at the start? We’ll never know, because, zoophiles require intact animals for their purposes, and soon this movement became a rallying cry for people who want to fuck their housepets. For example, James Greathouse. “I advocate close, even sexual, relationships between human and non-human animals, so long as they are honest, mutually enjoyed acts of love.” Now, nobody really remembers them for anything else.
This is kind of why I feel like there should be a pro rapist lobby, and a pro pedophile lobby, and a pro-Cthulhu lobby. Why? Because it might keep jerks safely isolated away from all the sane groups. Forget inclusion. Sometimes you just need quarantine.
There was a journalist called Malcolm Muggeridge, whose parents belonged to a commune of socialists. One day, in a fit of working class spirit, they tore apart the deeds to their property. No chains on me! Viva la revolution! Unfortunately, this noble gesture soon meant that squatters started settling on their land, and they now lacked the means to remove them. Excess freeloaders made the project unworkable, and eventually they ended up resorting to capitalistic oppression (throwing the squatters out by force).
Bat signals are great for attracting Batman. Unfortunately, in real life they usually just attract actual bats.No Comments »
Imagine you have a friend who tells you a joke about their prolapsed rectum. You laugh. It was sort of funny, and also they’re your friend. Their eyes light up, and the next day they come back with an entire notebook full of prolapsed rectum jokes, and the expectation that you will listen to and enjoy all of them. At what point do you stop laughing? At one point do you say “look, I’m at saturation point. Enough about your stupid rectum. I liked the first one but I don’t want to hear them for infinity.”
This is how I feel about Sabaton.
It’s a mistake to think this band makes music. That would be like saying Adam Sandler makes movies. This project is just Joakim Broden, pulling a lever over and over and over, until his fucking hand falls off. It’s cynical. It’s formulaic. It’s artless. And it’s all our fault. We rewarded laughed along with the joke once, and now we get to listen to Sabaton forever.
You know what’s coming. The Last Stand is another plastic collection of charmless Nuclear Blast Metal, filled with horrible forced-catchy singalong choruses, and the band buried underneath a mountain of choirs and keyboards. If you’re wearing a Pewdiepie shirt and need a score for your next gaming marathon, go and make your day. If you have a brain in your head, you’ll hate this with every fiber of your being.
This album has some of the worst choruses I’ve ever heard – we’re talking Dream Evil shitty. Lead-off song “Sparta” has Broden singing (which is obviously a Platonic bad idea) and a stupid “HOO-HA” gang shout that gives me douche chills. Several songs like “Rorke’s Drift” and “Hill 3234” don’t even have chorus melodies, just Broden belting some lines in that staccato manner of his (nice to see Sabaton writing double-bass songs, though). “The Last Battle” is just irritating AOR gloop. Battle Beast does this better. Battle Beast does everything Sabaton does better.
The production is slick and clean. The songs are hobbled around the three minute mark. The album is short, and padded with bonus tracks nobody gives half a fuck about. The military theme is hampered by the fact that they’re running out of good battles to write about: on their next album they’ll be down to writing about the time Gene LeBell choked out Steven Seagal and made him shit his pants.
This review is dogshit, but there’s just so little to talk about. It feels like trying to analyse elevator music. Listening to The Last Stand just makes me feel sad and empty. The music’s a nonevent, but did they have to steal Tommy Johansson? Forget getting a new Reinxeed album any time soon.
The Last Stand will keep Sabaton on the festival circuit a little while longer, and all the critics listen to a few songs then copy+paste their “7/10, gives the fans what they want” review from the last album, and meanwhile, the genre keeps spinning its wheels. Power metal isn’t a magical unicorn. It’s a rotting donkey carcass with a novelty dildo glued to its head, and every day, the stench becomes harder and harder to disguise. There’s going to be a shakeup soon. This is exactly the sort of stagnation that led to the overthrow of metal by grunge rock in the 90s. Until then, enjoy the rectum jokes.No Comments »
Is “Who is ‘Nobody’?” a reasonable answer, Mr Trebek? Genres of popular fiction usually evolve like animals – very slowly, in increments. Elizabethan theatre becoming romantic fiction, romantic becoming gothic, gothic becoming horror, etc, each one marked by a poorly-defended border with lots of works escaping on either side.
Frankenstein by Mary Shelley is often cited as the first one. The hero is a scientist, he uses a laboratory, he has to deal with the ramifications of his actions. It’s the archetype of the “monkey brain + futuristic tools + disaster” story.
There’s earlier works that I’d consider science fiction. But how earlier?
Various ancient works sometimes get “grandfathered in” as SF or proto-SF: similar to how Los Sarcos is an incongruous punk rock band ten years before the genre existed. Ezekiel 1:16 in the Bible is sometimes interpreted as a UFO visitation, largely due to the imagery of crystalline, intersecting wheels:
“This was the appearance and structure of the wheels: They sparkled like chrysolite, and all four looked alike. Each appeared to be made like a wheel intersecting a wheel”
The Hindu text The Mahabharata contains vivid descriptions that adumbrate nuclear war.
“Gurkha, flying a swift and powerful vimana / hurled a single projectile / charged with the power of the Universe / An incandescent column of smoke and flame, / as bright as ten thousand suns, rose with all its splendour. / It was an unknown weapon, / an iron thunderbolt, / a gigantic messenger of death, / which reduced to ashes / the entire race of the Vrishnis and the Andhakas. / The corpses were so burned /
as to be unrecognizable. / Hair and nails fell out; / Pottery broke without apparent cause, / and the birds turned white. / …After a few hours / all foodstuffs were infected… / …to escape from this fire / the soldiers threw themselves in streams”
The last part is striking – it reminds me of the firebombing of Tokyo, where the air grew so hot that people threw themselves into the canals.
More recent examples include Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels (1726), particularly the third book (which was actually the one written first). Gulliver journeys to the floating island of Laputia, and various other places. He meets learned men who busy themselves with strange tinkering and experiments, eg:
“At the Grand Academy of Lagado, great resources and manpower are employed on researching completely preposterous schemes such as extracting sunbeams from cucumbers, softening marble for use in pillows, learning how to mix paint by smell, and uncovering political conspiracies by examining the excrement of suspicious persons”
Swift is obviously making fun of scientists here, but I’ve always thought scientists in books are too dignified and successful – fuck Jubal Harshaw, we need more works starring Dr Oz.
The earliest work I know of with an unambiguous ring of SF is Voyage to the Moon (1657) by Cyrano de Bergerac. The hero eventually reaches the moon via fireworks, but the interesting part is in chapter 2, where he creates some sort of apparatus or carriage powered by the sun.
“I planted my self in the middle of a great many Glasses full of Dew, tied fast about me; 6 upon which the Sun so violently darted his Rays, that the Heat, which attracted them, as it does the thickest Clouds, carried me up so high, that at length I found my self above the middle Region of the Air. But seeing that Attraction hurried me up with so much rapidity that instead of drawing near the Moon, as I intended, she seem’d to me to be more distant than at my first setting out; I broke several of my Vials, until I found my weight exceed the force of the Attraction, and that I began to descend again towards the Earth.”
May all our journeys into space have that ending.No Comments »
Humans, as viewing agents, experience something called “perspective.” Close things look big, and distant things look small. If you don’t understand, get someone to whack you across the face with a baseball bat. The part where the bat looks big is bad.
In my childhood, I had moments where these lanes got scrambled: close things would sometimes look small and distant things would look big. Dust motes would momentarily seem like passing asteroids. Apparently I was suffering from Alice in Wonderland Syndrome. I had a mild case. Other people experience terrifying feelings with regard to their own bodies: their tongues will swell up in their mouths, grotesquely huge, threatening to burst past their lips like a slippery red anaconda. Or they’ll look down, to see a massive body balanced precariously on feet the size of thimbles. I’ve since recovered from that, but now suffer from Alice Through the Looking Glass Syndrome, which is where everyone ignores me for my more interesting and famous father.
Alice in Wonderland Syndrome is an illusion. But of course, normal perspective is an illusion, too. The baseball bat stays exactly the same size – it only appears bigger because it’s reflecting more photons into your retinas. It might seem scarier, and not unreasonably – a close-up baseball bat has more potential to harm you than one across the room: but it’s objectively still the same bat.
Chronology follows a similar kind of perspective: time gets bigger or smaller depending on how close it is. The day before and after this one are massive: I can remember lots of stuff I did yesterday, and can predict lots of stuff I will probably do tomorrow. Today is the biggest day of all. But further away, the days drastically resize, until eventually they’re invisibly small. I struggle to remember ten days ago. A hundred days ago I remember not at all. What’s the difference between the 1st of March, 663AD and the 2nd of March, 663AD? From my perspective, nothing. From the perspective of someone who lived on those two days, everything.
(Do people suffer from a chronological Alice in Wonderland Syndrome? Some old people have strong memories of events that happened years ago, but can’t remember yesterday. I’ve heard Catholic women say they strongly identify with Mary the Blessed Virgin, and feel more connected to her struggles than to those of their friends.)
Everyone understands that spatial perspective isn’t a real thing, independent of an observer. I wish more people would realise the same thing about time: that all days are exactly 24 hours long, and the events of one are not more important than the events of any other, except insofar as they affect our lives. You can make money when you see through the illusion.
Brian Caplan is an economist who likes to make bets. That sounds reasonable: even required. An economist who doesn’t make bets would be like a chaos theorist who does. The interest thing is…he wins all his bets. Code red, something isn’t right. Isn’t economics supposed to be a stupid black box that nobody understands? (“Economists were created to make weather forecasters look good.” – Rupert Murdoch)
Some are accusing him of “bum-hunting” – only making bets against crackpots with ridiculous viewpoints. Kind of like a boxer building a perfect record by beating up 10 year olds. But he wins even when he bets against intelligent people, like Tyler Cowen. Caplan insists that his “secret sauce” is refusing to privilege the short term.
“I take the “outside view.” When predicting, I start with long-run averages, and presume the “latest news” is distracting trivia. For example, when I made my unemployment bet with Tyler, I looked at all the unemployment data for 1948 to the present, and assumed the future would resemble the past. As usual, it did.”
In other words, the news is the enemy. To understand the world, you’ve got to zoom back from the distraction of recent events, and adjust all days to the same size. I’ve always noticed this, although I didn’t know how to put it. People complain about how America is a police state, and as soon as a shocking crime occurs, the cry becomes “WE NEED MORE COPS!!!”
I guess there’s practical consequences to treating the recent past and recent future (oxymoron) as more important, just as you might spend more time keeping in contact with geographically close relatives. It makes your life easier. But there’s more to life than making it easy – sometimes you need to understand things.No Comments »
To begin, find a source of static. Static is everywhere. To look is to find.
The sanity wallpapering the world is thin and grows thinner every day. Everywhere there are little holes where order has broken down. So put an eye or ear to a hole and witness the storm gathering beyond. Turn the static up as loud as you can endure and listen.
The hive is listening back. The thing. The space in the middle. The forgotten. The overlooked. The nameless, constantly grasping towards a name and a shape. And above all, a home.
You might find you like static. You might find you like chaos. That means the hive is building its home in you.
[$0.99. Have posted some already. Might post more.]
A massive gray glacier, moving slowly while pulverising everything.
Every day, Jules felt the creeping pressure of the glacier. The soreness in his muscles after a soccer game took three days to fade instead of two. Every glance in the mirror revealed a new gray hair and a new line on his face. All of his faculties were in decline. He guessed his eyesight would be the first to go. Already, he was having trouble reading books, which was a shame, because the one he was working on was damned interesting.
He’d found the book at the library, a tiny volume of only ten pages. No title. No author. He’d taken it to the counter, only to be told that that it did not exist in the library’s system.
“Can I keep it?” He felt tugging pity for the little lost dog of a book.
“If you like.”
He’d opened it up on the bus and found that the volume’s slim length was still greatly deceiving. The majority of the pages were blank. Only one had writing on it.
It was just a single long run-on thought that smothered the page in dark ink.
A RIVER OF SILVER FISH, EACH WITH A MAN’S FACE. A MEADOW OF BLUEBELLS, SUMMER FLOWERING, WINTER CRYING. A PLACID SEA OF TOMORROW, FED BY A BABBLING STREAM OF YESTERDAY.
He struggled through the entire page, feeling like a man wading waist-deep through treacle. The words were very close together. It verged on being unreadable. Sometimes, his brain would mistakenly join two words together, like Siamese twins. Other times, his brain would mistakenly separate a single perfectly good word, like Solomon’s baby.
Then at the end of the page, the writing stopped abruptly, seemingly in the middle of a word.
A WAND AND A CUP OF PROVIDENCE, SPITTING AND EXTRUDING DAMNATI
Or did it really stop? Did the story continue somewhere else? He had page 1. Was there some other library, perhaps in this town, perhaps on another continent, that held page 2? And still another that had page 3?
The bus shuddered to a stop. Unease had settled over him like the shadow of a preying bird. Jules knew he was missing something. Something very obvious.
– Sample from “Book”No Comments »
Donald Duck chops down a tree. Pluto goes for a swim at the beach. Most Disney shorts sound like absolutely nothing when you describe them. But when you see those bare vapours animated at 24 frames per second in bright Technicolor, something incredible happens. The Disney magic emerges, like a Golem shambling from mud (Walt wasn’t crazy about Jews, so a very goyish Golem). No piston does much on its own, but put four of them together and they move a car.
Kami no Kodomo “Child of God” is a manga that achieves extreme effects with simple ingredients: in this case, a simple Kafka-esque monologue from a serial killer. It was written and illustrated by Nishioka Kyoudai a brother-sister manga team who sometimes write as “Nishioka Brosis”.
This is pretty underground. Their art is so stylised it’s barely recognisable as manga: it looks like Klasky-Csupo mixed with Picasso and spliced with dangerous recessive genes from that “Worker and Parasite” short that was on the Simpsons. I think I will credit Nishioka Brosis as inventors of a new style: Worker and Parasite Manga.
The narrative a little confusing. At times it’s surrealist nonsense (the story begins with the protagonist being born from a woman’s asshole), at other times a cohesive and naturalistic plot unfolds. Kami no Kodomo is a little like ice at that critical moment when it starts to freeze: hard parts bobbing awkwardly in yielding water. I think this is an intentional effect, with parallels to Bret Easton Ellis’s America Psycho, where you start to wonder at the end whether the whole thing isn’t a bunch of crazy fantasies.
The main character grows up (I forget if he has a name), and goes to school. He’s pretty different. Is he even a he? The art style forces androgyny on everyone. Soon he gets to partake in a few crimes, both as onlooker and participant, and sort of falls into the habit of killing people. It’s like scratching an itch.
He attracts followers, all of which are sorta-maybe-pseudoboys, and they start their own little Manson family. There’s a homoerotic subtext at first, and soon it’s more of a supertext – tons of gay sex decorates the margins of the mass murders. The final few chapters of Kami no Kodomo are consumed by a tragic love arc worthy of a yaoi fanfic: I’d complain that it was out of place in the story, but that would require me to specify exactly what would be in place…
The manga is fascinatingly dark, and carries a real sense of shock and revulsion. Serial killers are usually boring, both in fiction and real life. This one isn’t, and not through any obvious gimmicks except the oldest one in the book: unity of effect. You can make a Golem from mud, but in case you don’t have the time or inclination, Nishioka Brosis have provided one ready-made.No Comments »