Archive | February 2018

Killer of Sheep

(Check out my previous essay on Independent American Film: The Exiles)

Charles Burnett’s 1978 indie film, ‘Killer of Sheep,’ was created over the course of five years as his MA thesis at UCLA Film School. He wrote, produced, directed, edited and provided cinematography on the picture, cementing it as an auteur work through and through. The film’s many vignettes were shot on weekends between 1972-73, with some extra pick-up shots in 1975, on a budget of $10,000. And when he optioned it on the film critics circuit, it was given a slot on the Berlin International Film Festival where it went on to win the Critics’ Award for 1978.

Despite the acclaim, the film would be seen by few eyes over the next thirty years. He meant the film to do many things: one amongst those being a document on the history of African american music. To this effect, Burnett included compositions and songs from black musicians in genres as disparate as showtunes, classical, R&B, soul, opera, blues, pop, jazz, and big band. and he included some famous pieces of music from established musicians with strong representatives like Louis Armstrong and Earth, Wind and Fire. Burnett couldn’t release the film theatrically, because he didn’t have rights to the music at the time, and getting those rights would have been costly. More expensive in fact, than the initially $10,000 budget for the entire film.

Almost thirty years later, in 2007, the UCLA Film and TV Archive and Milestone Films partnered up to restore the film in an attempt to re-release what was then thought of as a lost classic of independent American neorealism. With the help of a large financial donation from American director Steven Soderbergh, the film was restored successfully and the rights to the music were bought, for $150,000, ensuring  the film could be run theatrically. The film made $416,000 in its limited run, making back the initial budget, the cost for music rights, and potentially even the cost of restoration.

Set in Los Angeles’ Watt’s neighborhood, the film gives a picture of urban, working-class life in what was then, and is even today, known as one of the lowest income and most crime-ridden areas of the city. Stan (Henry G. Sander) is a working stiff with a wife and two kids, struggling to make ends meet and to find meaning in a 9-5 life. He works in a slaughterhouse where he kills and dresses sheep for later consumption. The scenes in the film involving the sheep are often harrowing, nearly as troubling as the scenes involving the goat-child in 1977’s Eraserhead, the prior year.

Stan buys a motor at one point in the film, which he plans to use to supe up his ride and bring a little enjoyment to his life. But when he and his friend drive off after paying for it, it falls off of the back of his truck and is damaged beyond repair. Later, he attempts to go to a horse race with his family and close friends. He has been studying the horses and saving money to bet on them in the hopes of winning big. On the way, his friend’s car, in which they are riding along together, gets a flat tire. They have no spare. And so, the family returns home, and Stan feels slighted once more by life and by fate.

The vignettes continue. He runs by his local convenience store to cash a check. There, the aging, portly white woman working the counter offers him a job at the store for good pay. She is hitting on him, touching his hand, and promising him that if he takes the position he will be working in the backroom with her. The implication is all too obvious and makes Stan feel like a piece of meat in that situation. At a different time, his friends come by and offer him a job as third man on burglary they’ve planned out. Stan is against the idea, but realizes there is a lot of money to be made in the venture. Unfortunately, his wife is standing nearby in the kitchen when his friends arrive and comes outside to run them off when she hears about their hair-brained scheme.

Finally, Stan already has two children and has difficulty financially as it is. Yet his wife, his very attractive wife whom he has a difficult time taking his eyes off of, constantly paws at him for sexual satisfaction. But Stan can’t risk getting her pregnant and having another child. In each scene of their cat and mouse game, the sexual tensions mount as they kiss, or dance, or sit together in seclusion while the kids are out playing. At the moment when Stan looks like he may give in and be unable to fight her advances any longer, he puts on his strongest show and leaves the room. In the last of these scenes, Charles Burnett’s biggest filmic influences, Jean Renoir and Federico Fellini, become painfully aware. The lights are dim and the husband and wife dance together. They become increasingly intimate and Stan’s wife (I call her this because she is unnamed in the film) begins kissing him all over his unclothed torso. He pulls away and leaves the room and she remains behind, extreme emotional anguish and frustration readily apparent in all of her features. She sprawls her arms out over the nearby window pane and tears stream down her face. The entire scene is shot at medium-length with steady, unmoving camera. No words are spoken. This is pure cinema. This is cinema shot with extreme pathos very rarely matched in the medium. This is Carl Dreyer as a Black urban filmmaker in a 1970s American slum. This is the apotheosis shot most filmmakers only ever dream of pulling off. And it was done on Burnett’s first film, by himself as camera operator, on a shoe-string budget. My god!

Outside of the narrative of the life of Stan, our Everyman Blue-Collar Family Man just trying to get by as best he can, the majority of the film is made up of shots of his children playing in the streets with their roving teams of fellow travelers. They have rock and dirt wars behind rubble forts; try to push the dormant, 150-ton behemoth train cars along the tracks; they run around with unsettling masks and chitchat about school and family life; they run through abandoned parking lots and hide in blown-out crawlspaces; and they ride their bikes around town and have fun just like children are won’t to do anywhere in thew world. The people here are shown not in a sympathetic light, but in a real light for what they are: people, albeit people living in a disadvantageous way socio-economically. And they are shot on the fly, with an old black and white photo stock, in documentary fashion. Just the way the Italian neorealists used to do.

 

Cody Ward

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A Very Digi-Christmas (Digimon Adventure 02 Episode 38)

(If you missed it, check out part 37 HERE. To go back to the beginning click HERE)

Christmas time is almost here and the Digidestined are moving on the some of the final Control Spires in the Digital World for one last sweep before the festivities begin. Ken is in good cheer and is happy, but a little bit wary, because he can’t believe he has such good friends. His mother is setting up a Christmas party for him and Ken has invitations for his Digidestined friends, though he thinks they may not accept them. When he musters up the courage to first ask Davis is he would come to his party, Davis blurts out that Ken is throwing a party so that everyone else hears as well. The rest of the team are just as excited about the event as Davis, including the Digimon, who ask if they are invited as well. And much to their joy, they are! Cody, however, is still a little uneasy about the whole matter and wonders if he too will be given an invitation by Ken, who Cody believes hates him. While Ken is walking over to Cody, he is thinking the same thing: That Cody may still hate him for his role as Digimon Emperor in the past. however, the fear turns out to be unwarranted and the invitation is received with glee, just as hoped!

Back in the Real World, an odd associational series of vignettes plays itself out. Matt is at band practice readying himself and his bandmates for their big Christmas gig later that night. He receives a call from his father that he is being kept later than expected at the Radio station and won’t be home in time to make dinner. We see Arukenimon and Mummymon walking around the Real World beneath the radio tower in which Matt’s father works. Next, on the veranda of the radio tower’s adjacent shopping complex, Tai’s father and T.K. and Matt’s mother exchange pleasantries and the latter of the two thanks the former for allowing T.K. to hang out at his house with Tai and Kari so often. Finally, as T.K.’s mother walks off and down toward the other end of the veranda, an odd, pale man in purple clothing stands up and addresses her. She recognizes him as one Mr. Oikawa who investigated the incident in Highton View Terrace eight years prior, as well as the Odaiba fog incident. He warns that those events were only the beginning and walks off past her in the opposite direction. She turns and finds that he has disappeared, then worries aloud at whether her sons are caught up in Digimon-related problems once more.

The Digidestined are still in the Digital World, but are on a different mission after their destruction of the Control Spires. They have tracked down and met up with the original Digidestined’ six partner Digimon Agumon, Gabumon, Biyomon, Gomamon, Tentomon, and Palmon, and they have a plan to reunite them with their Digidestined partners for the Christmas holiday. They wrap Palmon in a big burlap Christmas sack and send her through the net to Mimi’s home terminal in America, where she is currently asleep, but will wake with a warm surprise from her old friend. The rest are returned to Tokyo with the Digidestined where they too are wrapped in burlap sacks. The original Digidestined meet up with them and the Digimon jump out of their bags and surprise their old friends as well.

Back to the concert. As the long line is queuing up for Matt’s huge Christmas show inside a massive circus tent on the beach, Sora arrives with a gift of homemade Christmas cookies for her would-be boyfriend. Tai shows up and asks her if she is going to the show with anyone to which she responds that she wants to remain unattached in case Matt is free after the show. Bummer. And a big blow to Tai’s self-esteem. However, he has grown up significantly and matured since the events of Adventure 01 and takes it all in stride, even sitting beside her as a friend during the concert. June Motomiya’s arrival moments later is no consolation unfortunately, as she openly makes it clear that she too is out to win the attentions of Matt. Tai just can’t catch a break!

Outside of the concert tent, a large Control Spire is quickly constructed by Arukenimon and Mummymon (how this is possible, we are not led to know quite yet. As in the Digital World, they needed a human proxy to do the dirty work of creating the spires in the form of the Digimon Emperor Ken. Maybe Oikawa is their new crony). As the concert begins and night falls, static begins to choke the signal from Matt’s mic cable, his bass guitar, and his keyboardist’s instrument (coincidentally, the keyboardist looks a lot like a grown up Sam Ichijouji). DarkTyrannomon and a horde of Bakemon tear through the back of the tent and begin terrorizing the concertgoers. Out on the streets, there are Tyrannomon, Numemon, Kuwagumon, Snimon, Monzaemon, Gigadramon, and Phantomon. That’s three Ultimate-level Digimon (Gigadramon, Phantomon, and Monzaemon) disrupting the piece with a whole host Champions. And Agumon and the others are in too close proximity to the Control Spire to Digivolve.

Ken and the other Digidestined are enjoying themselves at Ken’s Christmas party when they get a call, presumably from Izzy. They run out into town with Raidramon, Digmon, Halsemon, Pegasusmon, and Nefertimon, all Armor Digimon who can circumvent the Control Spire’s power, and knock down the Digivolution-blocking spire. Next, the other Digimon Digivolve into Stingmon, Greymon, Garurumon, Kabuterimon, Gomamon, and Birdramon. T.K. and Joe open up a Digi-port on Izzy’s laptop and the Digimon begin throwing their opponents into the portal and back into the Digital World. Just Gigadramon and Monzaemon are left (somehow a bunch of Champion-level Digimon overwhelmed Phantomon and threw him into the Digi-port). DNA Digivolutions are under way and Paildramon, Silphymon and Shakkoumon dispense with the rest of the Digimon.

Ken reasons that Arukenimon and Mummymon must be  behind this as he has seen Arukenimon enter the Real World before. Her ability to move between the two planes and her new ability to create Control Spires there seems to have put them all back to square one, but this time in the Real World where people, who don’t reincarnate as eggs like Digimon, can be hurt. the group parts ways for the night, but the next morning TV stations worldwide report the appearance of black obelisks, Control Spires, all over the place. What’s worse, Izzy notes on his laptop that Digi-ports are opening worldwide as well.

 

Till tomorrow,

The Digidestined Cody

Continued HERE]

Journey Into Fear: A Fantastic Mess

(Check out my previous Orson Welles essay on The Lady From Shanghai if you haven’t already)

In 1939, on August 21st, Orson Welles, wunderkind, theatrical genius, and radio celebrity signed the greatest contract ever given by a Hollywood studio. RKO offered him a three-picture deal to write, produce, direct, and star in three pictures. After more than a year of difficulty in the choosing of a picture that wouldn’t go over budget, he began work on the politically controversial, artistically undeniable expressionist ‘Citizen Kane.’ A year later, he began work on an adaptation of Booth Tarkington’s novel ‘The Magnificent Ambersons’: a lesser work due to fact that the studio took away his right of final cut in the renegotiation period for his contract. Finally, the government, this being wartime, called upon Welles to go to South America, and specifically to Brazil to create a film to promote the new Hemispheric Good Neighbor policy in an effort to prevent Brazil from allying with the Nazis.

Welles ended up spending around 9 months in Brazil partying during Carnival and getting to know, purportedly, a multitude of women. He did, however, create reels and reels of material on the Carnival period, on the subject of the Jangadeiros, and on the Favelas. During this time, his friend Norman Foster worked in Mexico on the proposed Bonito the Bull segment of the film. The resultant film, titled ‘It’s All True,’ of all of this material was never completed. However, on Welles’ next project, ‘Journey Into Fear’, a thriller set in wartime Europe and based on the Eric Ambler pulp novel of the same name, he and Norman Foster worked together to direct the picture. Though Welles was uncredited for his work as director, this film fulfilled the stipulations of his three picture contract to write (he helped Joseph Cotten shape the script for the film), produce, direct, and star (as one of the main cast the Turkish Colonel Haki, though not the principal actor) in his films.

For many years, the film was not considered to be one amongst Welles oeuvre, but today critical opinion has turned as more and more information about his involvement has been uncovered: including his creation of the film’s opening sequence and the sheer number of scenes he either directed himself or helped to direct. If that was enough to cement the picture as a Welles creation, he cast the film mostly by himself and included many actors from his Mercury Theatre group in principal roles. Joseph Cotten, also the key adapter of the novel, was cast as the main protagonist Howard Graham. Ruth Warrick played his wife Stephanie Graham, Agnes Moorehead as Mrs. Mathews, and Everett Sloane as Kopeikin, an employee in the Turkish branch of Graham’s Armaments company. Finally, Welles’ sweetheart of the time, and mega-star in her own right, Dolores del Rio, plays opposite Cotten as his illicit love interest Josette Martel.

The film opens with a sinister scene of a very robust, round man preparing a handgun for use and holstering it. He combs his hair and dons his jacket as he prepares for some insidious action. All the while, the camera pans closer and closer to the window giving us, the audience, an ever closer view into the room of the would-be assassin. A gramophone plays an opera and the needle skips constantly. The man seems not to notice or to mind this.

Next scene, Graham is in Istanbul, Turkey with his wife working for his company in an attempt to sell weapons to the Turkish government for use arming their troops against the Nazi scourge. As he settles in to his hotel room for the night, Kopeikin arrives and spirits him away to the hotel’s bar, then to a local nightclub, all against Graham’s wishes. But he politely goes where his host leads. At the club, he meets Josette, who immediately takes to him, and he to her, but in a less romantically-inclined manner. A magician (probably an addition to the narrative by Welles who was enamored with magic) is performing simple conjuring feats, making doves and roses fly from his sleeve. He then asks Graham to join him on stage where he is strapped onto a wooden X. The lights go out momentarily in the club, a shot is fired, the lights turn back on, and the trick has worked. Graham is inside a coffin next to the X and the magician is on the X where Graham was mere moments before. but with one slight problem: He’s been shot in the chest and lies dead on the X-cross.

Graham is spirited away from the club by Kopeikin and arrives swiftly in the secret police headquarters of Istanbul where he meets Colonel Haki (Welles), the chief of police. Haki tells Graham that he is being targeted by Nazi spies who are attempting to kill him to halt an arms deal with the Turks from going through. The significance of the magician dead on the X-cross at the hand of a Nazi spy should, though a little complex to terse out, be lost on nobody. Haki shows him a photograph of the portly man from the film’s prologue. A man named Banat. The one who most likely shot at him in the club. He is also told of one Muller, a German spy, currently without photo identification, who is also on Graham’s trail.

Graham is set to travel with his wife, by train, to Batumi, Georgia, a Soviet satellite, on the following morning to conclude his business selling armaments in Europe by helping America’s slavic comrades procure weapons cheaply in the fight against Nazi Germany and fascism in Europe. Instead, Haki has procured a ticket aboard a steamer for the port of Batumi in the hope that this change of travel plans will foil the plans of the Germans. Graham’s wife will ride the train as planned with a Turkish police escort as an extra safety precaution, though she is not a target.

As these stories are won’t to do, Graham arrives aboard the ship, but finds that there must have been an inside man in the Turkish secret police. The friendly face of Josette Martel is onboard, but so too is the assassin Banat. As Graham’s own Turkish secret police escort tries his best to protect Graham, but ultimately fails in the process, Graham finds himself trapped overnight, like a rat in a maze between the devil he knows (Banat) and the devil he doesn’t (the as yet unidentified Muller). He fights and connives his way back to land, learning the identity of Muller along the way, falls into the hands of the German spies who are meant to kill him to send a message to his company, manages to escape, meets back with his wife in their new hotel accommodations in Batumi, is met once again by the German spies, is saved from Muller by Colonel Haki himself (who is subsequently wounded by Banat), and finally manages to get up the nerve to fight back in a hair-raising cat and mouse scene on the vertiginous window ledge outside his room (a scene Ridley Scott must seen himself before having made Blade Runner) where Banat falls to his death.

Although the film is better than most film noirs, which are overwhelmingly of a B-movie production quality and written by grade B minds, Journey Into Fear has its flaws. Besides the gramophone scenes wherein Banat becomes a menacing figure, the score is rather thin and workmanlike. The composer, Roy Webb, created powerful scores for Hitchcock’s films ‘Mr. And Mrs. Smith’ and ‘Notorious,’ as well as positively haunting scores for producer and auteur Val Lewton’s classic thrillers ‘Cat People,’ ‘I Walked With a Zombie’ and ‘The Leopard Man.’ However, his score here is anything but and is a notable step down in quality from the two masterful scores that Bernard Hermann had provided Welles on ‘Citizen Kane’ and ‘The Magnificent Ambersons.’

The cinematography is occasionally vertiginous as called for the scene when Graham debarks from the ship into the arms of German assassins and spies, and often enough claustrophobic and paranoia-inducing within the ship itself. However, these moments of expressionist framing, dutch angles, and occasional high contrast and deep focus photography are the exception throughout.

Finally, though the viewer (and Graham) are handed the mystery of Muller’s identity, we are shown the image of Banat, which lends little to his aura as a mysterious force once we have seen him often enough in close proximity aboard the ship with Graham. Haki is played enigmatically by Welles, and expresses an authoritarianism when he forces the steamer-trip onto Graham, but is ultimately just what he purports to be: a good Turk fighting for the anti-fascist cause. I half expected him to turn heel toward the end and when this did not occur, he becomes a wholly conventional character. Graham’s character, his relationship with Josette, and the paranoia and fear of the boat trip could have been fleshed out much further through the addition of more scenes and in the case of the latter, with stronger cinematography.

I am sure that many of these problems could have been alleviated by cutting the film as Welles intended. Instead, RKO cut substantial portions of the film, leaving it at the unreasonably short runtime of 68 minutes. Supposedly there is a version of the film available with 6 minutes of scenes added back into the film. Though I have been unable to find this version of the film. If you can, please send the appropriate links my way. I would much appreciate it.

 

Signing off,

Cody Ward

[Check out my review of Orson Welles’ award-winning adaptation of Shakespeare’s Othello]

Kyoto Dragon (Digimon Adventure 02 Episode 37)

(If you missed it, check out the previous essay’s recap HERE. To go back to the beginning click HERE)

Paildramon, Silphymon, and Shakkoumon are beginning their assault against BlackWarGreymon to protect the final Destiny Stone. When BlackWarGreymon launches his Terra Destroyer attack toward the three Ultimate-level Digimon the end looks pretty near on nigh, but it turns out that Shakkoumon really is the defensive titan he purports to be. He is able to absorb the attack and fire back the energy right back at BlackWarGreymon while Silphymon and Paildramon pound the faux Digimon with their own attacks. Eventually, BlackWarGreymon’s shield is cracked, his armor horrendously dented, and his body spewing noxious oil like blood.

Just when it looks like the Digidestined can win this final battle in their long-running war against BlackWarGreymon to defend the Destiny Stones, and thereby, the structural integrity and balance of the Digital World, Arukenimon and Mummymon show up again. They threaten to attack the Digidestined directly and divide the attention of their Digimon partners, but are luckily blocked in their attempt, momentarily at least, by Digitamamon and Tapirmon. Davis advises his Digidestined friends to raise their D-3s toward the Destiny Stone. Light emits from the locations of the past six Destiny Stones, flies across the Digital World, and enters the D-3s where it is then reflected back out through those technological prisms directly into the Destiny Stone. The Destiny Stone rises into the sky, far into the clouds, and out of harm’s way and Azulongmon, the Dragon Digimon protector of the Eastern Hemisphere descends from the sky.

The Digimon Sovereign addresses BlackWarGreymon directly: “You, you are the one with the accursed soul of darkness. Tell me, why do you destroy the Destiny Stones?” He answers that he destroyed them to free Azulongmon so that they could fight one another. Azulongmon repudiates him and gives him a showing of his far greater power, even in his current chained form. He then tells him that he is the keeper of the Crests of Light and Hope, but that the existence of the Control Spires has prevented his light from reaching it and defending the Digital World. Because BlackWarGreymon is composed of 100 of these Control Spires his very existence also seals Azulongmon’s power.

Upon hearing that he is the product of evil forces and that his very existence is a threat to the balance of the Digital World, BlackWarGreymon is understandably flummoxed. He has found out the true meaning of his existence hitherto and thinks that he must be destroyed. Azulongmon responds that “every life has its reason. The circumstances of its birth don’t matter” (Very MewTwo, eh?). BlackWarGreymon asks, “My life has a meaning too?” Azulongmon responds once more, “Precisely, but it is up to you to find out what that meaning is.” The whole thing is meant to quasi-philosophical, and it is, but the significance of the moment is lost in Azulongmon’s constant joking around during the sequence. After BlackWarGreymon leaves, stating that he is off to find “someplace where things go to disappear,” Arukenimon and Mummymon, who have once again tied up Digitamamon and Tapirmon, run off in hot pursuit in the hopes of convincing their Frankenstein creation to take up the fight against light.

Paildramon de-Digivolves into Chibomon and Leafmon, Silphymon into Salamon and Pururumon, and Shakkoumon into Tokomon and, for his screen debut, Tsubumon. Azulongmon then begins talking to the Digidestined alerting them to his position as one of four Mega Digimon who protect the Digital World. He then goes into a recap of the series and of proselytizes about light and hope in a nearly-meaningless tirade of pseudo-philosophy most 4th graders wouldn’t accept. We see BlackWarGreymon ascend in the distance into a portal in the sky, the other side of which looks like the Dark Ocean. A sad state of affairs. Azulongmon tells the Digidestined that there is still a greater evil out there. This is probably the voice that spoke to Ken from the Dark Ocean whirlpool. The voice of the same force that sent him the Digivice and called upon him to enter the Digital World in the first place. And unfortunately, probably not Cthulu as we were led to believe by Episode 13, wherein Chiaki J. Konaka introduced his Cthulu Mythos to the series.

Azulongmon ascends back in the clouds, but not before making a crack at Davis’ intelligence and proving himself once again to be quite an asinine digital deity, and not quite the godly awe-inspiring force one had hoped for. The Digidestined ride off into the proverbial sunset (or at least back to Chinatown), where they gorge themselves on dumplings at Digitamamon and Tapirmon’s restaurant. After their celebratory meal, the six Digidestined return to the Real World where Davis sees a Control Spire mirage on the horizon. Ominous stuff signalling the distressing events to come.

 

Ciao,

The Digidestined Cody

[Continued HERE]

Ocean Waves

(Check out my previous Ghibli essay on Isao Takahata’s final film here: The Tale of Princess Kaguya)

Ocean Waves. Ocean Waves. I Can Hear The Sea. This 1993 film draws its title and story from a periodical novel by Saeko Himura, which was released between 1990 and early 1993. And in 1993, when Studio Ghibli producer Toshio Suzuki launched a new experiment within the studio to give young animators a shot at creating short TV anime films, director Tomomi Mochizuki and his team settled on the story they had been reading in serials for the past three years: I Can Hear The Sea.

The short feature (72 minutes) about a the memory of a love triangle between three high school students and their reunion years later was the first Studio Ghibli film not directed by either Hayao Miyazaki or Isao Takahata, the Studio’s founding directors. Once completed, the film was presented on Japanese television networks through Tokuma
Shoten (the studio that Toshio Suzuki worked for years before his move to Ghibli, and with whom he held strong professional ties) and Nippon Television Network. As such, as long as the film was delivered on time and on or under budget, it would make money for Studio Ghibli. Unfortunately, neither of these conditions were met (though the exact loss in money and in time is difficult to find online), which resulted in Suzuki shelving the project outright. In the fifteen years since, Studio Ghibli has never given a film project to an untested party within the company (minus Hayao’s son Goro that is- but that’s just nepotism).

The principal actors: Taku, our narrator; Yutaku, his friend and unrequited lover; and Rikako, the new transfer student from Tokyo who has the two boys in thrall. Set in Kochi, Shikoku, a relative backwoods of Japan, Rikako, who has been used to Tokyo life for most of her youth, excels in her new surroundings both academically and in sports. But she is not taken to well by the other girls who are jealous of her abilities and of the enchantment her beauty has on the boys and the consequent lack of attention the local girls are now getting on Rikako’s account. Yutaku is, like most of his fellow male classmates, immediately enamored with the girl. He tries to make her acquaintance and becomes friends with her. As Taku is friends with Yutaku, he too becomes friends with Rikako over time and the two develop a more natural affinity much to the distress of Yutaku. However, Taku doesn’t recognize Rikako’s feelings for him and instead tries to push her toward Yutaku.

Rikako’s parents are divorced. When they split up, Rikako’s mother took her to Kochi and her father remained in Tokyo. Her mother remarried, prompting Rikako to rebel and move out into an apartment on her own, while still in high school. She is now isolated from her family, from her old friends and life in Tokyo, and from her new potential friends and peers in Kochi who mostly ignore her out of spite (the girls) or out of shyness (the boys). When she first meets Taku it is during their senior class trip to Hawaii, where she borrows money from him, claiming she lost her own money. She knows that Taku is loaded comparatively as he has a job as a dishwasher at his parent’s restaurant. She later uses this money to buy tickets to Tokyo where she hopes her father will take her in with open arms, despite her not announcing her visit. She plans also, to drag her friend Yumi along with her in the guise of going to a concert in Osaka. Yumi, feeling slighted and tricked, naturally doesn’t want to go. She calls Taku who runs to the airport and ends up going on the trip in Yumi’s place, freeing her to go back home, and keeping Rikako from feeling lonely and scared in her trip back to the big city alone.

When they arrive in Tokyo, they show up to Rikako’s father’s home. He dismisses his girlfriend for a while, gives Taku money to reimburse him for his loan to Rikako and gets him a reservation at the local Hyatt hotel for the remainder of his two-day trip. It turns out that Rikako’s father is starting his own new family with his girlfriend. the two are already set to go on vacation for the weekend. Incensed, Rikako returns to Taku’s hotel and instead stays there with him for the night. The stay is relatively innocent and Taku sleeps in the bathtub, ceding the bed to Rikako. He gets a feeling for Rikako’s emotional instability during this period as she calls him the next day during a date with an old friend of hers, supposedly to save her from the guy. He finds instead, that she is attempting to brag about her interesting friend and life in Tokyo. This backfires as Taku finds them both to be extreme bores with nothing interesting to say and storms off and back to the hotel.

When the two return to Kochi and to school, Rikako ignores Taku in public. But the rumors fly about the weekend together the two shared in a Tokyo hotel room. Yutaku asks Rikako about the incident and is told matter of factly that is happened and is none of his business. He replies with an impassioned cry revealing that he has fallen for her. But Rikako is taken aback, realizing that she loves Taku, that Taku doesn’t know, and that Taku has been encouraging a relationship between her an Yutaku the whole time. She responds viciously that she hates Kochi, the Kochi dialect, and finds Kochi boys disgusting and runs off. Later, Taku will learn about this encounter from his friend Yutaku, who has understood himself that Taku is the one Rikako desires. Before he can recount this information to Taku, Taku runs off, finds Rikako, and calls her out for her cruelty to Yutaku. She slaps Taku, he slaps her back, and she runs away with a concatenation of mixed and confusing feelings.

Later, Rikako is being bullied by her fellow female classmates for not being interested in the school fair and for only thinking of herself. Taku overhears the conversation and sees the bullying, but does nothing. Rikako sees him moments later and he ironically, sardonically even, states his admiration for the way she handled those bullies (subtly making nods to the effect that she should be more engaged and work together with them in the fair preparations). She smacks him again and runs off enraged and hurt that he didn’t help her out. Yutaku arrives on the scene and asks why he didn’t help her in that moment, punches him, and calls him an idiot. The three, having broken ties through violence and indecision, through lack of foresight and the cruelty of innocence, don’t speak to each other for the rest of their time in high school.

But years later, their high school class has a reunion. Taku and Yutaku become reconciled to the events of the past and become friends once more. But when the reunion party occurs, Rikako doesn’t show up. Her old friend Yumi mentions that she ran into Rikako recently and that she is going to University in Tokyo, like Taku. The two haven’t crossed paths, except in an enigmatic dream sequence at the film’s beginning wherein Taku sees her on the train platform across from him, a train arrives on her side, and she disappears before he can reach her. Yumi explains that Rikako often talks of how she is looking for someone in Tokyo who likes to sleep in bathtubs (a reference to her and Taku’s stay at the Hyatt Regency years prior). The film ends with everyone parting ways and Taku returning to school in Tokyo, where the scene at the film’s opening occurs once more, but this time in real life. As Taku recognizes Rikako from across the station, he runs below ground and across to her platform, where she is waiting there for him with a smile, and the two lovers are reunited.

The film is a strong attempt at realism within the anime medium as colors are rarely highly saturated. Though when they are, they tend to err on the side of warm tones rather than pastels. The city is animated with a realism that more once creates a double take, causing once to question whether the backgrounds are photos or pure animation. All of this heightens the reality of the scenes and makes Ocean Waves into one of the strongest of Studio Ghibli’s films in terms of emotional affective power.

The score, on first listen is a modest, unassuming affair. Unobtrusive and akin to elevator music. However, Shigeru Nagata’s compositions owe more to synth-pop and experimental scores from Japanese acts like Maria Takeuchi, Casiopea, and especially, Haruomi Hosono. Its use of synthpads, synth-sax, and classical piano expressively to build dreamscapes and moodscapes perfectly in keeping with the themes of the film is commendable, and the visceral power of the score brings much to the film’s mise-en-scene. Pieces from Nagata’s score, and images from the film, fit perfectly within many synth-pop compilation albums on YouTube, and should be familiar to denizens of those spaces. And maybe that’s what is most important about the film in the end analysis. Nothing is totally far-out experimentally within it, and nothing is thematically or emotionally novel, but the total effect of the work is something that is bound to stay with viewer’s of a somber, thoughtful temperament in a way that almost nothing else within the Ghibli canon does or can. And for this reviewer, that is exactly what it has done.

 

Cody Ward

[Next up: Whisper of the Heart]

Stone Soup (Digimon Adventure 02 Episode 36)

(Click HERE to check out part 36. To go back to the beginning click HERE)

There is just one Destiny Stone left to destroy (uh… I mean protect. yeah, protect) and Kari, Davis, Yolei, and T.K. rush to the computer lab after class to open the Digi-port to track it down. Cody arrives just a minute late after finishing dishes duty in the school cafeteria. Ken would be joining the team, but is busy studying for an exam and will join them as soon as possible in the Digital World.

BlackWarGreymon, meanwhile, is destroying a factory in the Digital World for some indiscernible reason and it seems that for a faux Digimon who supposedly has the ability to sense the location of Destiny Stones, he is doing a relatively poor job of finding this last one. Arukenimon and Mummymon have managed to catch up to him once again in their convertible for some reason or other. They can no longer influence BlackWarGreymon as he has constantly made them aware that he will not take orders or even suggestions from weaklings like them. The second problem is that whenever they approach the Mega-level menace, he attacks them and is a real threat to their well-being, and while Mummymon may be something of a masochist (at least in his relationship with Arukenimon), Arukenimon is no irrational actor to continually take a beating for no reason. Or at least one would think this is true.

This time, when BlackWarGreymon notices them, he uproots a metal cable tower from its terrestrial concrete moorings and almost smashes their convertible with the oversized bludgeon. They manage to drive away unscathed and find themselves inexplicably near an outer perimeter earthen wall of a digital Chinatown where the smell of ramen, udon, and soba (or ‘soup’ as the English dub would have it) emanates from a restaurant within. Arukenimon and Mummymon enter the shop and find it is run by Digitamamon with help from waiter/server Tapirmon. Just as the food in Digitamamon’s previous two restaurants has been of exceptional quality, so too is the food here top notch. But the broth base for the ramen is a secret recipe that Digitamamon will not unveil to Mummymon, which gets him pretty hot and brings on some misplaced righteous indignation on his part.

Back to the Digidestined, they have finally entered the Digital World and somehow manage to find themselves outside of the digital Chinatown as well. As Yolei and Kari chitchat and continue to bond as DNA Digivolution partner Digidestined, so too do T.K. and Cody, really for the first time in the series. Everyone in the group smells the food coming from Digitamamon’s restaurant and are immediately drawn to it, everyone except Cody that is. He’s incensed that they would could think about eating at a time when they should be out searching for the Destiny Stone. Luckily Cody is learning to control his anger and to lighten up a bit. He recognizes that the reason he and T.K. have not yet been able to DNA Digivolve their Digimon is because he is too serious all of the time, too high-strung.

As he enters the restaurant with his friends, they immediately come face to face with their nemeses Arukenimon and Mummymon. The two groups muscle up in a sequence that takes around two and half minutes (or roughly 11% of the episode’s total length). Veemon Digivolves to ExVeemon, and his friends to Aquilamon, Ankylomon, Angemon, and Nefertimon. Arukenimon and Mummymon change from their humanoid forms to their Spider and Mummy forms (a change which is as of yet unexplained in the series, but is referred to as a form of Digivolution later in this episode when they change back to their humanoid forms). Nefertimon has wasted her time Digivolving as she just De-Digivolves back to Gatomon moments later and tries to DNA Digivolve with Aquilamon into Silphymon, but ultimately fails due to lack of energy (they have not eaten yet). They try to DNA Digivolve again for good measure, then for some reason Arukenimon and Mummymon turn back to their normal humanoid forms (against their wills- some force prevents them from remaining as regular Ultimates) and run away from the restaurant.

Digitamamon and Tapirmon also ran away from the restaurant during the battle for as yet unknown reasons. Ken and Stingmon arrive at the end of this wacky side-adventure just in time to see everyone, except for his fellow Digidestined, vacating the scene. He suggests that they run after them and fight them, but Cody pipes up and says that it would be a waste of time and that they should instead eat together as a group in the restaurant to restore their Digimon’s energy, then run off to find the Destiny Stone. They follow his advice, take over the vacant kitchen and cook their own ramen, then eat as a group before heading out to fulfill their real mission. And Cody, the recipient Joe’s old Crest of Reliability, has proved himself not be such a stick in the mud after all.

In a nearby bamboo grove, Arukenimon and Mummymon’s convertible breaks down. Mummymon believes the problem is the radiator, which has overheated. The two run off to find water and hear droplets of it falling somewhere nearby. Following the sound leads them to a ramen broth pond (wth right?), which is guarded by Digitamamon and Tapirmon. The two are quickly incapacitated by Mummymon (even though Digitamamon is likewise an Ultimate-level Digimon) who then proceeds to drink the broth directly from the pond. Suddenly, a Destiny Stone rises from the pond, pulling Mummymon up into the air with it. He accidentally pulls off the golden seal ring from the stone and falls into the pond and when he emerges, BlackWarGreymon has arrived. He attacks Mummymon and Arukenimon with a Terra Force attack, which doesn’t destroy them and instead whimsically explodes under them, catapulting the duo into the air and off into the horizon exactly like Pokemon’s fun-loving antagonists Jesse and James.

The Digidestined arrive before BlackWarGreymon manages to damage the final Destiny Stone. First Paildramon, then Silphymon generate themselves through DNA Digivolution. Finally, Cody and T.K. give it their first try and succeed in DNA Digivolving their Down Digimon partners Ankylomon and Angemon, for the first time, into the defensive titan Shakkoumon. But will three Ultimate-level Digimon, even the stronger-than-average products of DNA Digivolution, be enough to stop the Mega-level BlackWarGreymon, a Digimon created for the sole purpose of fighting?

 

I can’t remember,

The Digidestined Cody

[Continued HERE]

Cody Takes A Stand (Digimon Adventure 02 Episode 35)

(For the previous installment click HERE. To go back to the beginning of this series click HERE)

Arukenimon and Mummymon are in the frosty forest terrorizing a group of Mojyamon in an attempt to force the Digimon to tell them where the fifth Destiny Stone is hidden. This time around, the Digidestined were able to get there first and have helped to hide the stone beneath a mound of snow. They jump into action as Paildramon and Silphymon attack and attempt to fight off the two Ultimate-level Digimon. Then, BlackWarGreymon shows up and using his innate senses to track where the Destiny Stone is hidden (an ability which is still as of yet unexplained, but surely works off of some deep, complex logical process), he uncovers the stone and destroys his quarry. The Holy Beast is once again unveiled as a hologram, and like always, quickly disappears. BlackWarGreymon runs off to find the next stone, Arukenimon and Mummymon follow him, and the Digidestined return back to the Real World to give their Digimon time to rest and to give themselves time to come up with a new plan of defense.

Once the group has returned, T.K. explains his anger at the situation, but follows it up with a resolve to continue fighting and a belief that they can succeed. The rest of the group don’t acknowledge his outbursts, look visibly awkward about the whole situation, and seem to be demoralized at this point as even if T.K. and Cody could help out in the fight by DNA Digivolving their three Ultimates would still be no match for Arukenimon and Mummymon, and the Mega-level BlackWarGreymon. As Ken begins to head home, Davis catches his attention and asks him if he wants to come over to his house to hang out and to eat dinner with his family. Yolei and Kari also express interest in coming by to hang out (but ultimately don’t show up and instead spend the night hanging out together instead), but T.K. says he already has plans for the night and Cody says likewise (though whether either of them do have plans is suspect). All the same, it is cool to see Davis and Ken start to bond and become closer friends during this episode. Ken even spends the night at Davis’ house: something he hadn’t done since his friendship with Ryo Akiyama years prior, and then he didn’t have a black gear stuck inside of his body.

That night, while Cody and Ken, and Yolei and Kari, are becoming closer to one another, Cody also attempts to get to know his would-be DNA Digivolution partner T.K. He visits T.K.’s older brother Matt during band practice and asks him if there was an event in T.K.’s past that can explain why he gets so worked up about evil Digimon like he did with Kimeramon in the past and is currently doing with BlackWarGreymon. Matt tells Cody all about the time that T.K. lost Angemon during his battle with Devimon in Adventure 01. Because he was so young, and because the gang knew nothing at the time about how Digimon reincarnate as eggs in the Primary Village, he was traumatized by the event. This explains his anxieties over losing Patamon once again. Cody reasons that Ken may feel just the same way because of his loss of Wormmon at the end of Ken’s stint as Digimon Emperor. The talk is a success for Cody who has surreptitiously learned more about T.K.

As he and Upamon head back home, they discuss the conversation and what they have learned. but they also talk about BlackWarGreymon and how he is probably just a worried soul, a person who was born without an express purpose but who understands that he was born strong. Consequently, he has made fighting his purpose. But he still has a heart and emotions and is therefore not beyond redemption. Back at Matt’s practice, the jam session has ended and Matt has called T.K. to tell him about the conversation with Cody. T.K. seems a bit pissed off that Cody would go behind his back to ask Matt about problems he could ask T.K. himself, but also seems to get why Cody would try and gain this information surreptitiously with how T.K.’s been acting lately.

Back in the Digital World, BlackWarGreymon is having fun knocking down Control Spires and angering Arukenimon while looking for the sixth Destiny Stone. He eventually reaches a canyon where he is able to jump across and lose Arukenimon and Mummymon who have been trailing him for miles. They could presumably just across to continue tracking him, but they would have to leave behind their convertible to do so and would risk losing some of their sense of style.

The morning has arrived in the Real World, and the Digimon are back to top form and raring to go. Ikkakumon has found the sixth Destiny Stone below the ocean and is protecting it with MegaSeadramon and a large pod of Dolphmon, Champion-level cetacean Digimon. When the Digidestined arrive, Cody joins the undersea crew from the control panel of Submarimon. When BlackWarGreymon approaches, Paildramon, Silphymon, and Angemon try to head him off unsuccessfully as the Mega menace bypasses them completely and heads straight into the water toward the Destiny Stone. There, Submarimon and the others manage to corral their forces ably and knock BlackWarGreymon back into the open air where he is then attacked again by Paildramon and the others. At this point, he loses his temper of use his Terra Force attack to split the sea like that old myth of Moses and Red Sea, but finds that Cody is on the ocean floor standing in his way. Cody shows his courage by trying to talk BlackWarGreymon out of destroying the stone. BlackWarGreymon explains that he can only face the Holy Beast if he destroys all of the stones to which Cody replies that he therefore shouldn’t destroy the stones, should get over this fighting kick, and stop trying to throw the Digital World out of balance.

Though BlackWarGreymon is hesitant to destroy Cody because of the emotional impulses and moral sense telling him it would be wrong to do so, he manages to overcome these feelings and tries to attack him anyway. Angemon saves Cody and Armadillomon from the attack the last moment , BlackWarGreymon refocuses his rage toward the Destiny Stone, crushes it with his Black Tornado attack, and leaves once again to find the next stone: which is coincidentally also the final Destiny Stone, which will unleash Azulongmon but also throw the world into chaos. Oddly enough, this time around Azulongmon did not appear after the stone’s destruction: a fact that I can find no real explanation for. At any rate, the episode ends as Cody and T.K. stand along the beach by the seafloor where they were once again unable to stop BlackWarGreymon. Both are more resolved than ever in their hatred of evil and their belief that BlackWarGreymon might not be able to be reached emotionally or rationally at this point, and that force may be necessary to stop him for good. And both seem closer emotionally to one another through their ideological alignment than ever before.

 

Later,

The Digidestined Cody

[Continued HERE]

The Exiles

(Check out my previous essay on Independent Cinema: 1976’s The Grim Reaper)

The Exiles is an independent American film directed by the British-born filmmaker Kent Mackenzie who also produced and edited the picture, gathered the story and shaped it into a script form. To create this docudrama on a day in the life of a young group of Native Americans who left their reservations years prior for the city life in Bunker Hill, Los Angeles, California, Mackenzie talked with dozens of young Native Americans living under these circumstances, recorded their stories, and then worked with them to shape a script from their real-life experiences, which they would then act within as themselves. The result was a powerful film about the lives of real people as expressed by those people thereby lending the film more claim to authenticity than nearly any committed to celluloid in the drama genre hence or thence.

Shot two years after John Cassavettes’ independent classic, ‘Shadows’, and certainly the product of similar times and aesthetic tastes if not directly influenced by that prior work, we see in both films focused close-ups, gritty noir expressionist lighting for scenes of urban nightlife, a preoccupation with a camera of faces and of lines (the line of the railcars climbing intense gradients to carry the elderly or infirm throughout Bunker Hill, the lines of people following streets and market passageways in the city’s bazaars), and an eye for compositions that allows the student of photography to freeze a frame at most any moment to reveal a beautiful picture. The seedy, sprawling, vivacious night lives of the films are punctuated and intensified through use of popular music: Jazz in the case of ‘Faces’ and rock and roll (courtesy of surf rock band The Revels) in the case of ‘The Exiles’.

The use of a completely Native American cast and the use of those actor’s real stories and narratives adds another dynamic name into the film’s conception:  Neorealism. Like the works of the Italian neorealists de Sica and Rossellini before it, historical conditions are paramount. The viewer is invited by the film’s prologue to understand that the history of Native Americans since white colonization began on the continent was one of exclusion from society, corralling into reservations, and the loss of their society. As these young Native Americans left their world in the reservations of few prospects for advancement, they hoped to find the American Dream of good jobs and the income to build happy, healthy families; the joy of youth in a city with its dance halls, clubs, gambling, drugs, alcohol, and rock and roll; and most importantly in the hopes of finding and staking claim to a piece of life in the country their ancestors lost. But the big joke, the irony of the work is that Bunker Hill, a once vivacious and beautiful place is becoming commodified and slowly taken over by big business. The fun to be had in a great city is being lost as police presence increases and limits freedom, danger, and the excitement of Bunker Hill. Just as Native American life was once changed forever by imperialism and the myth of manifest destiny, capitalist expansion into all facets of life and a move toward more social control is destroying the Bunker Hill of the past, the Bunker Hill of John Fante’s youth and of Charles Bukowski’s youth decades later.

Two figures, out of the dozen or so in the film’s ensemble cast, center the film emotionally and narratively: Yvonne and Homer. Yvonne is a young woman with a child on the way. She came to the city in the hopes of finding a new life, of living in a place where her children could receive a good education and grow up with good economic prospects. Once she arrived, she fell in love and became pregnant, but the man is a bum. He constantly goes out on the town, gambles, and cheats on her with other women. She prayed that he might change, and hopes he may still do so when the child is born, but has as of late stopped praying and going to church as she realizes that these efforts have no efficacy and import in her life.

Homer lives in the flat shared by Yvonne, her child’s father, and half a dozen other Native Americans. He is young man like all the rest. He gambles, listens to rock and roll music, combs and pomades his hair in the greaser style, wears white t-shirts and blue jeans, and is looking for a good time wherever and whenever he can find it. But visions of the past plague him. Visions of his father who still lives on the reservation in abject poverty, of maracas and traditional songs, of riding horses on the open range and feeling free and easy unlike in the city where money is always a concern. In Bunker Hill, there is a larger hill outside the downtown proper where it is quiet (or it once was) and one can look out over the city lights and up toward the stars. Here, on Hill X, Homer and his friends meet together and rejoice at life through the numbing effects of booze, mary jane, love, and fighting. It is here where Homer jumps in to stop a man from hitting his girlfriend: an action that immediately gets everyone interested and becomes a full-out Dionysian life-affirming brawl.

The tragic throughline of Yvonne’s story is balanced by a hopefulness for the future despite the hardships she is currently facing and always an ability to look back to worse times. Homer’s joyous throughline at living in a time and place where he can be relatively free for a while and enjoy life with fellows friends who have lived through similar pasts and understand him is balanced by a recognition of the pitfalls of his own lifestyle and the ugliness of it compared to the simple and idyllic joys of life before, of life on the reservation (despite its own problems), of life closer to the traditions of his people. The Native American experience is complicated, and the choices Native American youth have to make are difficult, and ‘The Exiles’ manages to express some of the vagaries and vicissitudes of these difficulties head on without oversimplifying them or trying to provide simple answers. In this way, ‘The Exiles’ is preeminent among neorealist independent American cinema because it frames the thing as closely as it is as possible to do and makes it clear that each person must define his or her own relation to history, and more importantly, in what direction one’s own life will push it toward.

 

Adageyudi,

Cody

[Next up: Killer of Sheep]

Destiny in Doubt (Digimon Adventure 02 Episode 34)

(check out the previous episode’s review HERE if you missed. To go back to the beginning of this series click HERE)

As BlackWarGreymon continues his pursuit of the Destiny Stones and Arukenimon and Mummymon continue their pursuit of him, the Digidestined discuss the difficult situation amongst themselves in the computer lab back in the Real World. Kari theorizes that just as the Digital World and the Real World exist on different planes of existence, but are parallel, so too is the Dark Ocean a parallel world between the two. T.K. adds in that there must be many other parallel worlds as well. Each is represented on the computer screen by a different color that makes up a rainbow band of all colors and all possible planes of existence. When the Destiny Stones are destroyed, the balance is thrown off kilter and the planes are put off kilter until they mix into one another and become impossible to differentiate from one another. The result of the mixing of all colors of the rainbow is the resultant black representing the darkness and destruction that would befall them all if the balance became totally destroyed.

Izzy makes an appearance in the computer lab and explains that he has created a new app for the Digidestined’ D-Terminals that allows them to track warps in the digital plane. As BlackWarGreymon has destroyed many Destiny Stones, he himself is a point on the grid that registers as a warping influence. Therefore, using this new app, the group should be able to track down BlackWarGreymon with no problem. The Digidestined open a Digi-port and enter the Digital World, follow BlackWarGreymon’s signal to the third Destiny Stone, but are not able to make it there before him. He destroys the stone, which releases a hologram vision of a large serpent/dragon-like Digimon writhing in chains. BlackWarGreymon doesn’t know it now, but this is one of the four Holy Beasts, the Digimon Sovereigns that protect the Digital World. BlackWarGreymon takes this massive Digimon as his destined foe and attempts to fight him, but the hologram disappears from view, throwing BlackWarGreymon into a rage and a flight toward the next stone.

The Digidestined (now a term for the first time always denoting Kari, T.K., Davis, Yolei, and Cody as usual, but now Ken as well) arrive late to find the Destiny Stone destroyed. T.K. is really angry about this turn of events and at their inability to stop the Mega-level BlackWarGreymon. Cody recognizes T.K.’s extreme anger and wonders whether T.K. has two sides to his personality: the rational kind T.K. and the aggressive and irrational T.K. whose rage is uncontrollable (the rage that once caused him to lash out and punch Ken when he was the Digimon Emperor even though his foe held a whip and was hurting T.K. in the process). Cody understands that the two of them must DNA Digivolve their Digimon together in the future and that when it happens, not only will Ankylomon and Angemon have to fuse, but so too will the hearts of T.K. and Cody. As such, Cody has a intense desire to better understand T.K.

Time to track down the fourth Destiny Stone. The group meets at a mountain range where the stone is said to be located. They split off into groups. Ken and Davis, Kari and Yolei, and T.K. and Cody. Gabumon shows up too as this is his area to protect. He speaks with T.K. and Cody and tells them that he has spoken with Agumon who assures him that BlackWarGreymon asked him some pretty deep, soul-searching questions, that he is really just a lost and confused Digimon, and that he does indeed have a heart. T.K. doesn’t care. He has decided already that even if BlackWarGreymon has a heart like natural Digimon not created from Control Spires that BlackWarGreymon has allowed darkness to take hold of his heart and is therefore a threat that must be put down, with prejudice.

As BlackWarGreymon approaches the Destiny Stone, Davis and Ken DNA Digivolve ExVeemon and Stingmon into Paildramon and Kari and Yolei DNA Digivolve Gatomon and Aquilamon into Silphymon who begin to fight off the faux-Digimon. Arukenimon and Mummymon are nearby however and use their powers as Ultimate-level Digimon to distract Paildramon and Silphymon in an attempt to give BlackWarGreymon an opening to attack the stone. T.K. and Cody show up last minute and Digivolve Armadillomon into Ankylomon and Patamon into Angemon. The two Champions then try in vain to stop the Mega-level aggressor. As Angemon is in BlackWarGreymon’s grip and looks set for destruction, T.K. has a flashback to when Angemon sacrificed himself to destroy Devimon all those years ago. The source of T.K.’s intense anger at evil is revealed to us, the viewers, as anxiety over losing his friend once more. Though Cody is still in the dark about why T.K. is so easy to anger when it comes to BlackWarGreymon, who like Devimon and Kimeramon, destroyed Digimon without a second thought or seemingly a moral impulse to give them pause.

BlackWarGreymon throws Angemon off and into the Destiny Stone, which alights and somehow, momentarily gives Angemon the power to Digivolve into the Ultimate-level MagnaAngemon. He uses his gate of Destiny attack almost draws in BlackWarGreymon, defeating him once and for all, but at the last second BlackWarGreymon uses his Terra Destroyer attack to destroy the Destiny Stone, which depletes MagnaAngemon’s energy and forces him to de-Digivolve back into Patamon. The Holy Beast hologram appears once more, writhes around for a moment, and disappears. Four Destiny Stones have been destroyed and three are left. As BlackWarGreymon again leaves in anger and rushes headlong toward the next Destiny Stone, Arukenimon and Mummymon give chase. But something has been accomplished after all. Although Cody doesn’t know the reasoning behind T.K.’s anger and intense anxiety regarding evil, he is coming closer to understanding him. And the two are becoming closer generally speaking as they face more and more challenges together.

 

Later,

The Digidestined Cody

[Continued HERE]

A Chance Encounter (Digimon Adventure 02 Episode 33)

(For part 32 click HERE. To go back to the beginning of the series click HERE)

Yolei is in Kyoto on a school trip. We are shown of montage of places she has visited while there including Kinkaku-ji (The Golden Pavilion), Kiyomizu-dera, and a traditional Zen temple that is less easy to identify, but may be Nanzen-ji. She had to leave behind Poromon with Izzy back in Tokyo because his presence during the trip might give her Yolei away as a Digidestined or bring undue scrutiny upon her and make the trip more difficult than it has to be.

Back at Izzy’s place, Ken discusses many matters with him. They discuss how the mind and the will and the subconscious can all have effects on the reconfiguration of data within the Digital World. This is why the clothing of Davis, Yolei, and Cody changes when they enter the Digital World in a way that corresponds to their cool self-concepts. When the young depressed Ken entered the Digital World after his brother Sam’s death, his traditional Digivice changed aspect and function into the more powerful, more complex D-3 that gave him the power to manipulate the Digital World and its denizens. This was due to evil subconscious urges that Ken harbored at the time.

Likewise, when Kari and T.K. could no longer Digivolve with their traditional Digivices due to the effect of Ken’s black D-3 and the Control Spires, they needed a tool to circumvent this problem. Consequently their old Digivices changed into more complex D-3s to match Ken’s power and to keep up with their Digidestined friends Davis, Cody, and Yolei who were gifted with D-3s at the very outset. Ken and Izzy then talk shop and discuss the power of the mind to overcome seemingly insurmountable problems and discuss the mentalist psychology texts they have read (all fictional) like Singvoid’s ‘Theory of Ultimate Brainpower,’ Tissaro’s ‘Strengthening Your Mind’, and Korsky’s ‘My Buddy My Brain.’ Izzy then expresses his delight in Ken’s intellect as the only other Digidestined he has met on the same intellectual level. This exclamation interests Ken who asks how many other Digidestined are around. Izzy explains that there are Digidestined worldwide who saw Digimon interfere in the world when they were children. This led to the children growing up to become Digidestined. We do not yet learn what Ken’s first experience seeing a Digimon was in this vignette.

Poromon sits in the corner and seems to have been growing weaker and more tired the longer that Yolei has been away from him. Because he is so exhausted an tired, Ken decides to bring him into the Digital World to regain his strength and vivacity, and to meet up with the other Digidestined (minus Yolei) who are attempting to stop BlackWarGreymon from destroying any more Destiny Stones. Rather unsuccessfully I might add. The faux Digimon has decided to follow the orders of Arukenimon and Mummymon in an effort to shut out his conscious mind and the emotions that have been plaguing him.

Back in Kyoto, Yolei is buying souvenirs for her friends when she sees a distortion in the sky above otherwise invisible to her classmates and everyone else around. After BlackWarGreymon destroyed the second Destiny Stone, he seems to have entered the Dark Ocean and is travelling through it to Kyoto with a group of similarly lost Digimon. One of these Digimon splits from the group and materializes as more than a shadow, becoming Apemon who proceeds to try to wreck the city. He happens upon a film crew that registers his distortion on camera and then sees him in real life. Apemon attacks, but Ken and Stingmon show up through a portal from the Digital World just in time and manage to defeat and restrain him, hand off Poromon to Yolei, and disappear back into the Digital World where they return Apemon to a place where he will no longer threaten human safety.

One of the people in the film crew recognizes Yolei and asks her if Poromon is a Digimon. She answers in the affirmative, but is careful not to be too friendly with the stranger and his young camera assistant. Luckily, they turn out to be Professor Takenouchi (Sora’s father) and Jim Kido (Joe’s brother). It turns out that Jim decided not to go ahead and become a doctor after all. He studies folklore, and apparently cryptozoology, with Professor Takenouchi at a University in Kyoto. The Prof explains that Kyoto is a spiritual core of Japan and that it was chosen as the country’s original capital due to its strong psychic-spiritual attributes. In the North, the city was guarded by Genbu the turtle god from the mountains (probably Mt. Hiei or Kurama). From the East, by Seiryu the Dragon from the river (the Kamogawa). From the South, by Suzaku the Phoenix from the lake (Lake Biwa). And from the West, by Byakko the Tiger from the road (which road I’m not sure. The only major road of huge historical significance around Kyoto is the Tokaido road that went to Edo [Tokyo]. But that’s to the East).

We will later learn that these spiritual guardians correspond to the four Holy Beasts of the Digital World that protect it and were installed by the five original Digidestined after their historical battle against the original Dark Masters. Around the city of Kyoto, there is also a ring of powerful temples that Professor Takenouchi believes help to protect the city from evil spirits. But there is a double-edged sword in all of this. The city is a centre of spiritual power that is close to the spirit world and to all parallel worlds (like the Digital World), which means that it is easier for evil spirits, and Digimon, to cross over here in times of turmoil when the city isn’t protected as well as in the past. The distortions and presence of these Digimon must be linked to the destruction of the Destiny Stones back in the Digital World.

Professor Takenouchi and Jim Kido also believe that the Digimon are probably the basis for myths of legendary creatures (which makes no sense as the Digital World was created as an offshoot of the real world only in the early 20th century when the first computers were created to generate the new worlds- computers like ENIAC and Atanasoff). In effect, he believes that Digimon are akin to the Yokai of Japanese Shinto myth. As the three continue discussing these matters and driving around Kyoto following BlackWarGreymon’s entourage of Dark Ocean pals, one of them splits off from the group and his shadow manifests itself as Musyamon, a Champion-level samurai Digimon. Yolei Digivolves Poromon to Hawkmon, and then Armor Digivolves him into Shurimon for a quick digital samurai duel, then opens a Digi-port using Professor Takenouchi’s laptop and her D-3, which Shurimon then launches Musyamon into. The rest of BlackWarGreymon’s entourage disappear and return to the Digital World as the Prof returns Yolei back to her teacher and classmates at Kiyomizu-dera.

Back in the Digital World, ExVeemon, Ankylomon, Pegasusmon, and Nefertimon have been fighting Mummymon and Arukenimon. After Ken defeated Apemon and returned him to the Digital World, he then joined the group and Stingmon DNA Digivolved with ExVeemon into Paildramon, but just when they are on the cusp of defeating their foes, BlackWarGreymon returns and the two humanoid Ultimates drive off in their convertible in pursuit of him. They have destroyed two Destiny Stones with BlackWarGreymon’s help and now have only five more to go before they are finally able to throw the balance into to total chaos.

 

Ciao for now,

The Digidestined Cody

[Continued HERE]

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