(Catch my previous Frederic Back film review here: Taratata)
Quebecois animator and short film director Frederic Back’s sixth film is important within his oeuvre for one principal reason: the innovative new approach to animation used therein. Rather than using large quantities of paper anymore to produce his animations, Back decided he needed to find a cost-effective and ecologically-sound way to make his films. The result of his search was a new process whereby Back used frosted cells, which he would animate, commit to celluloid, and then reuse by either making small changes for the next shot or by erasing his work to create a new scene entirely. Even though this process was more in keeping with Back’s ecological concerns, it was a slow process wherein multiple frames could not be worked on at once by a team. As such, even with two assistants on the film, it took the team 20 months to complete this 11 minute, 30 second long short film.
The story is extremely philosophically and theologically resonant while never making reference to any particular mythos and instead concerning itself with a sort of constructed or imagined creation mythos derived equally from Judeo-Christian tradition and Native American cosmology. A vague, personified cosmic force with the general appearance of a human being lives within a universe that is void and without form. This being decides to bring into creation other beings who may commune with it. The first are the birds who come into the world naked, featherless. They emerge from out of the void of Being into another kind of void where they now exist but live without direction, meaning, and in a cold world where their bodies are ill-equipped to handle the elements. The God-force directs their evolution through a one-time instantaneous change that allows all the birds to develop feathers and wings of ostentatious, beautiful, and varied plumage.
Next, the mammals are created to live upon the terrain of the Earth. They too are brought into being naked and afraid without fur. The God-force directs their evolution into hairy, warm animals who live in peace with the land through natural laws of predation and survival. The fish are born and the the heavens emerge to the light this new world wherein so much bounty has been established. And all things are good and well, are wholesome and gay in aspect.
And then the God-force creates a pair of beings in its image: the humans. They are endowed with the power of intellect, reason, fore-thought. But with this great gift, so too arise negative forces like desire. The animals, endowed with animality as opposed to God-gifts of language and intellect, live with the world and in the world. They do not desire things beyond the fleeting momentary ones needed for survival. Through this imbecility, they remain pure, sinless, and live without a fear of death because their thoughts don’t reach forward for very long into the domain of the future. They are, in a complicated German philosophical strung together word, Being-There, Dasein, and happy.
The human pair arrive and immediately covets the majestic potential of life undersea with the fish. The God-force grants their desires to appease them and changes them into merpeople who live amongst the sea’s creatures for a time before becoming tired of these surroundings and crying out to the heavens for a change. Next, the humans become hairy beasts who roam the land with the other animals, consume weaker forms of life with their claws and teeth, and generally live as Bigfoot-like monsters, which also bores them after a time. Finally, the people are changed into bird-people who admire their own plumage and attempt to live within the branches of trees. However, having heavy bones and large frames only makes life difficult so up high as they break branch after branch in their tree-domiciles.
Finally, the God-force decides to forsake these presumptuous human beings who thought they could just demand and demand again and again from their creator, progenitor, from the wellspring of their being. They are reverted back to naked human beings who then create their own weapons to destroy other forms of life once more. This time, however, this destructive work is not undergone for sustenance, for food, it is undertaken to artificially constrain the powers of nature to themselves. They kill all kinds and don the dead’s skins as fancy accoutrements to their newfound powers as murderous beings who kill for sport and comfort.
The generations pass and children are born to these beings. Those children are indoctrinated into the murderous lifestyles of their forebears. They travel and spread by foot before developing ships with which to conquer the world. They go whaling, harness the oil therein, create factories and oil refineries, deforesting operations and natural resource extraction, automobiles and planes arise. Industry booms as cities expand, and so too do production and wealth increase as waste and abject poverty become the norm for the majority of those wretched of the earth (to quote a Franz Fanon title). Human beings become more than a member of the animal kingdom. They become the master species whose exploits have the ability to alter the very inner workings of the world itself.
And they kill the God-force with their bows and arrows and other weaponry, just as we have killed spirituality and a belief in forces outside of our power through modern medicine, science, and technology. They rely on medicine for cures rather than on nature’s discretion about who will live and die, they rely on science to avert global catastrophe or lessen their effects, and they rely on technology to prolong their lives. All commendable things in a world where there is no God, but Back’s imaginative plain here is not such a world. And as such, the final action for these people is only to return to nature, to recognize their animality, and to become one with the world once again rather than coveting all its spoils. The God-force revives after this about face by the humans and all is restored to an idyllic world. If only such a narrative were true and such a return were possible in our own world.
[Continued here with Back’s award-winning 1981 film Crac!]
Arbormon finally returns back to the lair of the Legendary Warriors of Darkness, where he commences weight-training to get into the proper headspace for battle. Mercurymon enters the room and begins to insult Arbormon’s intelligence using terminology that Arbormon does not understand and thereby Mercurymon has his fun whilst preventing lighting a fire or provoking the ire of his dim-witted companion. Duskmon, however, understands Mercurymon completely and later picks up on one of the would-be thespian’s exterior monologues reflecting his wishes to hide the Seraphimon Fractal Code from Cherubimon and to later use it’s powers to become the Dark Lord of the Digital World himself.
Despite the fact that Duskmon has not yet fought any of the Digidestined and has remained on the sidelines, presumably planning some machinations for their later defeats, he is still a devoted follower of Cherubimon. As such, he relates the information he overheard from Mercurymon to Cherubimon who later summons his Legendary Warriors and requests all of their Fractal Code. Mercurymon, of course, withholds the Seraphimon code, and Cherubimon intimates to Mercurymon that he knows all about the data and will allow Mercurymon to keep it in trust for the time being, but will take this data anytime he sees fit in the future.
Elsewhere, the Digidestined have come to the end of the line for their Trailmon companion who has plenty of track ahead on which he could travel, but decides to end the journey abruptly. The reason? They are fast approaching the Dark Gate to the Dark Continent, which is an accursed space that no Digimon is known to have entered and escaped. Bokomon’s book of legends has a page about this territory. Unfortunately, the pages are completely blank as if no one had ever been able to fill these pages with a firsthand account. As this route is dangerous, Bokomon suggest they avoid entering it, but Takuya reasons that this path is the fastest one toward the Rose Morning Star and furthermore that they are five Legendary Warriors all with Beast Spirits who probably would be able to handle anything they encountered within the Continent of Darkness. As Beast Spirits are Mega-level equivalents in terms of power, Takuya is right here because they’re most powerful opponent, Cherubimon, is still only one Mega-level Digimon.
They head through the Dark Gate and into a pitch black morass of forested terrain. However, after a few minutes, the Digidestined gang come across a glade with glowing moss, which they investigate and eventually pick up as a light source to help them see their way through the forest. There are Digimon in the Dark Continent that seem to be trailing the Digidestined everywhere they go. And when the group reaches a cave, the Digimon start repeating everything the Digidestined team says, even tongue twisters, to a tee. Koji throws his moss in the direction of the voices and reveals a group of bat-like Pipismon who are adept at mimicking sounds, are known to be docile by Bokomon, and are even somewhat cute by Zoe’s standards.
Just as the Digidestined begin to enter the cave, Arbormon appears and threatens to defeat the Digidestined once and for all. First he destroys the Pipismon and absorbs their Fractal Code for extra energy before Slide Evolving into his Beast Spirit evolution as Petaldramon. And for the first time ever, the Digidestined do the most rational thing in response: they all Spirit Evolve to their highest level. BurningGreymon, KendoGarurumon, MetalKabuterimon, Zephyrmon, and Korikakumon all battle against Petaldramon to greater or lesser effect until the plant dragon Digimon consumes a few trees and thereby expands in size and power to a level beyond the other Legendary Warriors present. The effort all looks for naught as our heroes strain under the bondage of Petaldramon’s vines and malicious attacks until BurningGreymon uses his fire powers to free himself and then slowly the Digidestined combine their efforts to incapacitate Petaldramon at each turn by striking at vines, his tongue, his arms, and eventually flipping the big lizard on his back before doling out a decisive blow.
Petaldramon’s Fractal Code displays itself and KendoGarurumon Slide Evolves into Lobomon to absorb this data along with Petaldramon’s Beast Spirit of Wood. Petaldramon reverts to Arbormon and suddenly Duskmon appears from out of the surrounding darkness. Arbormon welcomes his comrade who is surely there only to help out in the battle at hand. Yet, Duskmon immediately cuts Arbormon in half and absorbs the remainder of his Fractal Code as well as his H Spirit of Wood, which defeats Arbormon totally and leaves only three Legendary Warriors of Darkness for the Digidestined to defeat. The audience is meant to have a feeling that Duskmon will be more powerful than any of the previous Legendary Warriors of Darkness, besides maybe Mercurymon whose reflective powers are seemingly impenetrable.
What’s even worse is that the Digidestined are all out of their element while Duskmon is within his domain as the principal Legendary Warrior of Darkness. We know he is of superior intellect as he understands the speech and intentions of Mercurymon quite well. We also know that Duskmon is mysterious and may have many powers that could prove surprising and thereby effective against the Digidestined, especially after their battle with Petaldramon that left them somewhat drained and weaker than if they had been going into this next battle fresh. Finally, we do not know if Duskmon has a Beast Spirit. But if he does, it would come as no surprise if that plus his advantage in the domain of darkness gave him the decisive advantage in this particular situation.
And well, we all know who the Legendary Warrior of Darkness truly is because no spoiler goes unspoiled for a series that has been around for over fifteen years. But for the purposes of this particular review series, I won’t give any of that away yet in the hopes that those who have not yet watched this series will do so and follow along with me.
Ciao for now,
The Digidestined Cody
(Catch the previous review HERE)
Since Petaldramon’s defeat a few episodes back, he has once again been out of the picture. At the beginning of this episode, we get a sense of how tired he is of fighting against the Digidestined because he has seemingly left his old party as a member of the Legendary Warriors of Darkness and has instead created his own legion of Chamelemon and set up a secluded forest hideout within a large mansion on the outskirts of Hamburger Village. His motives have changed from helping Cherubimon to fracture the Digital World further and instead, Petaldramon and his troop’s new objective is to eat as much good food for free as they can by using their brute strength and numbers to thereby live off of the land through force.
The episode opens as the Chamelemon and Petaldramon enter the Village in the dead of night, seek out and find the town’s best chef, consume all his burgers to taste test their quality for themselves, and then kidnap the Champion-level Burgermon to bring back to their hideout as their personal chef. However, this head chef has a wife Burgermon and many young TorikawaBallmon children who he must support and protect. They plead with Petaldramon to return their father, but Petaldramon merely responds that he will be back on the next night that the Digital World’s three moons overlap in the night sky, and if the mother can create a better burger than the one’s made by her chef husband, then he might consider returning the head chef.
The Digidestined enter town with their previously-won all you can eat burger tickets from the Great Trailmon Race in the hopes of stuffing and engorging themselves to near bursting with hamburgers. However, they learn about the Chamelemon from the family of the Burgermon who was abducted and decide that to eat the best burgers, they must first help out in some way and return the old chef to his home. Zoe decides that they ought to create their own new burger recipes for the Chamelemon to try out so that they can follow them back to their lair, defeat them and their master, and return the head chef back home. Unfortunately, none the Digidestined have any experience cooking and as such, Takuya and Koji’s new recipes are horrendous, and J.P. and Zoe’s are only so-so. However, Tommy accidentally drops the onions he dices for his burger into a boiler, which cooks them in an ideal manner and then he accidentally drops them into salad dressing. The result is a sauce that tastes delicious and unique, which goes perfect on a burger.
The Chamelemon arrive that night., try the burgers, and immediately kidnap J.P., Zoe, and Tommy, while the TorikawaBallmon follow behind in the shadows attempting to help in any way they can. The group eventually arrive at the large mansion in the forest where they are incarcerated into a kitchen with iron bars where the head chef has been preparing food for some time: none of which has managed to assuage Petaldramon’s hunger in the least. What’s worse is that the TorikawaBallmon are captured and also incarcerated within a bird cage. As Tommy teaches the head chef how to prepare his new burger recipe, Petaldramon gets antsy and requests a burger immediately, giving the crew no time to finish their work. As such, Tommy and the others immediately Spirit Evolve into their H Spirit forms as Kumamon, Beetlemon, and Kazemon, free the TorikawaBallmon with whose help they locate the camouflaged Chamelemon, defeat them, absorb their Fractal Codes, and then watch as they revert to Armadillomon and scamper off into the woods environs.
Next Petaldramon arrives and the Digidestined Slide Evolve into their B Spirit forms as Korikakumon, MetalKabuterimon, and Zephyrmon, which allows them to defeat their foe once again. The Burgermon finishes his masterpiece burgers and tells the weakened Petaldramon to go to the kitchen to consume them. He does so, eats them, and immediately falls asleep for a long nap, which is undisturbed even as the Digidestined destroy his mansion and the rubble falls all around him. The Digidestined return to Hamburger Village with the Burgermon and TorikawaBallmon in tow where they are well-received by their fellow Burgermon and the Digidestined seemingly have a place to stay for the night as well as the possibility of redeeming their Hamburger Village meal tickets at the best eatery in town.
Unlike the town in the previous episode, Hamburger Village is only seen at night and for very brief moments during the day when the Digidestined arrive. Therefore, we learn little about the daily goings on in the town and about the variety and number of Digimon living and working therein. World-building of this ilk is always an interesting matter when watching these episodes of Digimon Frontier that are mostly filler in nature, as not much else is going on. The Digidestined all have their Beast Spirit and Human Spirits, have not yet arrived at their next destination The Rose Morning Star, and are unable or unwilling to finish off Petaldramon, which would be important plot point that they could have easily accomplished in this episode after defeating him. Furthermore, we hear nothing more from Ophanimon over the D-Tectors and learn nothing more about the backstory of the series or about Cherubimon, and our characters don’t even really develop any throughout this episode in terms of character.
It is always cool to learn more about the Digimon native to the Digital World of the Frontier Universe like the Burgermon who have both Rookie and Champion-level forms that are both referred to as Burgermon. And that the previously seen EbiBurgamon is a Rookie-level variant form with Shrimp based attacks. Or that TorikawaBallmon Digivolve into Burgermon and that Armadillomon can Armor Digivolve into things like Chamelemon. This episode also tells us that Arbormon/Petaldramon’s interests lie less in destroying the Digital World and more in living a comfortable life wherein he can have fun through battle and eating. But beyond that, there is very little of interest in this episode that helps move along the plot in any tangible manner.
Ciao for now,
This is quite possibly the most fun episode of Digimon Frontier ever made and for years I mistook this episode in my embellished, half-memory for a short film from the Digimon Tamers series called Runaway Locomon. However, this episode is at least on par with that episode for pure entertainment value alone.
The Digidestined have boarded a Trailmon heading in the general direction of the Rose Morning Star where the next episode of their journey will commence. They are all oddly talking to their unresponsive Beast Spirits within their D-Tectors and Bokomon is speaking to the DigiEgg of Seraphimon as if he its mother, much to the confusion of J.P. and Neemon who find themselves currently within the out of place position as the voices of reason. A train salesman enters their train car pushing along a cart full of burgers and candy and other food and snacks for sale. The attendant is an EbiBurgamon (or Shrimp-Burger Digimon) whose wares entice Zoe most of all (despite her having already eaten thirty plates of food in the previous town where the Autumn Leaf Fair was held). As none amongst the Digidestined party have Digidollars, they all must grit their teeth and bear their hunger until they reach the next town however.
Once they arrive in another bustling Digi-tropolis (based upon Monaco), they find that a big event is being undertaken called the Great Trailmon Race. Each Trailmon has an attendant/rider who aids the Trailmon as a smaller partner in the race. As the prize is purported to be cheeseburgers, Zoe jumps at the chance to pilot a Trailmon in the race when she hears that one’s partner has not shown up on time. Unfortunately, a ShadowWereGarurumon and his partner Doggymon get there first and commandeer the Trailmon for themselves. The pair are whimsical with an edge of danger and dastardly tactics, and are obviously modeled on Dick Dastardly and Muttley from beloved Hannah-Barbara cartoon series Wacky Races. This can be corroborated by the fact that this episode’s Japanese title is directly taken from the Japanese name of the Hannah-Barbara cartoon: Chiki Chiki Machine Mou Race.
As ShadowWereGarurumon and Doggymon take over the Trailmon, all of the other appointed racers at the meet run in fear of being destroyed during the race by this demickey duo of dastardly dogs. As such, all five Digidestined and Neemon are able to pilot their Trailmon as partners in the race. A Piddomon (an Angemon variant with red highlights where Angemon’s are blue) moderates and commentates on the race as it unfolds through straight and curved runways, tight tunnels and turns overlooking canyon precipices, and various traps set along the way.
The entire event begins at a bad start as Neemon falls asleep before the race even begins and is immediately disqualified. Later, J.P. will run into a Raremon on the tracks that halts his progress: potentially because the Raremon is too big to fit inside a Trailmon and was thereby annoyed he could not be a part of the race, so he decided to sabotage a racer instead. Zoe’s cart becomes unusable, and Koji and Tommy’s eventually derail and fall into one of the precipices along the way, leaving only Takuya and his wily foes. As they pass through a tunnel, Takuya’s Trailmon falls into a hole along one of the remaining tracks. DemiMeramon live within the cave, and after the dastardly duo depart its main chamber, Trailmon begins to leak gasoline, which is ignited by the little Fire-spirit DemiMeramon.
All throughout the race, the Digidestined use their H Spirit and B Spirit (as a last resort) forms to aid their progress and prevent themselves from being defeated too early on in the race. This works to greater or lesser effect depending on the Digidestined and on the particular events at hand. However, for Takuya, he is able to use his Beast Spirit, BurningGreymon, to escape the cave, torch the opposition, and thereby win the rally. And don’t worry. If you are interested in watching this episode, but believe I may have spoiled something by giving this information away, knowing the outcome does not in any way lesser the experience of watching this episode, which is about as perfect and as entertaining as entertainment can get (at least in my eyes).
At the end of the race, Takuya and his Trailmon are given a one-year supply of Digi-Lube with which to keep the Trailmon running, as well as passes into the Digimon Hamburger Village for Takuya and all of his friends. Zoe finds this latter bit of information troubling as she was led to believe by onlookers of the race before its beginning that she would win cheeseburgers and hamburgers directly after winning the race. Unfortunately, this is not the case and the Digidestined must travel once more to reach a new destination before they are afforded this opportunity to chow down on all-you-can-eat hamburgers.
Before moving on and ending this episode review, I would like to mention something about this town. As it is modeled on a real European principality, the city feels as if it has a real internal consistency and logic and life of its own. There are tons of Digimon littering the streets here. And unlike the city from the previous episode wherein the Autumn Leaf Festival was housed, most of the Digimon here are Champion-level and below. There are a handful of Ultimate-level and Armor Digimon, but no Mega-level Digimon and no Golden Armor Digimon, which means this town makes sense with the events of the series wherein Cherubimon and his evil forces have been destroying the Digital World and any OP Digimon of conscience ought to be banding together to battle the evil forces that threaten to destroy their world.
Furthermore, this city contains Digimon never before seen anywhere in the anime like the red variant MegaKabuterimon, the red variant Angemon Piddomon, and the dark variant ShadowWereGarurumon. We see the first train workers in the EbiBurgamon and find out that they have a corresponding village all their own. There are tons of Trailmon variants, and a few we have not seen hitherto. And we see a cave wherein the native Digimon are DemiMeramon who we recognize by their Champion-level form Meramon and potentially from some Digimon games previously but never in the anime. These variants and new Digimon help to create a sense of world-building unlike anything we’ve seen thus far in Digimon Frontier and hearken back to original Villages in Digimon Adventure.
Ciao for now,
The Digidestined Cody
(Catch the previous episode review HERE)
As the Digidestined travel upon their raft along a rapid river current, Arbormon awakens beneath the ocean where he was left after Grumblemon’s defeat and the subsequent cave-in a few episodes back. Arbormon appears unscathed as if he had just taken a long nap, and he is somehow alive despite having been under water for quite some time. This would make sense if Arbormon were the Legendary Warrior of Water. However, he is the Legendary Warrior of Wood, and there are no trees that can grow and survive whilst completely submerged in water as they require sunlight. And while earlier Digimon shows played a bit with the rules of their series, they were at least internally consistent and did not play so fast and loose. The reasons why this season is considered the worst of the first four are becoming more apparent with each episode I watch.
As the Digidestined reach the Autumn Leaf Fair, the Toucanmon begin to depart with the camera they traded for the D-Tectors. The town is full of Digimon of all levels from Baby to Mega. This is to expected of a large trading fair, but is once again unsettling as the entire Digital World is currently at under threat of destruction by Cherubimon and there are many Digimon present who could easily help in this battle against evil. There are fourteen Ultimate level Digimon at the fair including very powerful ones like Phantomon, Etemon, Myotismon, Lilymon, Piximon, Taomon, and Vademon. There are seven armor Digimon including the Mega-level equivalent Golden Armor Digimon Kongoumon. Finally, there are three Mega-level Digimon: Jijimon and Babamon (arguably not fit for fighting) and the Royal Knight Gallantmon who could defeat any of the Legendary Warriors of Evil even when in their Beast Spirit forms and potentially even Cherubimon himself. The team who helmed Frontier no doubt just populated this event with tons of recognizable Digimon without giving pause to think about this inconsistency or even without explaining it away as a group of selfish Digimon who only care about turning a profit.
The Digidestined immediately begin searching every shop and stall in town as soon as they arrive, but find no leads on the whereabouts of their D-Tectors. J.P. and Zoe take a 30-plate Restaurant challenge that J.P. surprisingly loses as Zoe wins and is rewarded with a handful of train tickets for use all Trailmon lines in the Digital World. Tommy finds a little hole in the wall shop run by a Datamon more obsessed with playing an arcade machine game than making sales. The game is a Space Invaders variant in which the good guy is a Togemon shooting spikes toward enemy Pagumon. And Datamon is absolutely terrible at the game.
As such, Tommy intervenes, reassuring Datamon that he is a great gamer who has had tons of experience playing video games back in the Real World. And Tommy’s no joke after all as he quickly ascends through levels to reach the final mothership boss and manages to beat the game. A cartridge is released from the system as a prize and Datamon immediately stores it away in a locker behind the counter of his shop. A locker wherein the four D-Tectors are spied by Tommy. Tommy tells Datamon that they belong to he and his friends, but Datamon refuses to return them. However, Tommy is persistent and manages to get Datamon to relent just a tad. Datamon promises to hold the D-Tectors for up to an hour while Tommy goes out and searches for something to trade for them.
Luckily, Tommy quickly runs into the Toucanmon on the outskirts of the city and is able to chase them down and take the camera, which they drop when falling through the ice and into the waters below. Tommy is too good-hearted unfortunately and he goes back to save the Toucanmon who reward his kindness by immediately taking back the camera and running away. Neemon saw Tommy leave town and reported this to Takuya and Koji who, as a team, go to the outskirts of town and find Tommy crying. They console him and after learning of his ordeal head off toward Datamon’s shop. But Arbormon, who tracked down the Toucanmon and Datamon arrives first with the Toucanmon in a sack. He plans to trade back the camera to Datamon for the D-Tectors, but Datamon checks out the camera first and finds a short film thereon that shows Tommy saving the Toucanmon from drowning. He refuses Arbormon’s trade deal, so he Slide Evolves into Petaldramon, destroys the shop and beats up Datamon before the Digidestined can arrive on the scene (sans J.P. and Zoe who are still out at the eating competition).
Datamon gives Tommy his D-Tector, which has been upgraded with the data that was within the cartridge from Space Invaders: the B Spirit of Ice! Tommy immediately Spirit Evolves into his new form as Korikakumon and doles out a beating to Petaldramon for a time before losing control of his Beast Spirit and becoming trapped in Petaldramon’s vines. Datamon returns Takuya and Koji’s D-Tectors, and they Spirit Evolve into Agunimon and Lobomon, respectively, to free their friend from Petaldramon’s bondage. Why they don’t just Spirit Evolve into BurningGreymon and KendoGarurumon to help destroy Petaldramon for good? One reason could be that they wish to only aid Tommy and thereby allow him to take all the glory in this battle. The result is that Petaldramon retreats and is not destroyed right there and then. Overkill was the proper decision that Takuya and Koji once again refused to make, and thereby the proper answer to why they did not Spirit Evolve into their Beast Spirits is that they are idiots.
The episode ends as night falls and the Digidestined team have regrouped. Ophanimon speaks through their D-Tectors and tells them that they must make a choice right now to either return home or to continue their journeys as this is the point of no return. Everyone agrees to continue onward and they are advised to head next toward the Rose Morning Star, which is quite some distance away. But the team do have those train tickets Zoe and as such they use them now to get as far they can toward their destination. All five Legendary Warriors of Light now have Beast Spirit Mega-level equivalent forms. They have the egg of Seraphimon. But the Legendary Warriors of Darkness have only four members, three of which have Beast Spirits and one of which (Duskmon) is so aloof as to currently cause no problem for the Digidestined. Things are looking up.
Ciao for now,
The Digidestined Cody
The Swiss Family Robinson is a classic novel, which this episode’s title references. The story of this book is one of a schooner, which is shipwrecked somewhere near the isles of the East Indies. A family onboard decides to craft a makeshift raft out the remainder of their ship on which they sail to a nearby island. There, they work together to collect as many supplies as possible from the ship, including a wide array of livestock and food stuffs they were lucky to have. They build shelters and explore the island until they come to understand it’s ecology well enough to sustainably use its resources and to thereby live for as long as possible there until being rescued at the book’s end (though, notably, a few amongst their number decide to remain on the island).
The tale is a Christian allegory expressing the socialist ethic at the core of Jesus’ message: to share all resources amongst one another fairly to live a harmonious, communal existence without simultaneously pillaging the earth of its resources and instead being good shepherds and retainers of the world’s store and goods. As expected, this episode of Digimon has very little to do with such a message or ethos, and is instead so named merely as a pun on the fact that the Digidestined build a raft in this episode, despite its construction’s purpose being totally different from that of the aforementioned Robinson family from Switzerland.
The Digidestined are still searching for the wily Toucanmon who nabbed their D-Tectors during the last episode. J.P. and the other Digidestined boys are also reflecting on just how creepy they found Calmaramon to be and how they hope profusely that Zoe’s Beast Spirit will not be similarly monstrous and scary to set one’s upon. All the while, the Toucanmon recline on a cliff-side high above the Digidestined, where they debate what to do with the D-Tectors now that they have become disillusioned by Ranamon’s vicious Beast Spirit and have thereby revoked their memberships to the Ranamon fan club: Begone thot! They decide that they may be able to sell the D-Tectors to other members of Ranamon’s club who have not yet seen her new Beast Spirit form, and thereby fly off to a nearby island to deliberate once more upon the best place to seek out a buyer.
Zoe and the others see the Toucanmon flying through the sky towards the neighboring island and decide to swim off in pursuit. However, a group of Gomamon surround the Digidestined and warn them to return back to shore as there are a series of powerful whirlpools near the other island’s approach. These Gomamon explain that they once lived on the other island, but after a mysterious earthquake these whirlpools appeared that threaten to drag anyone who swims near them beneath the waves. What’s more, a few of their friends were still on the island at the time and have no way to escape. Zoe offers the Digidestined’s aid in returning the Gomamon to their island and into the fins of their friends once more. To do so, they construct a raft to approach the island, which is sturdy and big enough to avoid being pulled beneath the whirlpools.
All this time, Calmaramon has been back at her hideout training herself to master her Beast Spirit Evolution so that she can defeat the Digidestined once and for all. It comes as no surprise then that when the Legendary Warriors of Light approach the shore, a tidal wave appears and Ranamon within it who immediately attacks the crew. Zoe Spirit Evolves into Kazemon, but it once again no match for Ranamon who is within her element at sea as the Legendary Warrior of Water. Kazemon is dragged into a whirlpool, but finds a mysterious glowing light that leads her to a large clam shell that opens to reveal her Beast Spirit of Wind. Zoe emerges just as Ranamon attempts to destroy her friends, and then Beast Spirit evolves into Zephyrmon.
Unlike Calmaramon, Zephyrmon is physically attractive and far from monstrous. All the boys, and especially J.P., swoon as Ranamon goes on a tirade about how this new form means nothing because Ranamon still has a fan club who admires her beauty and Zoe has no such club. The argument is petty so Zephyrmon ignores it and instead begins to fight Ranamon who is forced to Slide Evolve into Calmaramon. Calmaramon has a new attack that involves spitting out acid ink toward her enemies. She directs this at the Gomamon and unarmed Digidestined below, which prompts Zephyrmon to block the attack and thereby take the hit. Her weakened state allows Calmaramon to capture Zephyrmon within her tentacular appendages and transform the mise-en-scene of the battle into an eldritch conflict between the sea peoples and the sky peoples.
Luckily, the other Digidestined have realized Calmaramon’s true weakness: her vanity. They insult her with a tirade of verbal abuse about how creepy she looks and thereby manage to distract her long enough for Zephyrmon to escape her grasp and begin her own attacks anew. Calmaramon decides to use her most powerful spinning top attack to diffuse the situation, but it seems she has still been unable to control this power and instead spins offscreen into the distance, once more finding herself ineffective through lack of control.
The Gomamon thank the Digidestined for returning them to their friends: finding the Beast Spirit of Wind stopped the whirlpools. And the Digidestined reflect on Zoe’s beauty in all her Digimon forms as well as her awesome ability (not unlike J.P.) to almost immediately control her power within her Beast Spirit. Finally, our crew questions the native Gomamon about the current whereabouts of the Toucanmon and are told that they left during the previous battle and were presumably heading toward the continent. Specifically toward the Autumn Leaf Fair: a trader’s market where they are planning to sell off the Legendary Warrior’s D-Tectors to the highest bidder.
Ciao for now,
The Digidestined Cody
As far as Japanese directors go, Mamoru Oshii is probably the most acclaimed and revered alive. He has won awards from film academies in his home country to France, Great Britain, Spain, and Italy. Oshii has been nominated for the Golden Bear and the Palme d’Or for his animated films: two awards more prestigious than even the American Oscar and more important when deciding if a film is a masterwork that holds a place of importance in cinema history. Oshii has helped to mentor and influence some of the greatest modern Japanese directors including Kenji Kamiyama and the now-deceased Satoshi Kon.
He is a filmmaker of both philosophical anime, and of science fiction and surreal live-action films who finds his influence in the domain of the greatest of all directors to ever grace the medium: Tarkovsky, Bergman, Fellini, Melville. And he recognizes the importance of Science Fiction films like This Spaceship Earth, 2001: A Space Odyssey, and Blade Runner as at least fundamental to the grammar of the medium as Birth of a Nation and Citizen Kane. If all this were not enough, his career has given us the first OVA in Dallos, the greatest anime head-trip in Angel’s Egg, an enduring cross-media science fiction work in the Kerberos Saga, and arguably the greatest animated film ever made in Blade Runner’s only true spiritual successor: Ghost in the Shell.
Over the next four months or so, I will reviewing and analyzing the career of Oshii on this blog, and I had planned to begin with an essay on his first feature-length film Urusei Yatsura: Only You. However, Oshii’s career began long before this film’s release in 1983 and that narrative is an integral part in understanding how he developed into the filmmaker we know, love, and admire today.
Unlike another father of modern Japanese animation, Isao Takahata (who studied French Literature at University, could not animate to dying day, and only lucked into a directing job with Toei that spring-boarded him to an illustrious career of his own), Mamoru Oshii was always a cinephile with an interest in directing films one day. As a youth, his father exposed him to tons of films by European arthouse directors. At Tokyo Gakugei University, Oshii continued to explore his interests in filmmaking and consumed at much as possible. He must of trained as an artist there as after graduating in 1976, he managed to gain a job as an animator for Tatsunoko Productions, which was just over a decade old at the time and had previously scored a big hit with its animated TV series Speed Racer.
While at Tatsunoko, Oshii worked primarily as a storyboard artist and episode director, while occasionally penning an episode as a writer for many of the Studio’s productions. From 1977 until his departure from the studio in 1980, Oshii worked in some capacity on the following shows: Ippatsu Kanta-kun, Yatterman, Gachaman, Majokko Tickle, and Zenderman. However, the money must have been good or Oshii must have enjoyed working there as he returned on three subsequent occasions between 1980 and 1987 to work on the series Dashu Kappei, Gyakuten! Ippatsuman, and Zillion. One can consider this time spent with Tatsunoko as a period of development for Oshii as he learned the ins and outs of the production process of anime from many different vantage points and built up a highlight reel or resume for himself that he could later refer to in order to promote himself as a director deserving of the helm of series director or head director on a film.
At Tatsunoko, the head director of the studio’s most popular productions like Speed Racer and Gatchaman was Hisayuki Toriumi. Toriumi took Oshii under his wing while at Tatsunoko and when the former made the move to Studio Pierrot in 1980, so too did his protege Mamoru Oshii. There, they worked together on the World Masterpiece Theatre-like Wonderful Adventures of Nils anime for which Oshii storyboarded 11 episodes and directed 18 out of series total of 52 episodes. And later, Toriumi helped Oshii write the script of his OVA series Dallos. During their time together at Pierrot, it seems that Oshii began to come into his own as a director and after Dallos in 1983, the two never worked together again despite Toriumi continuing on as a director of animation until 2001. Toriumi’s career past this split include classic OVAs and Films like Area 88, Lily C.A.T., Like the Clouds Like the Wind, Baoh, and Sohyryuden: Legend of the Dragon Kings.
For a time, Oshii’s work at Pierrot remained relegated to occasional jobs as a storyboard artist and episode director. From 1980-84, he worked on the following shows for Pierrot: Rescueman, Yattodetaman, Belle and Sebastien, Golden Warrior Gold Lightan, Miss Machiko, and Mrs. Pepper Pot. Most important, however, was Oshii’s work on the exceedingly popular Urusei Yatsura from 1981-84. On this TV anime adaptation of a classic Rumiko Takahashi manga, Oshii created storyboards for 21 episodes, directed 24 episodes personally, and served as the series head director for the first 106 episodes of its run (more than half of its final total run). The anime was so popular that it later spawned 12 independent OVA episodes and 6 feature-length films. On the first two films, Oshii was given the opportunity to direct. It is through Urusei Yatsura that Oshii began to helm big productions as a director, and particularly through the series’ second film Urusei Yatsura: Beautiful Dreamer that he began to be known as a director interested primarily in the Surreal, the Philosophical, and in how these modes of operation relate to Science Fiction and Fantasy.
From this point forward, Oshii’s work would continue on through production houses like Studio Deen, Headgear, and Production I.G.. He would begin work on his Kerberos Saga through live action films, animated films, and manga, eventually settling on the former (live-action filmmaking) as his favorite way to create narratives. But in every new venture throughout his life, Oshii has given his all to make the production artful, thoughtful, and ultimately, consumable media made to satisfy more than the Society of the Spectacle, but transformative media crafted to satisfy the intellect. This is just the first chapter in my investigation into the career of Mamoru Oshii. I hope you’ll tag along with me.
[Next up: Urusei Yatsura: Only You]
‘They all try to put us down, just because we get around. Things they do look awful cold. I hope I die before I get old.’ This, the rallying cry for youth since the song’s release in the mid-1960s by the unrivaled rock band The Who. ‘My Generation’, as the opening credits theme of 2016’s A Silent Voice, is the pulse beat that works to immediately draw us back to our own youths as we watch Japanese anime kids stream past upon the screen (hopefully a large one as it continues to run theatrically from time to time in the States).
These dilettantes run and prance along to and from school, home, the mall, and through the streets of Tokyo. We watch them rough house and horse around, we are shown their joyful days before the disruptive and dispiriting death-knell of time that presses so hard upon youth even in high school, well before the brain has even fully developed, and pressures joy into hiatus in the face of such horrendous, insidious forces as exit exams, continued education or training, and the most odious question of all: ‘What do I want to do with my life? With my one shot?’
With the first bars of The Who’s immortal anthem, we are taken back to an innocent time. Our protagonists are young kids who talk and goof off in class, are obstinate in the face of new challenges, and wish nothing more than to escape class and return to play unhindered by study. They write on their desks and fumble with the lead in their mechanical pencils, nod off or have their attentions distracted by their friend’s childish ploys or by the present or hoped attentions of those members of the opposite sex they find interesting for reasons hitherto unknown.
Director Naoko Yamada is a relative newcomer to directing theatrical anime though she has a decade-long history of directing TV anime for Kyoto Animation that reaches back to her work on the acclaimed anime series K-On! in 2009. This series held her attentions for the next three years through a subsequent sequel series, two OVA series, and one theatrical film for the series. From this work, she moved onto direction of another popular series called Tamako Market in 2013 that also produced a theatrical film in 2014. And while Yamada certainly had experience engaging with youth and one’s grade school days through these anime, and though she had some experience crafting theatrical works through these projects, it is an entirely separate beast to create one from scratch without having some hand in the project’s development like she did on previous projects for years before ever attempting such a feat.
But the film succeeds beyond all expectations. The core of the film is a young boy named Shoya and his cast of friends in grade school who bully a new student named Shoko who is deaf and only requires some help, friendship, and understanding to acclimate well to her new school. However, just as youth is often carefree and joyous in a country with a modern economy, so too is it capricious and wont to damage its charges who don’t fit in with the herd. Shoko is mercilessly bullied by most of the members of her class who taunt her often and openly because she is deaf and won’t hear the insults. Her one friend, Sahara, is bullied so badly for becoming friends with Shoko that she eventually changes schools and once again leaves Shoko without an ally. Most viewers can resonate with this feeling of emptiness and alienation Shoko experiences in the absence of a friend (I myself had four friends move away throughout elementary and middle school, all best friends too).
The bullying eventually escalates to kids occasionally stealing Shoko’s communication notebook and hiding it or submerging it in school’s fountain. Others, like Shoya, push her away physically when she attempts to communicate with them. Some students steal her hearing aids and toss them in such a way that they are lost permanently or damaged beyond repair. And one time, when Shoya pulls out her hearing aids during class, he pulls much too hard and blood comes streaming from Shoko’s ears. We all have our stories of physical and mental abuse from our peers throughout school, and this is the dark side of youth that the film expresses so well alongside youth’s superficial idylls. Therefore, we can all sympathize with Shoko and with the emotional pain she experiences: intense and often irrational rage toward our aggressors, self-hatred and suicidal ideation, numbness and emotional distance.
Many of us have also been the bullies at times in our lives. When Shoko’s physical safety is threatened by Shoya pulling out her hearing aids, the class’s teacher who had hitherto avoided addressing the problem (as do most teachers in my experience) is forced by the pressures of Shoko’s mother and the school’s administrator to punish those responsible. Shoya’s mother meets with Shoko’s mother and gives her 17,000 yen (15 to 20 k in U.S. dollars) to pay for the hearing aids her son Shoya destroyed. Shoko’s mother also beats up Shoya’s mother to pay her back for the transgressions of her son. Shoko changes school and Shoya remains behind where he becomes a pariah as the leader of the bullies who forced Shoko to leave.
As Shoya grows up and enters high school, we learn that he has studied sign language profusely to one apologize to Shoko. He has also worked a part-time job and sold all of his comic books and other collectibles to save up 17,000 yen to pay back his mother for the costs she incurred on his behalf. Finally, the damage he wrought to Shoko emotionally and psychologically hung so heavy a burden on his heart that he plans to kill himself after delivering the apology and the money. And again, like so many of us, his nerve and his resolve are too weak and he doesn’t go forward with his plans after all. His mother sees his cryptic messages on his personal calendar at home wherein one day is listed as final day and the remaining months and days in the calendar have been ripped out. She refuses his money and accidentally burns it. Later, Shoya helps a boy named Tomohiro when a bully tries to take his bicycle and thereby Tomohiro earns himself his first friend in years. And what’s more is that his dialogue with Shoko develops into something much more, which helps both the bully and the bullied to overcome their pasts little by little despite the fact that they will never fully escape these spectres.
A Silent Voice won tons of awards and made a sizable return on investment financially for its beautiful portrayal of youth in its multifaceted nature, in both its highs and its lows. Celebrated hack director Makoto Shinkai called the film beautiful, masterful, and an achievement better than anything he could hope to create. And while Shinkai’s 2016 film Your Name topped the box office, it and his entire oeuvre do nothing more than chart the emotional vicissitudes of a particular kind of romanticized-philosophical youth refracted through the mind of a 20-something otaku, while A Silent Voice speaks to all who have experienced youth in an immediate manner that leaps off of the screen and directly into our hearts. Whereas Shinkai analyzes youth, Naoko Yamada merely reflects it and thereby delivers the real thing.
(Check out my previous Frederic Back film review: ¿Illusion?)
Taratata is a term you probably haven’t heard unless you’ve studied French, and even then, I studied French for four years at University and Quebecois culture, politics, and dialect for a full semester and still didn’t know what it meant. Google Feedback defines it thus: Onomatopée exprimant l’incrédulité, la défiance, le mépris. It is used as an onomatopoeic interjection expressing incredulity, defiance, or contempt. In the context of a short film by Frederic Back it is used with a political sense in mind.
But first to the film’s production history. Back’s previous film was released in 1975 and throughout the latter half of 1976 and the first few months of 1977, Back worked to create Taratata which would become his fifth film. Unlike Back’s previous experiments, Taratata is shorter than its predecessor. Rather than slowly working his form toward lengthier narratives, Back decided to condense the narrative and remove all extraneous content to make it as concise and cohesive as possible. He worked with one assistant (Suzanne Raymond) who aided Back as an in-between artist, tracer, and colorist, but otherwise left him to his own devices.
After doing a bit of research, I found that Back used assistants on half of his projects hitherto, but always for different reasons. On his first film, Abracadabra, Back had six assistants assigned to his production from a higher up at Radio Canada Broadcasting in order to speed along his process. Back chafed at these restraints and on his next two films, he refused assistance altogether, instead opting to create his films entirely by himself. This is kind of extraordinary as both of those films were released within one year, and it is only when Back had assistance that his production times began to drag on. For his fourth film, ¿Illusion?, Back again had an assistant (this time only one). And somehow his production time on that film (less than a minute longer than the two he created by himself) took a whopping 18 months to create. Although Taratata is three minutes shorter than that film at 8 minutes and 30 seconds, it only took him 8 months to produce. Suffice it to say that Back was an experimental filmmaker who took his time going down interesting rabbit holes and producing his work part time while fulfilling his main duties at Radio Canada.
The film itself is about Saint-Jean-Baptiste Day in Quebec, which is an ancient European religious holiday that had previously been celebrated in the old countries for hundreds of years prior to colonization and European imperialism in North and South America. In Quebec, the festival was a celebration of Quebecois heritage and history, and Back shows this as parade floats of colonists and natives, of fur trappers and patriots, of the church and of traditional music and dancing, and of frontiering and exploration float on by through the streets.
A young boy attempts to watch the parade from a light pole, but finds himself viewing the latter half of the parade wherein the American flag is draped along many floats. This signals the parade of modernity that America represents to the world: Industry and its hazards like pollution, child labor, unsafe work environments, and alienation from one’s labor and one’s life. Militarism and its discontents like imperialism, slavery, death, the war machine, the military-industrial complex and the buying of politicians that signaled the death of democracy and a shift toward a corporate hold on politics. Nuclear science, the atomic bomb, nuclear energy and catastrophic accidents like Chernobyl. Skyscrapers and mega-architecture, the birth of cities, Durkheim’s studies on suicide, mass malaise and existential dread in the face of living life as a media being artificially made to revere to spectacle through advertising and other such forms of anti-Free Market propaganda (because remember, enough advertising is what makes a brand the ‘best’, not its actual qualities. Logic dictates that there are better soda companies than Coke and Pepsi, but we keep buying those because advertising perpetuates the rich company’s popularity despite it potentially not tasting the best or being the most affordable. Advertising is, in this sense, anti Free Market.).
The scared child who has witnessed this parade evades the scene by running down a morbid backstreet where he falls asleep until night falls. Once awakening, he returns to the main streets and finds trash littering the ground where this once great revelry of Quebecois pride and heritage passed through in its current devolved form. The boy imagines the grandeur of a great parade without politics and without the machine. And his vision is so potent and nostalgic and beautiful that it manifests in the minds of those denizens who were similarly disaffected by the charade of a parade Saint-Jean-Baptiste Day has become. All gather around to dream together of a better day, and the little boy retires back to his side streets with a smile across his face for the first time that day.
In the years leading up to Taratata, Saint-Jean-Baptiste Day was undergoing some real changes for the worst. It had become a day celebrated by the right wing and by nationalists who wished to revoke non-Catholic and non-French-Canadians from its celebration and thereby from an essential element of Quebecois-ness itself. In 1964, there were protests against the then-Governor Vanier of this right-wing nature. Again in 1968 there were riots against Trudeau’s visitation of the event as he was notably an inclusive politician and head of the Liberal party. In 1969, nationalist riots erupted like never before through anti-immigrant rhetoric and the effigy/icon of Saint-Jean-Baptiste was toppled and destroyed. Finally, in 1970, there was no Saint-Jean-Baptiste Day parade event at all.
Throughout the 1970s, these problems remained. But it just so happens that in 1977, the government passed a law mandating Saint-Jean-Baptiste Day a national holiday. This helped to transition the day definitively away from nationalist rhetoric as it became a time when many Quebecois were off of work and could celebrate the multi-faceted, multi-ethnic background and current reality of Quebec together without a preponderance of religious or traditional-ethnic rhetoric being associated. Today, this parade is a celebrated event and often fun parade for those of Quebec in which politics often comes to the forefront. However, these politics are often more inclusive and leftist, and thereby more in keeping with Back’s ideals and with the ideals of freedom and social liberalism on which Western democracies are based. And otherwise, this day has returned to being a celebration of heritage, history, and the multi-cultural present reality of the province that refused to be assimilated by English Canada so many times in its history.
[Next up: Tout Rien]
It’s that time again. The beginning of the month when I collate all the cool stuff happening with Anime, Manga, and Conventions this month.
As always, Fathom Events is the group bringing the most theatrical anime to North American Theaters this month. On February 7th & 10th you can catch the American Premiere of I want to eat your pancreas, which is a pretty highly acclaimed coming-of-age romantic drama that has little to do with the guro its name implies. The second film you can check out in local theaters through Fathom is Mobile Suit Gundam Narrative on February 19th. This is an adaptation of the 11th Gundam Unicorn novel and is directed by Toshikazu Yoshizawa, who also directed the acclaimed Mobile Suit Gundam Thunderbolt anime series. Third piece of news here is that neither GKIDS nor Fathom have announced a Studio Ghibli 2019 film series though this event began in March during the past two years it ran. So keep an ear to the ground for that one.
Next up, anime home video releases. Starting with Discotek Media, there are three announcements that are particularly interesting, all set for release February 26th. The first two are Blu-Ray releases of famed Madhouse director and anime auteur Rintaro’s films Galaxy Express 999 and Adieu Galaxy Express 999. The second is a little-known cult classic anime film, again from Studio Madhouse, called Twilight of the Cockroaches that is set for DVD release in what I believe is the first such Western release of the film.
Second, is another three films set for release through Sentai Filmworks this month, all on Blu-Ray. The first, Space Runaway Ideon: The Complete Collection, is the brainchild of director Yoshiyuki Tomino (the creator of Gundam) slated for release February 5th. Second, Parasyte- The Maxim: Complete Collection out on the 19th. Third, one of Ryutaro Nakamura’s masterpieces Kino’s Journey: The Complete Collection out on the 26th. If none of these titles interest you, however, these are just a few amongst dozens of films slated for release in February by these two boutique anime home video companies. More titles and their back catalogs can be found at the links above.
Manga! There aren’t as many February releases that sounded vital to me in this comics medium as in the anime medium, but nonetheless there are a few titles that I thought worth mentioning here. The first is from Viz Media. It’s a classic Rumiko Takahashi manga that was later adapted into one of Mamoru Oshii’s first directorial jobs as an animator, and became the gift that kept on giving as that great director of films like Ghost in the Shell and Angel’s Egg was given the chance to direct two of his first features from it. That’s right! Urusei Yatsura is getting a new American manga release on February 19th.
Seven Seas Entertainment is also releasing a few interesting manga and light novel titles throughout February. The Boogiepop Omnibus Vol. 4-6 light novel series is being released on the 5th to support the new Boogiepop anime Boogiepop and Others. Two more classic collections of material are soon set for release through Seven Seas as well. These include Captain Harlock: The Classic Collection Vol. 3 and Space Battleship Yamato: The Classic Collection on February 26th. To round out your collection of early Leiji Matsumoto and Go Nagai, I suggest checking out their prior Classic Collection editions of Devilman, Cutie Honey, and Captain Harlock as well.
Finally, there are quite a few notable anime conventions running throughout February. In fact there are more than I could hope to list here without driving you, and myself, to utter and complete boredom, as there are something like 3-5 anime conventions going on in North America every weekend of February at this point. So instead, I’ll just list a few that are in my general area and look promising:
Virginia: Star City Anime Con in Roanoke from the 1st-3rd. ODUCon in Norfolk from the 8th-10th.
Georgia: Seishun Con in Atlanta from the 8th-10th.
Florida: NotCon at Sea. An anime convention on a Cruise Ship! Departing Miami on the 15th and returning the 18th. I can sense debauchery and excess all over this one!
Tennessee: Con Nooga in Chattanooga from the 22nd-24th.
[Postscript: I’ve been devouring anime this year and have seen 22 in the past 19 days. I’m getting a decent sense of what anime might just be contenders for the best anime of the year already. So keep an eye out for Boogiepop & Others; The Promised Neverland; Carole and Tuesday (directed by Shinichiro Watanabe); and Blade Runner (produced by Watanabe and directed by Kenji Kamiyama and Shinji Aramaki). Cheers!]