Tuesday, April 15, 2014

6 Questions #4

Welcome to another edition of "Learn Shit About Poe." Or as I tend to call it "6 Questions. The segment where I answer six questions that deal with myself. Why are you all my fine readers getting a new installment of this segment? Because I am bored and needed filler till the next review.

Today's questions...come from Tumblr. Yeah since nobody has asked me anything for this segment lately, I decided to grab a few questions off of one of those FAQ things people share around on Tumblr. These will probably come off as generic questions but hey, they were the ones that I felt like answering. So deal with it.


1. What would you name your future kids?

This is one of those things that I truly believe everybody without kids thinks about. Even at a young age I remember that we kids would sit around and talk about our dream lives and what we would name our children. It’s just one of those things we all do, like playing house and what not.

If I ever have a girl I plan to name her Violet Mable Ohlin (you don’t need to know my real last name). I chose Violet because it is my favorite flower, and the name of one of my favorite literary characters. Plus I just like girls with flowers for names. Mable would be the middle name. Why? Mable was the name of my mother’s grandmother (I can’t recall at the moment if it was her great or regular) and she was like a second mother to my mom. So because of that, I decided it would be a nice gesture to incorporate it into her name. As for a boy, I actually don’t really know. There are names I like such as Erik, Tobias, Seth, and a few others, but I’m not sure what one I would use. The same goes for a middle name.

So now you sort of know what I would name any future little Ohlins.

2. Is there anyone who can always make you smile?

There are a few people. Most of my friends and I exchange a lot of pictures we find funny, so they tend to make me smile that way. I do have a friend though (I will not say his name, however you know who you are) that makes me smile on a daily basis when we converse. He tends to botch words and it makes me smile when he does so with simple words. He’s also a pretty funny in general and his comedy can make me smile. But I think what really does it is because he’s always there for me if I need to talk, the same way I’m always there for him. I’d actually consider him my best friend. Even funnier is that he’s bi-sexual and has confessed to me. I’m not going to lie, if I was bi or gay I would probably date him. He’s a nice guy and we have a lot of common interests.

So yes, there are people (and one in particular) that always make me smile. I suppose that’s a lie since nobody can make you smile constantly. But these are the people that tend to make me smile the most.

3. When was the last time someone of the opposite sex hugged you?

If we’re counting family members, a couple of days ago by my mother. If we are not counting a member of my family, about two years ago by a friend. I don’t get hugged all that much. Part of it is because I’m not all that big on being touched and the other part is because not many people offer me a hug or do it out of pure random.

4. Have you ever wanted to tell someone something but you didn't?

All the time. I usually don’t speak up to either be nice or because I’m not quite sure on how to word it. Sometimes I wish I would speak up to people about stuff, but I tend to hold a lot of stuff in mostly by choice. It probably isn’t healthy to do that but sometimes it’s just better to be quiet then to speak up. If you can’t word what you want to say in the way you want to, don’t do it. If you can’t say what you want because you want t be nice, that’s fine as well, though I do promote ripping into people sometimes when they really deserve it.

5. Are your friends mainly girls or guys?

Most of my friends are girls. Why that is I have no bloody clue. I have guy friends, but not a whole lot compared to the number of girl friends I have. So yeah, most of my friends are female.

6. Do you currently have a girlfriend or boyfriend if you’re into that?

I do not currently have a girlfriend nor do I have a boyfriend. There is a girl I would like to date, however I am not going to pursue it anymore due to it now being a lost cause. It’s a case of she’s willing to give me a chance and puts the ball in my court. But before I can even make a move, she ends up entering a relationship with a guy. It lasts a month, they break up, and I get the same old shtick, rinse repeat. I would enjoy being with her, but I don’t want to wait for a formula to stop or even become part of some formula. As much as I like her, it isn’t worth my time and I’d rather just wait for somebody who is not cycling through guys. It may mean I have to wait to be in a relationship, but it would probably be the best thing to do in the long run.

That wraps up another edition of 6 questions. I hope you all enjoyed it and found my answers as informative as they always are. If you would like to send in questions for a segment of 6 questions, you can like the official Poe Ohlin page on Facebook (Poe Ohlin), follow me on Twitter (@XW1n5t0nX), and even follow me on Tumblr (Wonderland of Insanity). Until next time, continue being the sick demented twats that you all are and keep on playing the game of life.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Skull Man Review

 

Skull Man A.K.A. スカルマン (Sukaru Man)
Release Date - January 1970
Country of Origin - Japan
Written by Shotaro Ishinomori
Artwork by Shotaro Ishinomori


Many people who are fans of manga A.K.A Japanese comics (manga actually does mean comics in Japanese and is used to describe all kinds of comics, not just what we Westerners refer to as manga) like to debate who the best mangka is (the Japanese word for a comic artist or cartoonist). The names thrown out in said debates can honestly range all over the place. Somebody might say that Osamu Tezuka is the best while somebody could say Akira Toriyama is the best, or maybe even Masahshi Kishimoto will get a mention. To put it simply, while people may share the same opinions on who is the best, it is not uncommon while discussing the subject of who the best mangaka is to hear a variety of opinions.

So who do I your esteemed critic say is the best person to ever hold the title of mangaka? Why it is quite simple my darlings. Shotaro Ishinomori. ‘Nuff said. Okay maybe I should explain a wee bit more.

 

Shotaro Ishinomori (石ノ森 章太郎 Ishinomori Shōtarō) born as Shotaro Onodera (小野寺 章太郎 Onodera Shōtarō) before changing his family name to Ishinomori in 1986 has quite the pedigree in Japanese entertainment. Ishinomori has created many long running series in Japan in manga, anime, and tokusatsu (Japanese for special effects). His career started in 1963 with the series that gave Japan it’s first team of super heroes: Cyborg 009 (サイボーグ 009 Saibōgu Zero-Zero-Nain). Super heroes would become Ishinomori’s thing as he went on to create many popular dramas (mostly for the Toei Company) such as Android Kikaider (キカイダー Kikaidā), Hneshin Ninja Arashi, Inazuman (イナズマン), Kaiketsu Zubat (快傑ズバット Kaiketsu Zubatto), and countless others. However his main source of fans and everlasting impact comes from being the creator of the hit tokusatsu franchise Kamen Rider (仮面ライダー Kamen Raidā), as well as creating Himitsu Sentai Gorenger (秘密戦隊ゴレンジャー Himitsu Sentai Gorenjā) which is the first entry in the equally big franchise Super Sentai which would later lead to the creation of Power Rangers in America (Ishinomori also created the second sentai called J.A.K.Q. Dengekitai). In short Shotaro Ishinomori is a beloved and much (and rightfully so) admired mangaka whose work has had an everlasting influence on both Japanese entertainment, but also American entertainment.

So it is at this point that it becomes quite obvious that we are going to be looking at one of Ishinomori’s works. The work we are looking at today is a simple one shot, a story which was told in a single volume and left at that (well until 1998 that is). But this is also the story that is considered to be the grandfather of Kamen Rider and in fact, the original Kamen Rider is an adaption of this story. Today we look at Skull Man (スカルマン Sukaru Man).


Skull Man first appeared in 1970 in Weekly Shōnen Magazine (週刊少年マガジン) and upon release became an immediate sensation within Japan. Skull Man is actually one of the first antiheroes in manga, and along with how dark the story is made the short so successful. Think of Skull Man like Batman, except he dresses like a skeleton (not really though) and has a gun, and kills people, on purpose. Can you see why in 1970 this would have been successful? I’m not the biggest reader of old school manga but from what I have seen, Skull Man is definitely quite the oddity considering most series back then were either romantic, comedic, and while action packed, they weren’t as in your face/dark as Skull Man was.

Now as I mentioned, Kamen Rider is an adaption of Skull Man…sort of. Skull Man was used as the basis of the show, however Toei and producer Toru Hirayama made several changes to the story, as they felt it was too dark and gruesome for a children’s television show (this coming from the company which has a kid’s show about a Battle Royale esque story where people fight to death). So the story was changed to be more kid friendly and Skull Man lost his skeleton appearance and took on the appearance of a grasshopper (supposedly the image of a grasshopper was picked by Ishinomori’s son after seeing some doodles). However Ishinomori through the changes and all considered Skull Man to be his preferred version of the story, which isn’t shocking if the rumors of Shin Kamen Rider: Prologue being his favorite Kamen Rider is true. Anyways I think you get the picture. I’ve rambled on long enough; let’s dive into the story that started it all! Fair warning, there will be spoilers. Lots and lots of them. So if you don’t want the story ruined for you, you may want to just stop reading this review (perhaps even check out another review from the Poe Ohlin library).

Japan is in a state of fear as a string of mass murders happens. Investigating the case is the police, specifically the Tachiki Detective Agency. As they investigate the most recent crime (a laboratory that was assaulted and blown up) a survivor of the attack reveals to them that the person behind the crime is Skull Man. Skull Man is a man dressed in black attire (including a cape) and wears a white mask/helmet on his head. He carries a gun with him and apparently can hypnotize people with the eyes of the mask (they glow but I’m not 100% positive it hypnotizes people, they could just glow for an eerie effect). Along with Skull Man comes his aide Garo, a man who has the ability to shape-shift into different animals, though we only see him turn into a bat, werewolf, and alligator man throughout the story. A police chief named Tachiki recognizes the name, as apparently Skull Man and Garo have been behind all of the recent killings.

Soon after the investigation into the latest case begins, a young man named Tatsuo Kagura barges into their office, he carrying a detective in who died. As it turns out, Tatsuo is the son of the man behind the Kagura Gang, he even acting as the gang leader when his father is away. Tatsuo is a bored little boy and demands to be put on the Skull Man case so that he has some entertainment. Tachiki is hesitant at first but allows Tatsuo into the detective agency after performing a background check. The two begin working on the case together, Tachiki even telling Tatsuo the background of Skull Man.

The back story of Skull Man goes that when he was three years old his parents were killed. According to Tachiki, they were pretty dangerous people. Since then the police have been looking for that boy, they believing him to be the man behind Skull Man. To try and track him down, the agency investigates every three year old in Japan. With every year that passes, they investigate a new age group. All they know is that since Skull Man’s reign of terror has gone on for 15 years, he must be 18 since the prime suspect disappeared 15 years ago when the crimes began.


While Tachiki and Tatsuo continue to investigate, Skull Man strikes again. A body is found with a gunshot to the head, they recover a car from a river, four people were murdered in a forest, and a commercial airplane is blown up. Tatsuo ends up not coming to work for a week, he soon returning though. His absence comes a bit suspicious to Tachiki, as Tatsuo was missing when the most recent crimes (the four murders in the forest and airplane explosion) happened. Tachiki has actually been suspicious of Tatsuo for a while, especially considering how he randomly popped up and asked to be a part of the detective agency.


Tatsuo leaves the police HQ that day and returns to a mansion hidden with the woods/swamp (it’s kinda both), the same mansion where we the reader saw Skull Man and Garo emerged from earlier. This confirms what the reader already knew (seriously I’m not even kidding. You can tell its Tatsuo from his first appearance if you pay attention to how he and Skull Man speak); Tatsuo is Skull Man. Tachiki already knew this however, for as quick as Tatsuo arrives at his hideout the police surround the place. Garo ends up bursting out of the mansion to fight the guards, as well giving Tatsuo a chance to escape.

Tatsuo doesn’t escape though; he ends up appearing behind Tachiki dressed as one of his guards. Tatsuo then explains that the reason he killed everybody is because he is trying to find the man that murdered his parents (Tatsuo was adopted by the Kagura family). Tatsuo learned that certain people were connected to his parents’ murderer, and thus decided he would kill all of them and work his way up to the killer. After hard pressing Tachiki for a bit, Tachiki gives up the man’s name. Tatsuo kills him and heads off to the home of a man called Kogetsu Chisato.

Once there, Tatsuo and Garo come across a blind mute girl named Maya, as well as Chisato himself. The sight of the man responsible for the death of his parents sends Tatsuo into an intense rage, he threatening Chisato as well as explaining his plan. Before he can kill Chisato however, Maya uses telepathy to persuade Tatsuo to not kill Chisato. She also reveals some big news to our antihero. This news is major, this is the news the whole comic was…not really working up to. So what is the big news? Well it turns out that Maya is Tatsuo’s sister and Chisato is their grandfather. But oh wait, that isn’t all.

Turns out that Tatsuo and Maya’s parents were (get a load of this) mutants. Yes you read that correctly, mutants. Tatsuo’s father and mother were really smart when it came to science, so smart that Chisato describes them as inhuman geniuses. The couple was also conducting experiments that if they wanted to, could destroy humanity. Scared of this Chisato killed Maya and Tatsuo’s parents’ right after Maya was born. He planned to kill Tatsuo as well; however Garo took Tatsuo and escaped. He also thought about killing Maya but could not bring himself to do so. With Tatsuo gone, Chisato took Maya in as his own and raised her.

After dropping the bomb, Tatsuo starts freaking out and Maya tries to calm him down. Chisato however brings the four into a room with glass walls and traps them there. He sets the place on fire and eventually the four die in the inferno in a tragic, horrible fashion. The end.

So that was Skull Man. How was it? Well let me dive into my thoughts about the work.

The story of the manga isn’t really all that bad, especially for a one shot. One shots being one volume long sometimes tend to not succeed well in the story department. That’s not to say all are like this, but it isn’t uncommon. Skull Man though has a nice story which fits the one shot format really well. It moves along quite well enough so that everything builds onto each other. When you get to the final sections of the comic, you’re pumped and ready to see how it all resolves. It has a (somewhat) clear beginning middle and end. It’s also easy to see why Toei wanted to change the story around for Kamen Rider, as it’s a pretty dark story. I rarely ever see the darkness in stories people tell me are really dark, but this is a case where I see it fully. Tatsuo is definitely an anti-hero in all senses of the word here. He has a goal of revenge which has taken over his life. A goal that he wants to reach so much that he will kill people to achieve. And not just people involved with the person he seeks revenge against, he’ll kill innocent people such as the couple in the woods, passengers on the plane he blew up and the train he derailed, he’s willing to do whatever it takes to reach his goal even if he has to sacrifice the lives of innocent people to do so. That is why the story is so dark. Tatsuo’s main goal which is the driving force behind the story is simply revenge and that he’ll tear through anybody who gets in his way or just happens to be around when he acts. But enough of the darkness how is the story in the end? Well as I said when I started, it’s a really nice story for a one shot, and it fits that format very well. It has good pacing, memorable moments, some nice lines; it’s just an all around good story, albeit a really dark one.

But what is a story without its cast of characters? Probably something really boring, but luckily Skull Man has an interesting cast of characters. I pretty much already talked about Tatsuo n the last paragraph and the only other thing I can say is that he’s a nicely done character. So what about the other characters? Tachiki comes off as your regular old detective. But like Tatsuo, he’s obsessed with his end goal, the goal being to capture Skull Man. Because of that he falls into the typical character that an obsessed cop has, however he doesn’t get overly obsessed to where he shuns everything to work on the case. So for that I congratulate Ishinomori for not writing him that way. Overall, he’s not that bad of a character. As for Chisato and Maya, they aren’t really in the comic long enough to have developed characters to speak of. They come in right at the last minute and the only purpose of them seems to be to drop the information bomb. I would have preferred it if Tatsuo and Chisato fought for a little bit and then Maya came in and dropped the bomb of information on Tatsuo. It would have made for a better ending to me as well as given Chisato at least some more purpose other than being the giver of news. And as for Maya, yeah I don’t think her role here could be improved unless she was older, dated Tatsuo, and then in the end they pulled an Oldboy on the reader. But that’s just a little too much out there, so Maya is pretty much worthless as a character to me. And outside of those four, the other characters (including Garo) are just worthless and throwaway characters. Now out of the four, only Tatsuo and Tachiki really shine through as being good characters. Chisato had potential to be a good character, but he ended up being a missed opportunity. And as for Maya, she’s as pointless as the rest of the characters. So I would have to say that the characters here are pretty poor outside of Tachiki and Tatsuo.

Finally we come to the artwork. Ishinomori’s artwork is very similar to that of Osamu Tezuka, which makes sense since Ishinomori did in fact study under Tezuka. It’s a very distinct style when it comes to the way people are drawn. The human character designs are pretty nice, though some do look really similar (especially when you first are introduced to the detective agency). Skull Man’s design is very nice; I especially love the jacket part with how regal it looks. There’s just one thing though, he doesn’t looking like a skeleton! Serious how can he be called Skull Man but not look like a skeleton, or at least have a helmet that looks like a skull? Thankfully though, the 2007 version rectified this. But I digress. It is a good design; I just wish it looked more like the character’s namesake. However the true beauty of the artwork comes from the set pieces. My God do these look amazing. The scene in which Tatsuo and Garo ride through a swamp are some of the best pieces of artwork I’ve ever seen in a comic. The opening pages are also great and just scream good old gothicness. Once again, they’re some of the best I’ve ever seen. So as a whole, the artwork in Skull Man is really good. The character designs are good and the landscape/set piece artwork is just perfection.


Well after all of this, is Skull Man the dark grotesque masterpiece it is praised to be? Not really. First off while the story is in fact dark nothing is really all that grotesque. There’s some blood but not enough to be considered gory. While the artwork can be scary at times, it never comes off as gruesome. So I’d have to say that the comic is in no way grotesque, but it is as dark as people say it is. But darkness and grotesquery aside, how is the total package? While it isn’t the masterpiece some people make it out to be, it is a very good work in the realm of comics. Its story is nice and compact (though I do have one gripe I’ll go over in a minute), it has some phenomenal artwork, and while its character amount is small, the ones that are meant to be important are…slightly important. Maybe I should get to my criticisms now.

As I mentioned I do have a gripe with the story. I think they throw way too much at you in the final pages of the comic. First we are told that Tatsuo is Skull Man and given his reason for being Skull Man, that’s fine. But just a few short pages later the reader is hit with another twist about Tatsuo’s past. All of this comes too quickly right after each other in my opinion. Plus, I really don’t like how the final twist is rushed to where it’s just blurted out. I honestly do believe it should have been dragged out a bit with a fight between Tatsuo and Chisato before it was revealed, not immediately when Tatsuo arrives. The other complaint I have is in fact about the characters. We have four characters that play an important part in the story: Tatsuo, Tachiki, Chisato, and Maya. The problem is that only two of them are treated like major deals. Chisato doesn’t show up until the end and he doesn’t really do anything except spill knowledge that affects Tatsuo in a major way. He should have been portrayed as a really important character but in the end wasn’t. As for Maya, she’s pointless. Utterly pointless. She’s like Chisato but handled even worse with no purpose at all except for adding a bit of shock value. But that doesn’t make her a character; it just makes her a plot point. This along with the seemingly rushed/back to back twists just sort of bring the whole product down some, at least to me they do.

However those are my only strikes against the book. Everything else is great stuff to me. As a fan of Kamen Rider, it was really great getting to read the story that gave birth to the franchise I love so much. Plus it allowed me to finally read some of Ishinomori’s work that wasn’t a Kamen Rider story. So personally, I found it a great ride for those reasons. Critically I found Skull Man to be a really nice little comic. It’s a got a nice compact (If slightly muddled) story with great artwork to back it up. The original Skull Man has not been released physically outside of Japan yet. However it was released digitally in 2012 by Ishinomori productions and can be found online on a few manga sharing/reading websites.

The Skull Man is a must read in my opinion for any fan of Shotaro Ishinomori’s works, or is a fan of Kamen Rider. If you’re neither of those things, I’d still say it’s definitely worth a read. In the end, it gets my seal of approval and is one of the better comics I’ve read in recent years, regardless of what time it comes from.

A

*Images courtesy of Google*

Monday, March 17, 2014

Dead a Go! Go! Review


Dead a Go! Go! A.K.A. デッド ア ゴー! ゴー! (Deddo a go! go!)
Release Date - 1999
Country of Origin - Japan
Directed by Daisuke Yamanouchi
Starring - Masato Horii, Tarô Iwate, Kazue Onada, Salmon Sakeyama, Eri Inazumi, and Nami Fujita

You know watching a movie without subtitles can be a pretty interesting experience. Regardless of what language the movie is in, watching it without any subtitles is pretty entertaining. You won't understand what the hell is going on but that's the beauty to it. It can help you learn a new language (although usually subtitles help this out even more), you can use it as a chance to be your own MST3K commentator, and even treat it as a silent film...well kind of. With some movies you don't even need subtitles, as the plot can be so simple to understand by the visuals. Some films will leave you begging for subtitles to make sense of all of the imagery (coughcoughluckyskydiamond). But then there are some movies where it's a bit of a combo of both. You don't really understand what is going on and would like subtitles for, and also be able to understand the film by the visuals. I bring this up because today's film on the reviewing block is a prime example of a film that while easy to get into by the visuals on the screen, it could really use some subtitles so you know just what the hell is going on.

Today we will be looking at one of Daisuke Yamanouchi's many films from 1999; Dead a Go! Go! (デッド ア ゴー! ゴー! /Deddo a go! go!). As just stated, the film was released in what was Yamanouchi's boom period of 1999, as he released many films that year, especially a good chunk of the ones we've all come to know, love, and shit our pants to. However while the other films released that year in Muzan-E, Red Room, and Girl Hell 1999 are praised quite a bit, Dead a Go! Go! is considered the black sheep of the bunch. In fact I've seen a good chunk of people call this one of if not his worst film. Obviously everybody forms a different opinion on movies, but this one seems to get an almost unanimous vote for being the worst. To be honest I can kind of understand why. This isn't his goriest movie, and while we have no problem watching his other films without the luxury of subtitles, this movie needs those bad. So one could say the disliking comes from not understanding the movie as well as it not delivering on the gore, something which it seems most Yamanouchi fans expect out of his films (or at least I see it that way).

But do those reasons justify the claim of it being his worst film? Well there is only one way to find out, and that's to watch it. Now if it isn't obvious this review will not be in depth. I own this on its original VHS release and that is obviously not going to have subtitles. And I won't lie this movie is confusing. So please stay patient with me as I try my best to explain just what is happening. Also I haven't been able to find images of the movie itself on the internet, so this is going to be an imageless review for the most part.

The film begins as a man in a business suit walks over to a noose with a crate under it. He gets on the crate and grabs onto the noose, he bringing it over his head some. The man then stops and turns to the camera, he beginning to talk. Once again due to lack of subtitles and a fluent grip on the Japanese language I can't really understand what all he is talking about. If I had to take a guess though I'd say it's probably about death, specifically suicide, which as we will learn is a big part of the movie. As he talks we're shown some stock footage (in a weird creamy like black and white) of people walking around. Yay.

After that we come to our first case. Oh I forgot to mention that Dead A Go! Go! is an anthology film. There's four stories to it that all deal about death. With each one you get an interview with the victim, a flashback showing how they died, and then another brief interview. In between each segment the host holds a vignette which shows us the viewer how to kill ourselves. Each one is themed to how the victim of the case we just saw die. So for example after watching the case of a man who was hanged, the host tells us the correct way to hang ourselves. He brings out diagrams and even demonstrates himself how to do so. These segments are actually pretty funny just due to the fact that we're being informed of how to commit suicide properly. It's dark as all hell but it's still funny. Then again, I’m a sick bastard with a warped sense of comedy, so maybe it’s just me who finds it funny.

Our first victim is a father. His back story is one of the easiest to understand (save for one detail) out of the bunch and is thus easy to watch without subtitles. It seems that before dying, our father here had a pretty shitty life. His wife while subservient seems like she's in a comatose state, almost as if she's a vegetable but can actually move around. Along with this he has a daughter who looks like quite the whore facially (I have never seen a Japanese woman wear so much makeup outside of dressing in traditional geisha wardrobe in my life). It seems the girl is in love with this big guy who eats nothing but honey buns. He also seems to be mentally retarded. For some reason the father does not like the fact that the two is dating. I don't know if it's because he's retarded or because he's pissed that somebody is eating all the honey buns.

Late that night the man writes his suicide note (Japanese lesson for you all, jisatsu is Japanese for suicide) and heads out to what I think is either the basement or the biggest garage I've ever seen. He goes to hang himself but hears a noise and decides to investigate. What he finds is shocking...to him. Turns out that whore face and retard like to come down here for dates. The father then watches on as the girl pulls down her boy toy's pants and sucks his dick off, the man just standing there and eating a honey bun as she does so. She stops after a bit and takes her clothes off, the girl then lying on the ground so that she can masturbate. After watching for a bit retard goes over to her and the two start to have sex, the retard sounding like a mix between a naying horse and a squealing pig throughout. As he watches on the father becomes hard and starts to masturbate. He ends up getting caught by the couple and after hitting the big retard with a wrench, arguing with his daughter, they attempt to kill him. He runs off but doesn't get that far since he forgot to pull his pants up, this causing him to trip over. The retard grabs the rope the old man was going to use to hang himself with, and with assistance from the daughter, choke him to death, they even pulling on the rope so hard that it causes one of his eyeballs to pop out. With his death, our first story of death comes to an end.

Now we move on to our second case, this one concerning a woman. When we first meet her, she is almost completely nude, she only wearing her underwear. Along with being nude, she sports gashes along her wrist and a gash across her neck. Once her introduction is complete, the film moves onto the vignette of the circumstances leading to her death. She goes to a hotel with who one can assume is a fellow employee (they both are dressed in business attire). The man quickly becomes friendly and starts to rub his hands along her body, specifically her breasts. I will say this; she is definitely more attractive than the old man's daughter who looked like a whore. The woman seems into it at first, but her tune quickly changes as the man shoves her against a wall and forcefully pulls down her underwear to suck and lick her ass (and presumably her pussy slightly). He eventually gets her own the bed, she wearing nothing but her skirt. She talks to him for a little bit, I assuming her stating that she'll pleasure him. After sucking on his dick for a little while, the film cuts to the two having sex, the woman definitely not looking all to entertained or pleasured, it almost looking like she's crying.

After their little somewhat forced love session, the two enjoy an after sex smoke (why do movies and television always seem to show people smoking after having sex? I just don't get it). Judging by her facial reaction, the man says something that appears to upset her. She goes into the bathroom, her underwear magically back on her (did she put them back on after they had sex?). She turns the bath on and sits on the side of the tub, her facial expression being dazed like. While the man enjoys some noodles, the woman takes out a box cutter like blade and slits her wrist with it. The man (now redressed) walks into the bathroom to check on her, he seeing her holding the blade to her wrist, blood pouring down her arm. She walks towards the door and thus to him, however he cowers away in terror, leaving her in the hotel room to die. She wakes up in the bathtub, its water turned red from her blood. She takes hold of her blade again and places it to her neck, she slitting it in a slow cut. With this, she finally dies, ending our second case of the movie.

We then come to the third story, which is the shortest of the bunch. Why? Well, it’s because of our victim. Our unfortunate soul turns out to be a box, the host insinuating that there are a person’s guts inside of it. There is no vignette shown, and thus this segment is more or less the host talking. This is a case of when subtitles would have really helped, as I can’t understand what the host is saying which I’m assuming is telling the viewer about the box and what not. Footage of a train is showed though, so one could assume that whoever died got run over by the train, and had their contents put in a box. Though it makes you question that if this place the interviews take place in is the afterlife, why wouldn’t the victim have their body back? For comedy’s sake, the box actually rumbles as a way of communication, and when the host tries to open it, it starts shaking violently and even starts to bleed. Due to how this case unfolds though, there is no demonstration of death afterwards, the movie moving straight onto the fourth and final case.

Our final victim comes to us in the form of a 17 year old schoolgirl (who I find to be more attractive than whore face and our other female victim). Like victim number two, it seems as if this poor girl died via cutting herself, the harm only to her wrist which we see is bandaged. When the vignette of her back story begins, we see her just after slitting her wrist, she staring at the wound as she bends he wrist back and forth. It turns out that our victim was bullied by two other girls from school, as our next scene is her in a boiler room being bullied (Yamanouchi has a thing for dark boiler/run down rooms doesn’t he). One of the girls slaps our victim around a bit before bringing her up to her feet. She knees her in her gut, causing her to throw up and fall to the ground. One of the bullies then grabs hold of our victim, the other girl licking some of the vomit off her face (eww). The girl who licked her then runs her hand against our victim’s thigh, she then being handed a stick of what I believe is celery by her fellow bully. She uses a box cutter to sharper the celery, causing one to think our victim will be struck with it. But nope, our bully has something else in mind. She pulls down our victim’s panties and proceeds to rape her with the vegetable. Yes you read that right; our victim is raped by celery. The fucking hell Yamanouchi?

She (the victim) returns home and goes into the bathroom, blood running down her leg. She turns on the faucet and washes off her genitals, as well as the blood. She ends up noticing a razor and takes hold of it, she sitting down on the toilet afterwards. As you might have guessed, she has suicidal intentions on the mind, and slits her wrist, blood shooting out immediately in a fountain like style (but not in the volume of a fountain), though she does bleed enough to cover the floor with her blood (it being helped by the water).

We then cut back to our interview room, the host and victim continuing to talk. Going off of the girl’s reaction to something the host says, it appears as if she may not really be dead. And this is where the film gets mind fucking weird. As the host approaches her, she backs into our previous victims, and then into a wall. The four approach her (the old man holding the box) as she talks. The box begins shaking violently, causing the hold man to drop it, guts spilling out. It also appears that our host has died, as we now see his head covered in blood.

The girl runs past them and appears in a cemetery (I have no idea how), she continuing to run through it and into the woods. Turns out the bullies are in the woods as well, the catching up to the girl and stopping her. After talking for a bit, our subject runs off in front of them, she now wielding the razor she used to cut herself. She slits the throat of one of the bullies, and….the movie ends there. Huh?

My Copy of the Movie

That my dear friends was Dead A Go! Go!. All I can say is that it is certainly not the easiest film to understand. At all. Not one single bit.

The main confusing part of it comes simply from how the movie ends. Up to that point, we the viewers have been led to believe that the film outside of the flashbacks is taking place in the afterlife. However with our final case, it appears as that isn’t the case, as our victim does not seem to be dead and even escapes the place where this whole thing is taking place. So this begs the question, just where the hell did this take place? Was the girl close to dying but then somehow came back to life? What was the point of the interviews (this is probably explained in the dialogue)? What the bloody hell is this all about! This is why I think viewing a subbed version of the film would help greatly, as then we could understand just what is going on more. But without subtitles, we the viewers are just left in a state of utter confusion by the end of the movie.

The individual stories themselves are alright I guess. I can’t really comment on them too much due to not being able to fully understand them. Going off of what we are given visually though, they just seem to be alright. Out of the bunch, the first one is the easiest to watch without any knowledge of Japanese. It’s a simple story of a father with a crappy life, with him being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Anybody can view something like that and instantly understand what’s going on (though I would like to know why he’s so upset about his daughter being with retard though). The one with the woman is alright, but not being able to fully understand what is going on hurts it. Why does she go from resisting her coworker to being up to having sex with him? More importantly though, why does she kill herself? Unless you know Japanese or we get a subtitled version of the film, we won’t know. The third story doesn’t really amount to anything considering how short it is, as well as the lack of full understanding. As for the fourth, before the mind fuckery of the ending comes into play, it isn’t that bad of a story. A teenage girl is bullied at school (not to mention raped) and is depressed about it, it causing her to cut herself. Simple as the ABCs. If the story would have just stuck with this, it would probably be the best of the four. However the fact that it turns into what drags down the movie in my opinion really hurts it. Until the final part of her interview, it’s a great little story. But the minute it’s revealed what is truly going on, it becomes an utter mess that DESPERATELY needs to be explained with subtitles (or learning the language). I will say this though, outside of the third story, each one is paced very well and features a beginning, middle, and end. All in all, the stories as a whole are alright. Individually, they’re fairly nice. But the ending just fucks it all up and ends everything in a chaotic mess. So really, I’d have to say it’s all simply alright as a combined story and nothing more.

But we don’t watch Daisuke Yamanouchi for the story right (right?)? We watch these movies for the insane gore effects! Well I’ll tell you something, there isn’t much. The movie never reaches the degree of violence the Red Room films or Muzan-E do. The bloodiest the movie ever gets is in the business woman and schoolgirl sections, with the schoolgirl one being the more extreme of the two considering how much blood sprays in that section, not to mention the fact she’s able to (with the air of the running water) cover the whole floor with blood. The effects in the first story are nice, the eye popping out definitely being the gross moment of the movie. The guts that fall out of the box are fairly nice, you can tell that they’re fake though (helped in no part by the moving tentacles of it). The host’s gore effect is also pretty nice. However as I’ve already said, the schoolgirl story is when the film is at its bloodiest. As a whole, this is definitely Yamanouchi’s tamest exploitation/sleaze/underground horror film, it being surpassed by all of his other work.

As for the acting, it’s okay. Nothing really too spectacular. I wouldn’t really say any actor or actress did better than another one, nor did any do worst than any of the others. So the acting in general is simply okay. Don’t watch this though expecting Godfather level acting though (would you really watch this with those expectations though? It’s a freaking exploitation film).

In the end, Dead A Go! Go! is simply a film that is alright. When compared to Yamanouchi’s other work (regardless of the gore), it simply isn’t one of his better films (though I haven’t seen his porn films, so I couldn’t say if it’s better or worst then any of those). Compared to something like Kyoko VS Yuki which featured a very simple plot, it simply does not measure up. The stories individually range from good to alright. However when combining them all to tell one single story, it falls apart all because of how the movie ends. If it wasn’t for that ending then the film would be really nice as an anthology piece. I would have actually liked to see a few more vignettes. Of the three shown, two of them dealt with suicide, so it would have been nice to have seen another one based around homicide or even accidental death.

The gore effects are alright as well. They don’t really get to extreme or spectacular, they for the most part staying realistic (unless you don’t count popping an eye out via strangling realistic). You won’t find a ton of blood or guts here. Blood only makes a few appearances, it only get excessive in one story. Guts are shown, but they are not done well, the lack of blood on them easily showing off how fake they are, it not helped even more by the fact that the guts move. Outside of that, you will not see any of Yamanouchi’s trademark over the top violence.

At the beginning of the review I said that in evaluating this as a film that I would also give my opinion on why the film isn’t as liked as Yamanouchi’s other works. It is my opinion that the reason is simple; it simply isn’t that good of a film. The stories are okay but not anything great. The effects are there but do not reach the standards people set up for the man. The acting is simply alright, and isn’t anything to write home about. Does the lack of ultra violence provide a good reason to not like the film? I say no, but that’s just me. What about the confusion? Definitely. I can tell you all that if I could see this subbed or even dubbed, I would have a lot more to say about the story, I even possibly being more positive about the ending since I would have it explained. However unless you know Japanese or somebody subs or dubs the movie, you will be utterly confused by the end.

At the end of the day Dead A Go! Go! is a fairly fun way to spend an hour. But the lack of an understanding of the language hurts it very, very much. And unfortunately this is a case where my not understanding the movie plays a big part of my rating of the film. It’s a shame, I think understanding this movie would make it more enjoyable.

C -

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