Monday, June 17, 2013

Crusher Joe - The Movie

"Crusher Joe" is an anime series from the late 70's that I was not made aware of until the early 2000's.  Either it didn't get syndication here in the US or it did and it was never broadcasted in my town as a kid.  Regardless, when somebody recommended watching it I had gone through the standard "anime phase" or "cycle" most people my generation did:

Stage 1 "Innocent Kid" - "Wow!  What's this new style of cartoon that looks really awesome!  Holy cow!  People die and get killed in this stuff.  DUDE!  They pilot robots and mecha!  I want red motorcycle too!  OMG, this is the greatest shit ever!"

Stage 2 "Exploration" - "I'm going to watch all the anime I can!  THERE'S HOW MUCH OF THIS STUFF IN JAPAN???  I must go to every obscure video store rental in my neighborhood to see if I can find it.  I heard my buddy has a connect and is loaded with it."

Stage 3 "Realization" - How come none of these plots make sense?  Why did the robot just turn into a pretzel?  I don't get it.  Will they ever get to the point and fight the bad guy?  Is there even a plot to this?  Why the lengthy boring dialogues that are supposed to be deep, but were made for 13 year old Japanese kids and when translated they suck?"

Stage 4 Indifference - "What?  Yet ANOTHER anime about mecha and young kids piloting them as they grow and mature through life?  Yaaawnnn.. oh, hey, college is starting. No more anime for me."

In short whatever novelty and uniqueness about the art or style of Japanese anime is quickly overshadowed by the generally crappy, if not outright lack of, plot or character development.  You go from an intrigued kid with too much time on his hand to an adult who doesn't have time for lousy animation and you rarely revisit anime again, and thus why I was skeptical about "Crusher Joe - the Movie."

However, every GREAT once in a while a masterpiece of anime comes out that doesn't suck and actually warrants your time and viewing.  Cowboy Bebop being one of them (practically mandatory), Spice and Wolf (yes Mr. Fuller) being another, and Ninja Scroll being a third.  "Crusher Joe - The Movie" is one of these films and since I know have a subsegment of anime fans let me provide a quick review.

The drawing style is 1970's/early 80's.  There are some obvious mistakes made (note the ambulance scene), but these do not detract from the overall quality of the film.  Matter of fact I would almost say it makes it "classic" in that 30 years have gone by and it is interesting to see how the style matches the fashion at that time.  The plot is CLEAR and very straightfoward.  No attacking octopus god from the sea who changes into a super mecha only unless the princess can overcome her feelings for a young boy and interfaces with some quasi deity.  They are mercenaries for hire, period.  They get a mission, period.  The mission does not go as they presumed, period.  Ass-kicking commences.

But what I like the most about it, especially for it's time, is its character development and dialogue.  It's very witty, very clever, especially for the era it was made.  It would be on par with the crew of "Firefly" or "Cowboy Bebop."

Unfortunately, I believe they stopped making the movie in production in English because so few are out there they now cost around $200.

So if anybody has a Crusher Joe dvd or knows where to get one, I would certainly appreciate it.

for reference:


Unknown said...

The Crusher Joe clip is in Spanish, but I might watch it anyway just because I can probably understand most of it.

I remember growing up with some anime, but never really got that into it or saw what the big deal was besides for the good sense of anatomy and draftsmanship on the best ones.

It was mainly the stuff that they used to air on Toonami. I have never watched Cowboy Bebop or any of the ones listed here, but if it's adult oriented like The Boondocks or The Venture Brothers, then I'll have to check it out.

daniel_ream said...

What non-hardcore anime fans tend not to realize is that anime is just another medium in Japan. So there's just as much nonsensical crap aimed at the lowest common denominator over there as there is here in North America, but your initial exposure to anime is likely to have been the stuff selected for export - that is, the high quality stuff.

One interesting bit of Japanese culture is that getting into university is a) hard and 2) pretty much seen as a pass/fail life test, so the large numbers of people who don't get in tend not to want to be reminded of that fact, nor watch entertainment about people who did. This is why so much anime is about high school students - it's the last life experience that every possible viewer is going to have had in common.

I think a useful service would be some kind of database for adult anime fans that don't want to watch snotty high school kids, juvenile panty humour, Yet Another Giant Robo/Sentai team, overweening emo angst, or Japan's suicidal pacifism in their anime.

patriarchal landmine said...

yes, except I moved directly to stage 3, with intermittent stage 2a (look at this weird porn).

The Great and Powerful Oz said...

I haven't seen that one. I did enjoy Spice & Wolf on Hulu, but I never understood why it got a TV-MA rating.

Princess Jellyfish was an honest treatment of geek/nerd/otaku personalities. I recommend it.

Death Note was strange and followed a series of premises through to their inevitable end. Not for children.

I'm watching Attack on Titan. Very bloody, very violent. I'm not sure where the story is going yet.

I'm also a bit of a junkie for the music in a number of anime series. The Japanese put more effort into the opening and closing credits than most American shows put into an entire season. I had the music from Noir stuck in my head a year or so after I finished the series.

You can tell a lot about a culture from their fiction. Look at not only the story being told, but what's going on in the background. Look for the hidden assumptions. After doing that for a while with fiction from a very foreign culture, take a look at your own. The contrasts is some much greater that you can see things in your own culture that you never noticed before. American fiction is hedonistic and nihlistic with a set of values that I totally reject.

Anonymous said...

If any of you liked Ninja Scroll you should definitely give these two animes a try.

Sword of the Stranger

Watch Online


Watch Online

Amethyst said...

I highly recommend the Magnetic Rose portion of Otomo's "Memories" anthology:

It's one of those rare absolutely perfect anime. Visually inventive, and with a deep story. (And it's set in SPAAAACEEE!!!!)

Self-exiled Spaniard said...

Hello crowd,

It's italian, not spanish.

Pax Empyrean said...

I'm just glad that I finally got you to watch Spice and Wolf. :)

Now I just need to get you to read (not watch, the anime sucks) Maoyuu. It is the macroeconomics to Spice and Wolf's microeconomics. This version is best:

"I haven't seen that one. I did enjoy Spice & Wolf on Hulu, but I never understood why it got a TV-MA rating."

Because Horo (Holo, romanice however) spends an awful lot of time naked, I would suspect.

"I think a useful service would be some kind of database for adult anime fans that don't want to watch snotty high school kids, juvenile panty humour, Yet Another Giant Robo/Sentai team, overweening emo angst, or Japan's suicidal pacifism in their anime."

You pretty much have to hang around with anime geeks for that, or at least talk to them on the Internet.

-Ryan Fuller

Paul, Dammit! said...

Growing up I watched the first widely-distributed anime in the US- 'Star Blazers.' A completely fantastic storyline (leaving the galaxy for the first time in search of help to save earth from an invastion), death and blood here and there, and then I found that it has been remade with a more cogent plot, and the new version is visually stunning. I've been watching the series with my 10-year old, who is captivated. I doze on and off, being long over my anime phase, but seeing it through his eyes is fun, and so far there's no overtones of tentacle porn and the usual weird shit that gets thrown in.

jsl2837 said...

I'd like to recommend 'FLCL'. The Pillows made the music for it. The band members are pushing 50 but still rocking like young men!
Youtube fan mix:

Anonymous said...

If you liked Cowboy Bebop then you should watch its spiritual successor Samurai Champloo. Despite being an action series (and really good at that), it somewhat requires you to be a professional japanologist (or read hell of fan guides) to really catch all the details, but it's worth it. One of the deepest pieces of fiction ever created, surpassed only by classics like Thomas Pynchon as far as I know (and I know my fiction).

Also, everything by the director Akiyuki Shinbo. That is, if you appreciate postmodernism, surrealism and gag series.

Pax Empyrean said...

FLCL is really freaking weird.

It's got an angsty kid who sort of grows up or at least comes to terms with being a kid, and there are bizarre sexual metaphors involving guitars and robots coming out of people's foreheads.

It's only six episodes long and the production values are good, but if your reaction after the end of the last episode wasn't "WTF did I just watch?" then you weren't paying attention.

I might recommend it to someone who thought Excel Saga wasn't crazy enough, but for sane people? You can't just tell them to go watch FLCL.

The soundtrack is good, but can it keep up with Dragonball Z?

OregonGuy said...

I have two films I enjoy.

The best is "Howl's Moving Castle." Great soundtrack. Directed by Miyazaki.

The second is called "Spirited Away." Again, directed by Miyazaki.

Okay, I even enjoyed "Ponyo." (Miyazaki.)

There's a pattern here. If only I can discover it.

Midknight said...

I'll second that Miyazaki in general (Spirited Away, Kiki's Delivery Service, and Princess Mononoke being my favorites) is worthy.

I never did see a translated Crusher Joe, watching it on bootlegged VHS (I perhaps may have owned such...) back in the late 80's. Even tracked down and bought/built a model of their spaceship. Side note - when FASA blatantly ripped off anime - mostly Macross - for their original battledroids/battletech edition, the "locust" model drawings were ripped out of crusher joe....

Full Metal Panic, seen recently as an adult, was pretty good. Bebop, yes, is classic.

adiaforon said...

"Bebop" = classic.

Another classic, but not a series, is "Akira."

Finally, don't forget "Gatchiman" and "Beast King Golion." I watched both in their "Battle of the Planets" and "Voltron" incarnations back in the early 80s. Both sanitized, of course.