Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Strike Witches

Every Tuesday, the Alamo Drafthouse Lake Creek theater -- a wonderful full-service bar / restaurant / theater -- shows anime at 7:30 pm, with no admission.

Beer buckets and Japanese cartoons - how great is that?

This week was "Strike Witches", from Funimation / Studio Gonzo.

The entire country of Japan should be angry at the Alamo Drafthouse.

Don't get me wrong - I totally dig Studio Gonzo. The English voice over from Funimation was a bit painful, but not horrendous.

But there is so much amazing Japanese animation out there, I think the Drafthouse is doing the genre a big disservice by showing something so stereotypical, so borderline ecchi, that they're probably turning off a huge number of newcomers to the medium.

For ''Strike Witches", if I made "every time you see a prepubescent girl's panties" a drinking game, I would have been under the table halfway through the first episode.

I know.

Add big eyes, cat ears (and a tail, giving more excuses to see young girls' underwear), school girl uniforms, mecha (machine parts), and lesbian fantasies, and you have everything critics id this style of animation like to trot out.

Now, this also has the stuff I so enjoy about Japanese cartoons.

In the midst of this mud are bright shining moments of commentary about the militarized state, jealousy, and soul-touching moments of familial responsibility and father-daughter loss.

And then another panty shot. At dad's grave.


I think if Drafthouse put some of the great stuff out there - "Grave of the Fireflies", "A Wind Named Amnesia", "Memories", or even the sentimental stuff like Robotech or Votron, they could really further the interest in and excitement for anime as a cultural medium.

Not that it mattered tonight, where there was a sum total of three people in the theater - and me and the guy I talked into coming know anime, and know there's better stuff out there.

Ok, so this is less a review than a cultural accountability statement.

Quick review: Fluid animation, middling voice acting, fun action kept well in check, some highbrow themes, and lots of stereotypical fan service.