TIFF results

Aaron Gerow gerow at ynu.ac.jp
Wed Nov 8 20:29:07 EST 2000

>Just out of curiosity, would you, personally, use the same phrase to
>describe Evangelion?!?

Actually, I found Evangelion more palatable, perhaps because it was in 
shorter segments with more entertainment value, but also because what he 
was doing there was easier to do in anime.  Try some of the same things 
in live action, as he was doing in Ritual, and you end up with a mess.

>Also, what's Oshii's Avalon about exactly? Is it as theatrical as something
>like Talking Head? Does it integrate animation with live action?

Eija desfribed some of it, but to add a few things: The story, set in the 
near future, is about an illegal computer role playing game called Avalon 
which has some players who are so good they make a living at it.  While 
most players participate in teams, some, like the heroine Ash, a woman 
who used to be a member of the legendary Wizard team, works alone. While 
the game can be reset, some who engage in dangerous activities can end up 
"unreturned"--basically brain-dead in real life. After learning about a 
player "Bishop" who plays very much like her, she also finds out that one 
of her Wizard teammates has gone unreturned.  In order to find out about 
him, and to clear up the past (a perpetual Oshii issue), she challenges a 
special place inside Avalon where you get double the experience points 
but can't "reset".  

The film was shot in Poland with Polish actors and all the dialogue is in 
Polish.  Oshii shot it there cause he could use the Polish Army cheaply, 
but also because he likes Polish cinema and the sound of Polish.  The 
cinematographer is Polish and the bleak, mostly black and white 
photography of a declining Warsaw is reminiscent of 1950s Polish film.  
Oshii's statement about originally wanting to set some of the story in 
the sewers does link with Jin-Roh, but it also connects with Wajda's 
Kanal.  (And one wants to relate "Ash" to Ashes and Diamonds, though she 
does not wear Zybulsky sun glasses.)

THe presentation is not theatrical at all, though certain restricted 
spaces and a musical performance figure importantly.

Some of Oshii's "anti-otaku" critique is evident in the film.  He said he 
wanted an Ash like Kusanagi in Ghost in the Shell, but just as she is 
more adult than the manga, Ash is played by a real-life mother in her 
late thirties (not your cutsie idol).  The entire ending, playing with 
the boundaries between game and reality, as well as the power-relations 
involved in that and the desire for reality/unreality, are quite 
interesting, but as with earlier Oshii work, there's always the remaining 
ambivalence typical of the anime director who hates anime.  (He said 
before the film this is the kind of film he wants to make: i.e., not 
anime and not live-action, but a mixture of both worlds).

Aaron Gerow
Yokohama National University
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