Mindbender marathon: Lain/Kon/Ōtomo simulwatch

Neil.T

Chuunibyou
That bit was just weird at first. Why are they speaking in each others voices? I suppose there could be something to read into it, but maybe Eiri was just doing it to annoy Lain.
There could be something to read into it, or it could just be a little something extra to freak the viewer out with. 😛

The swap could be taken as Eiri demonstrating the extent of his power over information, or it could perhaps instead be an allusion to its inherently volatile and unpredictable nature in the world of Lain.

I'm being deliberately provocative here, but... if it is a deliberate act, can we really be sure that Eiri is the one doing it? 😏

To me they're just talking about religious theory.
I just watched that scene in English and wow, it really doesn't come across clearly at all that Lain and Eiri are speaking each other's lines. As you say, it just sounds like they're having a debate. I'd be confused watching that. 😯
Believe me, dude: in Japanese it's made utterly explicit that they've switched places, because Eiri is using angry Lain's feminine speech forms. In English, though, he's just talking in a soft voice, and Lain doesn't come across as masculine to me. Not really that good, I don't think. 😬

a hologram and a homunculus are 2 very different things. One physical and the other isn't for a start!
They certainly are very different, yeah. Maybe a case of minced metaphors there. It definitely seems to cross the line of contradiction.
 

WMD

Death Scythe
Paprika

This movie is so glorious! First off the blending of a tense thriller with a poppy aesthetic is amazing and really feeds into the story that dreams are wondrous and intoxicating but you can lose yourself to dreams and forget to live. What's interesting is that almost every character is guilty of this in some way.
  • Atsuko Chiba literally is literally shunning the fun of her personality to chase the academic dream. This then becomes Paprika, her dream self, which is her true dream.
  • Kōsaku Tokita is chasing the idyllic dream of his genius, but is forgetting that their is more to life and his work. This is really stated by Chiba when she chides him over his "freakish masturbation"
  • Detective Toshimi Konakawa is literally trapped in the dream of his past failure to the point that his entire present narrative is built around it.
  • Morio Osanai is lost in his jealousy obsessing over the dreams of what he cant obtain for himself.
  • Seijirō Inui is also trapped in a dream of the past but by the memories of what hes lost. His nostalgia leads him to deride the future and progress yet simultaneously try to corrupt it for his own backwards outlook.
I love the way Kon intros his films. They're so bait and switchy but that's why they're great and tie to themes so well. The intro makes us feel like fun will ensue with the clown then we're watching a cop crime drama then all hell breaks loose and a crazy genre swapping dream seque is taking place. Literally describing the whole film to come: a story of dreams and reality, that's a crime drama and fun poppy ride told in multiple genres with multiple stories going on that's going to go crazy by the end. All in a couple of minutes!

I also love how the OP evokes Perfect Blue with Paprika floating around in images and yet it's so much happier and wondrous than the sinister way Perfecr Blue used similar techniques.

And like all Kon films we get our stories within stories angle again. Especially with the Detective Konokawa whose entire life is a woven tapestry of fiction inspiring life, inspiring dreams, and then affecting life again and it's only by finishing his fictional story that his real life story can be allowed to bloom. I love how this all lead to a deconstruction of story telling where the detective and Paprika just discuss film making for a while.

I also appreciated the meta angle of Kons other films having posters up at the cinema at the end.

There's a lot of great dialogue in this film. One of my favourite lines being "Well, why are you a monkey?"
 

Neil.T

Chuunibyou
My attempt at something resembling a post about today's film:

"Light and dark. Reality and Dreams. Life and Death. Man and...?"

"Woman?"

"Then you add the missing spice."


Paprika

Right from the start, it's very clear that this film is the work of a magician.

And the opening title sequence: well, it's the best opening title sequence in anything that's ever been made or that ever will be — for as long as animation exists. That's what I believe anyway, because I actually love it.

My comments about this film were never going to be particularly coherent, so I'll just wax lyrical instead about another couple of elements that make up the complete work.

One is the voice cast. What a sublime voice cast it has. There's Megumi Hayashibara (Doctor Atsuko Chiba), Akio Ōtsuka (Detective Konakawa) and Kouichi Yamadera (Chiba's junior researcher at the institute, Osanai) in the same film. You may know them best as Rei from Evangelion, Batou from Ghost in the Shell and Spike from Cowboy Bebop respectively. Hayashibara demonstrates her versatility with two very distinct voices for Chiba and her alter ego Paprika, Ōtsuka brings more of his sympathetic gravitas to his role in another wonderful performance, and Yamadera delivers his lines with that characteristic smoothness of tone that I could listen to seemingly without end.

Susumu Hirasawa provides the musical score, returning to the role he filled in Millennium Actress, and he is on absolute top form here. His beguiling talent is an integral part of the whole here, and he is instrumental in making that opening title sequence what it is. There's more to say about his contribution, but I'll save that for a future post; I own a copy of the Sony Entertainment DVD release of Paprika, which features a commentary track with Kon, and there's an interesting point to cover about the score for one of the big chase sequences. I'd like to rewatch that commentary before the end of the simulwatch, and perhaps offer up some snippets from it.

Since I haven't really been able to talk about any of the middle part of the film, I'll just skip straight to the end, spoiler-free. The last scene is at once a joyous nod to Kon's career up to that point that still raises a genuine smile with me, and a heartbreaking teaser of a world that will never be. In some way I would like to believe in the concept of a multiverse, because I want to believe that Kon is still making animation somewhere for fans to marvel at and enjoy.

If he is, then I'd like to import a copy of his long-since-completed fifth film, The Dream Machine, please. As well as the ones that come after that.

But for our own time, roll on that Paranoia Agent simulwatch.
 

WMD

Death Scythe
Susumu Hirasawa provides the musical score,
The score is superb in this film. Especially the way it so seamlessly negotiates the genre swapping. The tense thriller/mystery sections are really foreboding, and the bright over the top carnival sections are exactly that. On paper youd think this movie would be a mess but it all comes together into a coherent whole remarkably well.
 

Neil.T

Chuunibyou
Why not add Key The Metal Idol to the venue?
I think it's a bit late for this simulwatch, but perhaps something for the future if enough people were interested.

("Venue"? 🤨)


Anyway, back on track...
This movie is so glorious!
I love the way Kon intros his films. They're so bait and switchy but that's why they're great and tie to themes so well.
☝This. Yes. A hundred times over.
 

D1tchd1gger

Claymore
Just finished watching and even though it's the 4th? watch the ending still loses me. I think it because I think quite logically and this is quite abstract especially the end.
I can take all sorts of fantasy and sci-fi as long as the it stays consistent.

Bringing The Matrix back in again the explanation of how it works may not have an real world equivalent, even in the far flung future, but it makes sense and up to a certain point Paprika does too:

A machine that let's you record and even visit other people's dreams - sure.
If you have too much exposure to it, it can then be used to influence your own dreams (even when awake) - OK, you've explained it I'll let it slide.
Dreams invading the real world and destroying cities - um, WUT!

And just because of that, I guess it my least favourite. But as pointed out it certainly doesn't make a bad film, all the production side is stellar, just not quite as good as the others for me.

Just watched this YouTube video, the message is that you're not supposed to "get it", but experience it:
 

WMD

Death Scythe
Just watched this YouTube video, the message is that you're not supposed to "get it", but experience it:
That video was bloody brilliant.

Also details like the detective is actually dressed as a famous director is not something I'd ever pick up on but makes the scene even better now that I know.
 

Neil.T

Chuunibyou
Serial Experiments Lain
Layer 11: Infornography

"You're incredible... So you've loaded an emulator of that Navi into your own brain. It's dangerous to subject yourself to that much information all at once. At your current capacity, you'll overflow."

How prescient Eiri's words have become in the information age that we find ourselves living in 22 years after this series was created, now that there's so much newly uploaded content to consume on a daily basis from FaceTube, Instabook and Twittergram combined. Sometimes it all starts to coalesce into one big blancmange of... stuff. Or perhaps coagulate. The metaphors sometimes begin to bleed into each other as well.

You know, I've always loved the title of this episode; it makes data sound like something so sordid, and the desire to obtain it like a vice. The unusual multi-screen title card displays each one used thus far and reveals that each episode in sequence has switched the relative positions of the episode number and title between the upper left and lower right of the screen. I hadn't even noticed that small detail. This episode has them centered, with the title on the upper line.

Our bluesman "Chabo" provides an excellent discordant guitar soundtrack for the trippy first half of the episode. Using mostly recycled animation, it gives a kind of scrambled account of how we got into the mess we're in by this point.

Sneaked in in amongst this, though, is a snippet of a caption scrolling across the bottom of the screen on a TV news programme:

"Tachibana General Laboratories' Biochem Elementary Research Group has announced that they have mapped the human genome."

That was still science fiction at the time Lain was made, because in real life it wasn't officially declared complete until 2003. In fact, Dolly the sheep was still a relatively new achievement* of science then, being born in 1996.
[*Your morals and mileage may vary]

But the real crux of this series is pretty much summed up in the exchange between Lain and Alice in the latter's bedroom:
"I don't need devices anymore," Lain enthuses. "It looks like I've already destroyed the border between the Wired and the real world. I can go anyplace I want to now".

I only wish that the line hadn't been delivered with Lain looking like she's in cosplay as an X-Files-spec alien half-heartedly cosplaying as a half-height Freddie Kruger, though. 😅
(I still don't get the alien connection.)

She cuts a sinister figure after she's rewritten Alice's life for her, though, doesn't she, with her blob-like shadow and unsettling smile? That's a real low-key horror.

Only two episodes left to bring this all together.
 

WMD

Death Scythe
Lain 11

The episode is suitably sombre to start with showing us the empty sad house going to seed. Then we go into one of the best recap sequences I've seen in an anime. This visual audio collage of clips in a random order with, as Neil said, a discordant guitar playing a bluesy jazz number that never let's you settle. Also it seems to hint/confirm that one of MIB guys was the guy at Cyberia feeding Lain the new parts for her Navi system. It's a great little touch that I would never have noticed but also doesnt need a scene to exposit it either. It's a quick couple of frames and now we understand a bit more.

The rest of the episode sees Lain trying to restore a semblance of connection to Alice after hitting her lowest point. I like this development a lot. Alice was her one bright spot. The only person to treat her like a real person. Of course this is what Lain would do when shes thrashing about for an identity having had hers stolen by another version of herself. It's interesting that this seems to wake Alice up from the mind wipe that everyone else is still under.

In fact, Dolly the sheep was still a relatively new achievement* of science then, being born in 1996
Cloning has actually been around for a surprisingly long time. The first theories and attempts go back to late 1800s and even in the 50s amphibians were successfully cloned. Dolly the sheep was just another step on the ladder of scientific understanding. And today cloning technologies allows for stem cells to be produced the scientific and medical value of which still hasn't been fully understood.
 

HWR

CCG’s Reaper
AUKN Staff
Layer 11: Infornography

Again not much to add that hasn’t already been stated in the points above - the episode title is great though, can’t say I’ve seen this word all that often if at all.
 

D1tchd1gger

Claymore
The first half was the weirdest recap ever. The second half gave us the information of what Lain is and she was seemingly given a choice to keep her body or die and move wholly to the Wired before it switched to Alice.
I'm not sure if the alien Lain and creepy smile Lain were the same as the Lain we last saw with a gun in her hand. She says there is more than one out there.
 

Neil.T

Chuunibyou
Serial Experiments Lain
Layer 12: Landscape

"People only have substance within the memories of others. That's why there were all kinds of me's. There weren't a lot of me's: I was just inside all sorts of people; that's all."

Reminds you of Instrumentality, doesn't it?

Another little observation on the translation front from me first off, then. On my old MVM DVD of this, the hardsubs translate Lain's message to Alice at the start of the episode as "You should just rewrite bad memories." The Japanese word being used, though, is actually kiroku, meaning "records". That gives a sobering insight into the very dry outlook Lain has developed by this point: she now views people's memories as no more than stored data, putting it on the same lowly level as information stored on a hard drive or a floppy disc. (Hello, Nineties' computing.)

After that, we return to something that @WMD had brought up before. The announcer extolling the advances in data sharing that the upcoming Protocol Seven will bring encourages his unseen audience "Let's all love Lain!" like a delusional cult leader. We haven't yet learned the reason why the populace should be encouraged to do as he suggests, but Lain's former male guardian and the tall, blond agent seem to have already gotten there. Well, the latter did while he was still alive, at least.

The other shock sequence in the episode was Eiri assembling a makeshift physical body out of the ether. It's a blatant rip-off of the Tetsuo body-horror scene from Akira, even down to the thing that looks like a ballsack. 😅
 
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WMD

Death Scythe
Lain 12

I really enjoy the horror tropes this show uses. In this epsiode we get the sequence of Alice entering Lain's home and it's all pretty grim including Shining esque creepy sister! Later we get the body horror of 'God' creating a hideous body for himself! As @Neil.T says it's very Akira.

Something else I super happy to see was Lain and Alice finally having a orioer conversation. For all the talk of the wired connecting people it's in a simple spoken dialogue that Lain is able to make a real connection.

The "You should just rewrite bad memories" is a pretty bleak outlook as if ignoring problems could ever solve them. A persons trauma cant be undone so easily.

Bring on the finale!
 

HWR

CCG’s Reaper
AUKN Staff
Layer 12: Landscape

“The landscape is changing the landscape is crying”. Loving the horror and body horror elements at play here @Neil.T after your ballsack comment I couldn’t unsee it as I was watching!
 

Neil.T

Chuunibyou
Loving the horror and body horror elements at play here @Neil.T after your ballsack comment I couldn’t unsee it as I was watching!
I've never been able to unsee the bit in Akira either, if it's any consolation, dude. 😅

Eiri must've watched it a fair few times to get some tips on execution as well: he was venting streams of hot puss like a pro. 😆
 
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