A BIT of Nostalgia: Pocky and Rocky

Hello again my dear island guests!  As some of you know , I am not very much of a modern gamer, I really tend to stick close to gems of the past and in the past of this blog I have discussed a fair few of these. Recently I replayed one of these classics again. As a kid this game was bundled in a special rental promotion set with Mystical Ninja Goemon in some of my video-stores staff favourite bundles.  That game was called Pocky and Rocky.

The Priest and The Tanuki

Pocky and Rocky is an odd game, manifesting as a scrolling shooter but for once not playing space or a warzone. Instead you move to colourful landscapes and you should down a slew of varying monsters, navigate around certain traps and use tools to defend yourself.
However other than that it does still play like a typical scrolling shooter. You collect power ups to upgrade your weapon in two different ways, you fight bosses and like all space shooters this game is tricky as heck! It is commonly seen as a bit of a niche hit for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System but upon release was popular enough to spawn three sequels. One on the SNES one on the Game Boy Advance and one on the Playstation 2 and Wii.  The game was produced by Natsume and published by them as well. Upon its release it got reviewed pretty well, easily scoring an average score of about 8 out of 10. More often going higher than that then lower. This is a perfectly fine score for this game that is mostly praised for its amazing two player mode. 

I reviewed the game Single Player as I don’t have any friend who wants to come play this with me in person and the person who might play this with me lacks the patience for such a title. It should be noted that both the American version and the Japanese version are much better than the European version of the game. In Europe the Japanese version never got translated  and as a result while there are cutscenes the European version does not feature any text or story! To explain the story I will use a Let’s Play of the American version , thus characters will be titled like their American counterpart. To be fair I had a lot of fun imagining what the story would be in the European version but seeing how far I was off made me chuckle a bit. Some of the terminology used comes from the Pocky and Rocky Wiki and not from the game as even the American version never uses any terminology for weapons or anything except the enemies. 

When you are alone you can take the role of Pocky , who is a little priest girl  who fights by throwing sealing cards, called Ofuda,  at enemies and she can defend by swinging her priestess staff or Gohei. Rocky is a Raccoon Dog and instead of cards he tosses out leafs and he defends by swiping his tail. There seem to be minute differences between the characters, for example I think Pocky is faster but Rocky can dive a bit further and seems to defend more effectively. .but I honestly am not sure if I made that up in my mind or if it is actual reality. The story moves independent of what character you pick as both storywise seem to stick together. Which brings us to a bit of a problem.. this game is very VERY hard if you single player it! I really would have liked it if the lonesome player would have gotten an NPC ally to aid them.. however  because of how some challenges are designed I guess an AI could not cut it! While you can play the game  by yourself.. the easy difficulty will already provide you with a very steep challenge.

Let’s Rocky

The story of the game is wonderfully weird and very mundane at the same time!  A long time ago wicked creatures called the Nopino Goblins spread mischief across the land. Yet they were all subjected by a priest named Pocky. All seemed well until one day Pocky the Tanuki shows up telling her his fellow Nopino Goblins are out of control! The first Nopino Goblins that go out of control are these Umbrellas with a big eye and a scary mouth. As well some weird ass cyclops monks!  They are aided by guys in baskets that should at you and spooky scary skeletons!  The boss of the first level is a guy with a big brown head that shoots seeds at you!  When you defeat him.. he tells he has been mind controlled by a guy in a Black Mantle.. so that is what the villain of the game is called Black Mantle! Pocky and Rocky then venture into the water domain to fight some creatures that look like a cross between a turtle and a duck……wait a minute!  

Tanuki..Kasa Obake, Oi No Bakemono, Hitotsume-kozō and Kappa! Nopino Goblin is the English translation for the word Yokai! That is hilarious! The second stage makes you fight the cutest monkeys before eventually turning into a water stage quickly restricting your movement. Since a game over doesn’t abide by any checkpoints or subareas getting a game over means you go back to the beginning of a stage! You have unlimited continues but..Nopino Goblins can be tough sons of Yokai! The game is hilariously  translated and the dialogue feels SUPER cheesy! Especially after you finish the third stage and things seem more dire!  That stage took me SO Many attempts though! It has two pretty hard minbi bosses, and grueling gauntlets of flying enemies.  After you deal with that you dodge some  traps and shifting walls that can push you off the stage so you have to master the dodge technique here to avoid the deadly twomps like skeletons and shifting stage. It is a very good stage that has some amazing designs though and some funny Nopino Goblins!

It gets even better though , as you advance past the third stage you find out that the evil organisation is the Gorgonzola Goblins, living in the Gorgonzola Fortress and to get there you have to use a cursed airship! This is probably the hardest stage in the game, Narrow spaces, few options to dodge and lots of Yokai Pirates and turres with crazy attack patterns. It is guarded by a bird Yokai which requires you to be pretty good at your shield and dodge techniques.  Of course that pales in comparison to the skill you have to show against the second to last boss fight! Black Mantle of course works together with Dracula!  This fight. quickly turns into a bullet hell! With a twist. Entire sections of the map at time become electrified so standing still and defending will not get you anywhere.. so you will have to zoom across the arena.. while using your defensive tail swipe AND attacking the boss! All tools have to be used at the same time. The final stage is a simple climb facing some tough enemies that fire attacks that cover half the screen. Getting hit by them drains a massive amount of health as well and health power ups are very rare! With a miniboss and the big boss himself.. this one might take a few attempts. The ending is wholesome and cute and after a bit of ending dialogue Pocky and Rocky share some Dango together in the moonlight!

Sweet as a Pocky

Pocky is a sweet japanese candy..well it’s bread  with chocolate on it but the Pocky in this game is just as sweet. The presentation of this game is phenomonal! The cutscenes are super cute, the sprites are fantastic and the game has some pretty nice tunes. It really has a cute anime esthetic that also reminds me of Saturday morning cartoons for very young kids. The way the story is presented also seems very much like one of the cutests tales for kids you have ever seen. The story is very much non-violent but  there are some creepy like bosses and creepy imagery as well it is very balanced out! 

You never get bored!  Every stage feels significantly different from the others even if lots of set pieces are reused across all stages. It really works, you can see what areas lie close to one another but you also feel like you have made progress. Pocky and Rocky both look great themselves. If you play with two players you even get some team moves where one character uses the other to launch themselves forward as if they were a skateboard of sorts.. It looks buttery smooth. The frame-rate can stutter a tiny bit if there are too many enemies on screen but that is almost never an issue.

The gameplay is rather pleasant and while it is difficult as heck, it never feels really unfair.. that said it is one of those , remember the patterns ,  kinda game.. but to be fair that rings true for most of the genre and the genre itself is known for being pretty difficult.  Basically how this game works is, you make progress until you die, you find out why you die or how these enemies work and how to best get around it , you lose less health and the next time you progress further. You die again facing this new enemy  or a bit in the level and you come up with a strategy for that section again. You start the stage over again and combine your knowledge of before to get even further.. and so you get a little bit better every time you die. You really have to remember how these things work because health is fairly rare and there is no regaining life during a stage. Playing alongside a friend will make things a bit more manageable as you can remind each other how to get around an obstacle and the team moves really make you able to dash through things you can’t do alone..but that is actually a nice reward for playing with two. You really can use each other! 

The controls all work pretty nicely as well, pretty much every button is used and if you don’t like a lay out the game allows you to remap them yourself to fit your preference. For example I remapped the dodge  to something that worked a bit better for me. I gradually ended up remapping a few things, just to fit my playstyle and it worked. I really felt myself improving.. but there is a lot to improve for just one sitting.


There are a few minor gripes I have with this game and for one is there is no save feature! That is rather common and if you are familiar with the game you can beat this entire game in just under an hour.  To learn all these patterns of thought takes a lot longer. I needed several hours to gradually improve myself enough to beat this. It’s possible.. but as I grew more tired focus began to fade. At stage 4 I had to call it quits the first day. Replaying Stage 1 through 3 was a lot easier the next day but there is no real reward for playing through them well. You can’t take extra lives, at least not above your maximum and continue being unlimited even if you could.. it doesn’t really matter if you don’t start out with max lives you just learn and progress later.  Stage 4 and Stage 5 are WAAAY harder than the previous once so after progressing through stage 4 and most of 5 .. I had to call it quits on the second day! The third day playing through stage 1 till 4 felt a bit .. tedious.. It’s part of the genre but a password after stage 3 might have been nice. Even if it was just the one.

The fact that there are only two upgrades .. plus a shield is also a bit .. thin. Blue orbs improve your cards or leafs so you can throw multiple while orange orbs turn your projectiles into fireballs. While both characters have a unique main weapon the  fireball is the same, which is sad as it does more damage, but it looks way less unique! You are usually better off with the bigger range of your main weapon anyway. I just wish there were more upgrades. Upgrades decrease if you take hits so for example I can see a slower but homing attack being a nice upgrade or  perhaps a less damaging projectile but one that also blocks enemy attacks much like your swipes.  It would give us a bit more variation to play! It doesn’t really affect how fun this game is.. and it is really fun.. I just think.. it could even be more fun if you and your friend could go different weapon upgrade routes and get a bit more creative rather than just skilful!

Of course for the european version the lack of text is a BIG issue. While the dialogue is nothing to write home about, it adds a really innocent charm to the game that isn’t really there in our PAL version. While the cutscenes without dialogue are still pretty cute, the bosses in the American version usually say some fun lines as well .. a threat right before you start, which feels like some extra motivation.. since the european version apparently had to translate from the japanese version and they said nope we are not going to translate it.  Which is a shame.. it isn’t a good text.. but it is really cute!

The final gripe I have with this game is the box art! It really is quite ugly and doesn’t represent the style of the game at all. The Japanese box art looks so much cuter! The art of the game is much more reflective of that Japanese style so why make it in this weird semi-cool box art. I get it in some games where a sprite is open for interpretation but given the high quality presentation in the cutscenes, and of the sprite itself , I don’t think this is something you can pull off successfully!

The Boxart we got!
The Japanese Boxart!

Two can play THIS Game

This title is a super strong and quite overlooked one in the SNES library! Due to it’s arcade like feeling it aged very well and is very fun to play to this day. Buying a cartridge can be a costly affair with prices ranging going well above that of a full priced game, and including a case you can easily buy two full priced console games. So it does hold some collector value. I am sure however people can find a way to enjoy this game none the less. Pocky Rocky and Becky the second sequel for the Game Boy Advance has been released on several virtual consoles. If you manage to get your hands on this game however it will provide a few hours of good fun! While relatively short it takes quite a while to master and the colourful graphics and varying stages make everything a delight to replay. Even by yourself.

The real fun however starts if you play this with a buddy! More strategies unlock, extra moves are handed out and there is just that much more fun to be had with the game. Single player the game is great but you can feel it never completely reaches it’s full potential. Some enemies are extra rough to dodge because you really miss that team up move set. A choice I think is very brave and makes sense A single player has much more reason to master this while a two player game can be more casual fun. It might not be able to escape some of the classic genre tropes and the lack of a password system or a save feature prevents it from getting my highest rating but it got darn close! Pocky and Rocky is one of the better Co-op multiplayer games on the system and Nopino Goblins is an amazing english word for Yokai!

Pinkie’s Guilty Movie Pleasures: Big Trouble in Little China

It is not that uncommon to list a reputable movie when people ask you for their favorites.  People will tell you their favorite movie is Parasyte, Avatar, 1917, or maybe the Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings series. We claim Dangerous Liasons is our favorite movie while it is actually Weekend At Bernie’s .  Pinkie’s Guilty Movie Pleasures is all about celebrating those movies like Weekend At Bernie’s. In this installment I will tell you about my traditional christmas movie since 1998. Big Trouble in Little China!

I love 80’s movie posters! I wish I could be one when I grow up!

The Story about a weird tradition

Yes I said it this movie is my traditional christmas movie. Before I start with the movie a little story on how this came to be. I grew up with catholic teachings, about two years before discovering this movie I stopped believing in god already. I still believed in a supernatural force but it felt like a balance to me. In hindsight kind of like Karma or Yin Yang or something more intangible as a person guiding us. I guess that concept came from bullying or so. Regardless , I still kept up appearances and traditions for my family’s sake.

However that changed when in 1998 I was supposed to take my Holy Sacrement of Confirmation thing.My local minister banned my uncle from church from being gay, (we got warned not to invite him prematurely) and during an Easterlike dinner.. in my mother’s rentable party place he took from the Kid’s Menu. Which was very limited.. for each child they made a snack. They would make new ones.. but that would mean the children would have to move to last in line. The Minister did not take one but FOUR children’s snacks. When my mother said.. those are for the kids .. he basically said that him going first was gods will and thus he was allowed to take these. I heard this and along with the message about my uncle I was done with him.. and that church I was already just pretending to be a part of. I banned everything about it from my life.

So when it was Christmas eve my family would go to the late evening services and wanted me to come along but I refused to ever set foot in that man’s church again. I would listen to a man preach who thinks gay people are bad.. but he who takes stuff that is meant to make children happy .. was send by god and he deserves it more! Dad got very angry with me because he had to play the organ and he wanted me to see. Yet I kept refusing. I told dad that I love him and I would see him play anywhere but in church. He yelled at me a lot and made me very upset.  He went very mean spirited when Mom stood up for me. She told him that if I would stand up to the minister and god for not liking what I saw, I should stick with this. She said she would stay home with me and we did. Still sniffly and upset Mom told me if I wanted to watch a Christmas movie.. but I was not in the spirit… so we looked for the least xmassy thing that was on tv on Christmas eve… and now nearly each holy eve I watch Big Trouble in Little China. Mom would go back to church the next year, yet when the priest began to talk Shiitake about  me as well as slipping into a quite dogmatic approach to Catholicism one by one my family sided in my camp. 

This tradition is only kept up by me though!

Protagonist? Sidekick? Jack Burton!

Having such a victory in fighting for my own beliefs gave this movie a bit of a underlying town for me. I did not have to be so afraid to do my own thing. It was okay to be different. Funnily enough that is in a way what this movie is as well. What based on the poster and the styling should be a generic action flick is in fact one of the most unconventional once I have seen. Nowadays we do have more of this Meta-movie humor but back in 1986 .me and this movie share a birth year, it probably was quite unheard off. It was back in the time we would get a Cis-gender, white , straight male lead with an equally straight but usually less competent minority sidekick.  The white guy knows everything and the minority bumbles around. In the end the white man gets a girl and defeats the big bad and they all live happily ever after. John Carpenter wanted to make a movie for once where everything is not what it seems and than I don’t mean everyone could be an alien venus fly trap thing thing. (Yes double thing)

So he created this movie , allegedly not even caring if the movie would do well or not! He just wanted to make this. That passion can be seen in this movie. That love can be felt in nearly every scene. He wanted to make a movie where the hero.. isn’t actually the hero but the sidekick. He wanted to make a movie where everything goes against what you expect of action movies. Today this movie might not seem like that unconventional.. but this movie is still filled with some delightful anticlimactic moments, side stories that are glanced over and characters that get tossed aside. In the spotlight is one of my favorite action heroes of all time. Jack Burton! A  trucker of his beloved “Porkchop” Express , as American as he can be. Gambler, Seducer and tough guy! He dresses like John Mcclane, is witty like Indiana Jones and spouts one liners faster than Arnold and Sylvester. He is also JUST an american trucker. He doesn’t know how to fire guns, he doesn’t know martial arts, he hasn’t ever killed a man. He’s just a trucker that got in over his head.. and unlike most.. “in over their heads” type action heroes he doesn’t magically get good at this either. He lucks out, muscles his way out or even more oftenly doesn’t do anything to contribute to the plot. I love him!. Not in a romantic way.. even though he is a failure.. he is still way to manly.

The Good Mortal Kombat Movie

Now what is the plot of the movie? It is quite ridiculous as is the rest of this movie.. but with a main character like Jack you might have already figured that out. We see Jack win a bet against Wang Chi.. a gambler and denizen of Little China after he delivered some pigs there. Not good for his money Wang allows Jack to take him to the airport where he meets his fiancé who has his money. In the airport they meet Gracie Law.. a journalist trying to help another chinese girl in this country. During a scuffle these girls get mixed up and a street gang takes the wrong woman.  A chinese woman with green eyes. A evil chinese Spirit named Lo-Pan needs a chinese woman with green eyes to become flesh again.. if he can complete a ritual with her he becomes powerful and eternal and he can rule the earth.
Jack still wants his money though.. only to have his truck stolen by the same supernatural forces that now hold the chinese women with green eyes. So Jack has to save the world.. to get his truck back. What other way can he hook up with Gracie Law anyway? Oh and of course an ancient Chinese Sorcerer joins their side and gets them high somewhere around the midway point of the story.

I doubt that any of this is based on any form of real chinese mythology. This belief is aided by the fact that John Carpenter said he based the character of Lo-Pan on Shang Tsung of Mortal Kombat.. which you can immediately see. His three henchmen called the Three Storms are based on Raiden.. which is SO obvious it almost hurts. Jack Burton walks almost the entire movie with a shirt with the japanese flag on it and while every character is supposed to be a Taoist in this movie, there are buddhas everywhere. Sets all feel very cartoon/comic- or even videogame-ish. Which enforces the feeling like your watching a Mortal Kombat movie.. that is actually better than the other two (though one of them definitely still is a guilty pleasure of mine) . Actors perform in a cartoony way that reminded me of my beloved saturday morning action cartoons. Overacting feels intentional and during my rewatch of this movie.. I really felt like.. darn they should make this into a cartoon.  In a good way! So not like Sindels “To bad… you….r… about.. to die” line but the same goodness from one of the better Turtle Episodes or something. (The old show kids .. not the nickoledon ones) All in all. .we got a live action , Mortal Kombat Kartoon (yes thats how you spell that) 

The art of the Anti Climax

The journey that Jack makes trough this very unique experience is quite unique on it’s own. Why?  Well because Jack has a lot of things to figure out. During one gunfight for example he doesn’t do anything at all.. because he forgot guns had a safety switch.  In yet another he wants to pull a knife from his boot (which holds near infinite knives) but he drops it, while he goes to find it his sidekick mops up everyone in the room. It’s a bit like inspector Clouseau and Cato Fong but way more in your face. We constantly see Jack struggle, like when he is shocked when he kills someone for the first time… but also when he shoots his gun in the air to be intimidating and knocks himself out by the concrete that comes down from the ceiling he shot. This movie resolves most things trough an anti climax which is so much more rewarding than it sounds. We see a new monster for three seconds when it vanishes with a litteral poof. It is set up properly though as if it is about to be something big. Like those tentacles just outside the mines of Moira or even the Balrog. But poof and it’s gone. And just when you start expecting the unexpected.. the expected happens.. just to throw you off again.

It is amazing how entertaining this movie is to me despite that almost not a single action seen leads to a satisfying end. I mean.. these ends are satisfying.. but they don’t seem to be correct.. in a narrative sense. No one liner when defeating the big bad, his generals aren’t even defeated before he goes down and even than they don’t go down by Jack being a badass.  The action is engaging enough on it’s own to justify this weird flow.. and that weird flow is funny enough that you want to see more of it. I’d nearly call this the anti-action genre but it is just shy of being that zaney.. which comes in part due to 20th century fox who did not get that Jack is not supposed to be the main hero and demanded a few extra scenes where he is at least hyped up as one. This movie delivers in not delivering what we always saw up until the late 2000’s and I adore it for that. It is really unique and so zaney.

Surprisingly Real

What gets me most about this situation though is how oddly real it still feels.  I mean I know there aren’t that many evil chinese sorcerers out there that do not realise western girls have green eyes, I doubt chinese gang wars happen in little china on a daily basis and I am pretty sure there are no real Beholder like spy creatures in this world, nor exploding thunder gods.
I even doubt there would be a Trucker who likes his Cabin that much he is willing to risk his life for it, or a reporter who would be that dumb. Yet it does seem to ask some questions when telling its story. How would a real trucker react when he would get dragged into this story. Why would that reclusive character care to know about Western Girls. Why would bad guys just let you walk out if there boss is shot?

Characters usually don’t end up going for the fancy kills, character progress can reset immediately simply because they are in so much over their head. For example when Gracie escapes a trance just to get brainwashed again. She did not know what her assailant would do to  her so she made the best of her situation. Even if it made the seen more futile. There are a few of these scenes in the movie where we are shown “dead attempts”. Not everything that happens succeeds and as such it doesn’t feel like the plot is always moving forward… which again makes it much more real to me. One liners are used to announce a killing blow .. without pay off , kill shots end up being dumb luck or a reflex and even bonds that are forged over the course of this movie are broken by the end simply because of the impracticality of it all.  This is not a realistic action movie by any means, yet at the same time it takes a quite realistic approach to the people in the story, without losing that cartooniness.

I’d say the same goes a bit for the direction. The acting feels hammy .. but it feels like it needs to be as well. It’s spot on for this type of movie. Is it Kurt Russel’s best role? No.. but he IS the best Jack Burton he could be. Is the story sharply written? No.. you could tell this story much crisper and sleaker.. yet this feel like the actual tale.. that later got made greater trough stories… like the one Egg Shenn (the chinese sorcerer)  begins to tell at the very first minute of the movie. Nothing is really wrapped up to nicely..but why finish your opponent off dramatically when you can do it practically. I can’t fully explain what I experience when I see this movie.

I see a incomprehensible mess that really doesn’t do what we expect from our movies, filled with fun but “wrong” characters that seem as if they are in the wrong position.We follow the story of luigi.. that goes to help Mario save princess peach.. but luigi is the main character..so why doesn’t he get to save his princess? Also why is the red guy so more effective? It doesn’t make sense to tell the story this way.. but when you can finally see it from that perspective it makes total sense! Along with what this movie means to me by ritual.. this just makes it something I can’t help but enjoy a little bit more.. every time I see it. If you haven’t seen it yet , I think you should see it too!

Pinkie Watches Through the Grapevine: Kyousougiga

Frasier Crane told us “I am listening” which is a nice and relaxing message to hear. That someone is there to hear what is on your mind. Well since I would like you all to know I am reading.  I will most likely have seen less anime shows than most of you lovely ani-bloggers so I decided to let you inspire me! Like how other bloggers do their weekly shoutout post, I want to acknowledge you all as well. So I will watch (short)  anime series I heard from through the grapevine. Series whose name I have never heard before but someone gives an amazing review about. A while ago Irina Senpai recommandent Kyousougiga to me and that post really captured me.. I really wanted to see that show but did it live up to what Irina said?

Trough the looking Glass

Kyousougiga has 10 main episodes, but also feature an episode 0 , 5.5 and 10.5. That last episode basically is a summary of the story in which they explain what actually happened.This perfectly highlights how odd this world is. Explanation is offered for those who need it.. because they thought people might need it. Episode 5.5 explains some of the imagery, because it is based on actual Japanese temples and each window, at those temples tell a tale. That same tale is applicable in this series and tells a tale of the scenes as well. Seeing a scene with a dialogue between husband and wife (sort of )  where one is looking through the window that allows them to see into the future and the other sitting at a window that lets them only see a delusion telegraphs clues those with insider knowledge in how far apart this family already is from each other. Giving the story an even more inevitable turn. Yet at first you do not know.. you wonder what that weird conversation was about and only five episodes later , in the optional one, you suddenly begin to connect some dots.

Inuyama is such a good boy , the show explains that he is a dog!

Irina did not dare to describe the plot thinking she could not do it justice. She was completely true about that.. but to make my point on the series I shall try to explain it anyway. A black rabbit  with red eyes by the name of Koto drawn alive by the priest Myoue falls in love with the young priest and makes a wish upon a Bodhisattva to lend her a human body.
They start a family when the priest brings home a boy. Two siblings are drawn into life by the father as well. A Demoness named Yase and a super asian looking kid named Kurama. When their family gets threatened by a mysterious force the priest paints a world for his family to live in safely. A totally utopian world in which nothing stays damaged, and no one ever dies. All seems well, humans , monsters and cardboard blippy things all live in peace together. Ruled over by Lady Koto and Myoue Senior. Yet since Lady Koto only loaned her body she has to return it.. and her husband decides to go back wit her leaving their children behind to lead the world behind the looking glass.

Nothing like nice familyt walks trough the void between worlds.

This drives a wedge between the three siblings who all want their parents back for other reasons..but none of them are able to exit this new world to search for them.  For years they live in disharmony with each other.. when suddenly a girl with a huge hammer shows up. Her red eyes just like those of their parents, she even bears the name Koto and was following a black rabbit with red eyes?! Could this mysterious girl be the key to reunite the three siblings with their parents or will she drive them even further apart and destroy the family? If that plot seems weird to you already.. be prepared my island guest because we have only taken our first few steps into madness.

Those blinkies remind me of Kill la Kill

It works

Now I have very similar tastes in anime as Irina but I watch far less, she is more patient than I am and can watch a show with more focus. So I would say her recommendations have a 50% chance to land but if they land.. they really strike home. Kyousougiga struck gold for me. I absolutely love this show. So much that it is close to being a top-10’er for me. This series is the perfect chaos. In essence it’s about reconnecting with family, accepting changes and letting go of the past. It’s also about duty versus the heart. Will you do what you want to do, or will you do what you must? Neither is necessarily good. These are fairly heavy themes that mostly play inside the mind of characters. How do you translate this into an anime?

I love this style so much! Fangirling each time things go trippy

Kyousougiga decides to tell this tall trough reality shattering hammers, A Mecha Buddha called Bishamaru that is controlled with a PSP.. Uhm excuse me I mean PZP, rampaging tea sipping demons, a priest with an odd relationship with an 8 year old girl and stick figures whose coloured ball head is so heavy they all slump over. Oh and did I tell you that the giant Robot has his own TV show? Oh and the world sometimes expands when people tell they don’t need items anymore so it just floats off elsewhere. I would have never thought to tell a family drama like that.. but it works. This show has some strong things to tell about what love really is and how it should really works, It tells us something about what is a blessing to you.. could be a curse to others through rather extreme plot twists, and on the spot flipping moralities.. yet it works. This family is so twisted and out of whack and unbalanced in disfavor to the world.. yet that is what makes it work. The anime uses extremes to retell a tales as old as time in a very unique way.. yet that perfectly encapsulates what it means to be loved and what it means to be family. After all to most people, family is their entire world.

Aww don’t hurt it’s feelings! Just whack it with your hammer!

Exorbitant Sparseness

This show I would describe as a minimalistic plethora of stimuli. There isn’t a single scene where  there is “rest” during dialogue we see a world rebuilding effect.. or spinning ornate shapes. Each building has a crowd going about their daily business. Each screen is moving , changing colour or changing artstyle all the time. It’s almost as if we are watching an Escher painting. Yet there is a simplicity to it all. Civilians that have no dialogue or interesting action are depicted as brightly coloured “plastic” standee with some vectors on them as if you could “insert character here”  If they need more animation to their movement they become stick figures with heads to heavy for their bodies so they slump over.. representing people who are stuck in a rut. Except for some mafia like chronies that are as generic as Rita’s and Lord Zed’s Putties in Power rangers, we never really see people who are unimportant to the story. To be animated into this show you have to have an action or a line of dialogue. The rest is just “clutter” weirdly these plastic cut outs.. give you that exact same feeling as seeing normal faceless people walk.. but now they stand out a bit more.It’s an odd sensation where plenty of stuff is happening but rarely does an animation feel wasted.

All the beautiful people! Yes these coloured shapes are people!

The council of three room is another good example for this. While it seems filled with junk. .like spinning moons, twinkly stars and odd geometric shapes it is a perfect analogy for the family that recides in these chambers.  To the world they pretend to be a happy little family that rules in perfect harmony.. thus the room looks pretty as fudge! Yet it also feels cluttered.. there is always something happening.. something distracting. That is a match with how their actual communication goes. A lot is lost in translation.. each has their own agenda.  One of them thinks highly of himself and he is literally put on a higher pedestal. The one with the lowest self esteem gets a super tiny platform to represent him.. he also shows the least amount of effort. There are a few ways we can deal with loss.. deal with the painful memories with the past. Each sibling represents another way of dealing with it. Kurama the oldest brother.. who flies on a saké saucer by the way, tries to move on.. leave it all behind him in a cold manner. Never dealing with anything ..just moving on. Yasé the middle sister who is a size shifting demon girl that loves the colour pink.. collects monsters and loves nothing more than tea parties with her friends. (jeesz  I wonder who my favorite character is ) However Yase can not let go of the past.. she clings to it..all she wishes is for everything to go back the way it once was. Myoe Junior the youngest and most normal of the three wants to give up. His goal is to die..to relief himself of his burdens .. he just wants to quit. 

Throughout the show this stays extremely consistent. Myoue gets extremely depressed or bogged down by the little things. If he can’t get the one drink he wanted.. his second choice is disgusting. Nearly every setback we see Myoue have is met with self hate. Yase can’t deal with change, so misses her childhood plushie, she dislikes it when her world changes and her story arcs involve her losing control over the loss of a teacup that was her favorite.  Kurama is the most intelligent one and places himself above the other two… he moves on but can not see at all how his two siblings are in pain. The tree are incompatible.. so the room is shrouded in darkness.. with clutter scattered throughout. It makes no sense it’s disjointed. Yet  everything is just simple shapes.. because it does not matter what it actually is.. it’s there to pass on a message so it’s just a shape.. in a colour.. that’s enough.

A picture is worth a thousand words

The real Chousougiga is a drawing made inspired by the real priest Myoue in which we can see animals like frogs, bunnies and monkeys interact with one another. Having fun with each other. Despite being different.  They dance together and sing together and in the real Chousougiga lies a big part of the intention of Kyousougiga. Love transcends everything, it transcends species, it transcends logic, it overcomes pain it is stronger than Duty. In this weird dysfunctional family no one is the same race. Like not a member of this family shares a species with another. Yase and Kurama are both drawings but one a demon and one a buddha. No one is the same species after that. Koto is not the same race as Lady Koto, Myoe might have his father’s DNA but is not the same type of being is his father Myoe. Inari is but a rose called by another name yet non in the family share his race. Yet there is true love among all these fantastical creatures. Yase  loves her monsters, Kurama cares about his things and Myoe has love for several people who are not like him either. To depict how far this goes and how much imagery is to this show.. each sibling has more or less their own little graphic style. Myoe moves through a town with faceless people , but has very fluid animations. Kurama employs a team that does have a generic face.. but their animation is very wooden and almost stop motion like. Yase’s beloved are her monsters who are much simpler drawings with a much more childish design and art style to reflect her more childish nature.

Through all the episodes of this show I was mesmerised by the hotchpotch of style and tone. From shouting Shounen like boys to a more dramatic tone. The show manages to get away with balancing joke moments and light hearted comedy with dark scenes like suicide attempts  trough chapter cards that show between scenes. Each episode is build around one character and we balance between their past and present to explain their behaviour in the present through memories of the past. A simple transition that prepares us for a shift in tone. Because each episode is balanced between past and present .. things never become to much. The over the top present is balanced out with the more somber past, both in visuals as well as i narative.  It keeps the show digestible while also highlighting the importance of the past. Yet it also shows how the past is perceived differently by people. What Kurama sees as a great step to seeing their mother again, might be one of Yase’s saddest memories. What Myoe senior remembers as a beautiful moment, Myoe junior might see as a burden.. a curse that was place upon him. We need the big picture to understand them and the show doesn’t shy away from letting us see all the angles. I feel like I got to know all these characters, even the minor ones because everyone with a face is given attention. Everyone has a role in their world. Like the artwork the show is based on each element has its place in the story or it’s not there. 

(Yase is Childish and deludes herself with the past.. so her style reflects that)

From talks filled with exposure (plot explanation)  that show how long they last by it simply being characters walking from right to left on the screen as if a loading bar, to the way a rosary curls up like a strand of DNA to symbolise a deeper meaning of exchanging an item.. to explain what the magic really does. This anime is super well crafted, very imaginative and it had a very powerful message. It shows us the strength and extend of love.. but also the smokescreen we can put up with it. How we can delude ourselves with it or how it clashes with what is right for everyone.  It has an amazing story to tell..yet it is also one we all really know by heart.. Love conquers all..or so we think. Love is all or nothing situation we have to keep fighting for. We have to accept the feelings of others important to us because we may not always see eye to eye. Love can change over time but to keep that love alive sometimes we have to accept change. Sometimes we move further away from each other, sometimes we have to share the ones we love with people we do not like. Yet by clinging to the past .. we only end up ending loving something that is no longer there.This show paints a beautiful surreal picture, like the original Chousougiga did so many years ago. While it changed and got way more extreme over time the message is still the same.

(Such a weird little family.. but one that gave me a beatuiful show!)

Love has the ability  transcend every boundary we set for ourselves. It is something we all want and need. Yet if we do it wrong.. it can destroy us as well. I love this show in all it’s weirdness. It clearly is not for everyone, but for those who think a family themed surreal roller coaster ride that is filled to the brim with Japanese lore and Alice in Wonderland vibes sound like a sweet idea this is definatly your anime.

Kyousougiga was a blast from beginning to end and thats why I rate this anime:

So what Other anime must I watch?

I will keep checking everyone’s blogs to find out about the anime you really like . Finding a common ground or discussion point always makes for great conversation, so if you want me to talk about a show you think I will like! Write a comment, tweet me a bloglink or write me! Love is best when it’s shared!

Love you all