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A few words from the creator:

This is an MV I made as a teenager in the late 90s, back when digital clips had to be scavenged in bits and pieces across the internet, and quality was often dubious and reduced even further by the crappy video editing software and compression options freely available.

I found this AMV, made by an editor going by the handle miriya99, totally by accident today. I have nothing constructive to say about the clips themselves (lyrics aren’t the most suitable for this footage but the editor admits that), but wow… another Broadcast AMV! So far I’ve only seen one, and this one predates it by at least 6 or 7 years, basically being one of those rare pre-Internet (as we all know it today, at least) AMVs that are, quite literally, from another age that most of today’s anime fans have only heard rumors of.

This looks pretty bad by our standards today but back then it must have been a real treat for anyone who had a chance to get their hands on it. A relic of some of the last days of the fandom of scarcity, for sure.

I worked on this for a long time (starting back when I was just starting to edit and didn’t have a clue what I was doing) and it was pretty useful in helping me understand how to use 4:3 and 16:9 footage together in one video. But in the end, the problem with this is that it’s (ostensibly) a comedy video that just isn’t that funny. There were lots of opportunities for me to use more clips that might have improved the video overall (to the point where I actually made a credits sequence just to squeeze more in, which I later scrapped) but the song was too short to use any more than I already had. Oh well. At the end of the day I got a M.O.T.O. AMV onto Youtube, and that’s all that matters.

I’m not familiar with the original Gate Keepers series, other than watching a few clips on Youtube. Apparently it was aired in 2000, but to my eyes looks quite a bit older, possibly even being a deliberate throwback towards 80s anime. Watching the opening to its sequel, I was instantly hooked, and after being informed that I needn’t see the original first before watching the six-episode OVA that followed it up in 2003, I bought it on the cheap at Half.com. I don’t impulsively buy DVDs like this very often, nor do I watch very many OVA titles. This is definitely a break for me from the regular rotation of new/current anime that I’ve been watching so far this year.

My initial impression of this series is that it’s going to be a “dark” take on the shoujo heroine genre, which I’m not going to pretend to have anything more than a superficial understanding of. The central protagonist, Ayane Isuzu, is an expert killer of “Invaders” (zombie-like humanoids dressed like the “strangers” from Dark City and able to materialize en masse like a hundred Agent Smiths from The Matrix), dispatching them using powerful energy fields generated by cell phones. She carries out her duties with ease and in an elegant fashion but seems to take little pleasure in the heat of battle or even in victory against her foes I’d say that her lack of traditional charisma would make her an unlikely central character, but it’s just as likely that her detached demeanor has drawn her more fans than if she were a bright and cheerful girl like we’d expect.

In a meeting with her boss, a thus-far unnamed man who wears sunglasses and doesn’t leave his car, he reminds her that “it’s been over 30 years since our society was taken over by Invaders. Their numbers are increasing. We no longer have time to spare.” He advises her on recruiting a promising new gate keeper from her high school, a student named Miu Manaduru whose gate-power enables her to fly (or at least jump to extraordinarily great heights, it’s sort of unclear). It isn’t long before the stoic Ayane approaches the social, cheerful Miu, making for an awkward partnership in their fight against Invaders. While it appears that they have a long way to go in developing any sense of true teamwork, their powers complement each other effectively, even if their personalities don’t.

The animation in this episode has held up really well, and while this wasn’t a groundbreaking debut episode or anything, I think that it could hold its own against most action series today. I don’t know if it’s just because she reminds me of Ogiue from Genshiken, but I really like Ayane, even if she’s doing very little to make herself particularly likable or even intriguing so far. Being a quiet and impatient person myself (that probably rubs people the wrong way from time to time), maybe I just identify with her, or at least her preference to get tiresome tasks done without any fuss and with as few words as necessary. I’m rather certain that she’ll eventually drop this shell as more is revealed about her, why she fights the invaders and where her powers came from (not to mention certain details about her family, briefly alluded to during a battle scene). No cliffhanger here, but I’m left definitely interested to see where this series goes from here.

(This post is taken from an extra credit assignment I turned in for a sociology class this spring. Figure I might as well milk it for a little more use here. I expect it to be ignored or dismissed as “crazed feminism” or moral handwringing. But hey, I felt like posting something today and this is the best I could do. Come back some other time for more anime ‘n stuff.)

The cover for Lady Gaga’s Born This Way is a typical example of how women in advertising — or in many other forms of media — are not simply objectified, but are commonly portrayed as actual objects, as explained by media critic Jean Kilbourne in her documentary series Killing Us Softly. Here the artist, who’s well known for appearing in outlandish and provocative costumes both in concerts and in photoshoots, is transformed into an actual motorcycle. The image is bizarre, attention-grabbing, and unmistakably Gaga. The meaning or intention behind it is rather vague, and for listeners encountering the artist’s image for the first time, it will certainly leave a lasting impression. What troubles me is the disconnect regarding Lady Gaga’s empowering lyrics (to say nothing of her work for GLBT kids), which often concern ideas of identity and self-respect, and the disempowering nature of the album cover image, which is totally absurd on the surface but has enough potential to affect some of her younger listeners. I’m somewhat ambivalent about this conclusion; why is it allowable for David Bowie (surely an inspiration for Gaga and her ever-shifting public image) to portray himself as a dog and not okay for Gaga to show herself as a motorcycle? Is this a (sexist?) double standard? By the end of 2011, Born This Way had sold over 8 million copies worldwide.

The debut album from Nicki Minaj, Pink Friday, introduced the world to the Trinidad-born star, whose verbal prowess quickly established her as one of — if not the — premier female MCs in the world. Judging by her songs, music videos, and willingness to take risks that few rappers would dare — her verse on Kanye West’s “Monster” was likely the most memorable of 2010 — she is more concerned with breaking conventions than establishing herself as anything resembling what we know as a traditional pop star. The cover of her debut album depicts her as an impossibly leggy doll, legs splayed open and arms missing. It’s at once an extremely sexually provocative image and one that’s reminiscent of childhood, the realism of the image blending the two themes into a rather disconcerting portrait of disempowered and submissive femininity, the polar opposite of the persona she embodies on her aggressive verbal delivery in her music. Gaga’s bizarre cover is simply surreal compared to the rather explicit impression that this image stands to make on young girls who might encounter it, delivering an impossible message about body image to an audience more receptive to it than any other. Again, I’m willing to admit that I’m possibly missing the point concerning this cover. For years pop stars have used album covers to portray themselves as flawless beings existing in an airbrushed hyperreality. For years, female artists were forced to present themselves and define their public personas according to a very limited set of choices. Only in recent years have artists like Lady Gaga, Nicki Minaj, and others (Pink, Robyn, M.I.A., etc.) taken steps to subvert and skewer these traditional notions of “sexiness” or “perfection” in the media, often with a healthy sense of humor and self-deprecation,* and by doing so it could be argued that images such as these may be less damaging to the impressionable minds of children and tweens (primarily girls, although boys are not immune from the effects of such images) than traditional “beauty” that falsely appears within the realm of the obtainable. Pink Friday has sold over 2 million copies in the US, and over 300,000 in the UK.

Sorry For Party Rocking, the second album from electropop stars LMFAO, has sold nearly a million copies in the US since it was released over one year ago. The album’s most popular song, “Party Rock Anthem,” was first immortalized in the “dancing hamsters” Kia commercial, and went on to be one of the biggest hits of 2011, spending six weeks at number one. Sorry For Party Rocking features both band members pressing their faces against the stomach of a (presumably topless) young woman, who’s cropped (decapitated?) above the shoulders. Her body is objectified, treated as an easel for the album’s title. Much like the songs within, the album cover could be construed as completely ironic or silly fun not meant to be taken seriously, but I do have to wonder how old most of the listeners who bought or received it were, and what effect the cover image might have on their attitudes toward women or (for girls) themselves.

*I’m assuming that Lady Gaga and Nicki Minaj had a hand in producing said covers, and that their image is not controlled from men on high (as I suspect it likely is in the case of, say, Britney Spears) but by their own visions.