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Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Mighty Mouse: Wolf! Wolf!

Title card

Cartoons back in the old days were something else. It seems classic cartoon artists were unafraid to show their imaginations in unprecedented ways while laws about the "ethereal" necessity to restrain oneself out of fear to offend faint-headed people were practically nonexistent. The net result almost always ended being a cartoon which inevitably provided a cool experience for both viewer and artist. Again, this in itself is enough to earn my appreciation.

Mighty Mouse is a cartoon about a tiny superhero whom is, incredibly enough, a mouse. This one is NOT just another filthy rodent scuttling along furniture and threatening humans' health with its feared fleas' bite or its nasty territory-marking practice which is a hotbed for leptospirosis. No, this is one mouse intent on doing good without causing any harm whatsoever as a side effect.

Now onwards to the cartoon. We open with the narrator setting the stage for the action to unfold, which happens from the antagonists' point of view. They eye up a couple of delicious-looking lambs and soon hatch a plan to get hold of them. At first they get one of them to dress up as a female of some species. Presumably, a female of the human species, but this proves unconvincing even to the target of their lustful obsession. He/she eventually gives up trying to lure the sheepish offspring where they want and settles up on the bright idea of outright trying to grab it, at first landing face-first onto the floor in a kind of pouncing attack, then it just chases after it. The lamb's lithe disposition to not be caught proves to be much for the frustrated hunter. So much so he calls for backup on the little bugger and soon classic cartoon pandemonium ensues. It's not until several wolfish hands bearing all sort of weapons surround the disputed lamb that the latter decides to let itself be subdued.

Wolves are found primarily in Canada, Alaska, the Balkans and The Netherrealm.
This is NOT a 2011 version of the cartoon.
Then the picture's title entity makes his entrance. Perhaps Mighty Mouse had been watching over things all along form his perch, but we'll never know. He swoops down on the evil creatures to wreak more cartoony havoc: wolves pummel themselves nonstop in typical Killer Instinct style trying to hit Mighty Mouse, several meat cleavers are hurled in Mighty Mouse's way and he repels them with lightning bolts issuing from his hands and one of the goons wields a automatic claw-12 shotgun in an attempt to rid the world of the minuscule hero, to no avail. Eventually, Mighty Mouse cleans house and has again proven to be the champion of men... and sheep.

Watch this episode here:

Thursday, 26 December 2013

Ninth episode

Plenty of things take place on this episode, some of them are triggered for very contrasting reasons. Kaiji is ushered into the other room, soon joining a heap of forlorn souls. He finds a place ate the front beside a mysterious man. He learns from him that betraying and backstabbing are a norm not only in their contextual situation, but in the outside world as well.
At least he had the decency to humble up in shame.

None of this was his fault. He was just doing his best.
Stay back, I'm warding you off!
Andou did all this math at the top of his head. He can pursue an awesome careers with such a skill

Being surrounded by anxious bidders may make a destitute bloke feel chuffed.
As a result of so little trust existing among people, it's a truth universally acknowledged that people only bond for something they have to gain. In other words, there is no true will to extend oneself to help others, this just isn't practical for anyone on this day and age. Instead, people approach others if their banding together will bring a desirable gain in return, be it for both or just one party (this being the case, it's always the party initiating the move to clinch the deal).
Kaiji, you're a helpless nice guy for going so soft on him
Swivelling power kick level 3!
Kaiji listened on to all this with a backward glance at another man close to them. It was Ishida, another who ran out of star pendants and wound up in the same pit as Kaiji. But Kaiji is still doubtful that they will be saved, until the hall master, Tonegawa, announces that those still in the main foyer can use their spare stars to sell them to whomever the heck they want. Furuhata queries about the possibility of pulling Kaiji out of his pit. Being answered in the positive, he is about to wave one of the black suits to get Kaiji out for 3 of their stars.
But something occurred to cause Andou, the unhelpful ally, to change his mind and parry Furuhata's expected action. In a double botch-up, his newest acquaintance, Ishida, is also backstabbed as his former partner leaves him for dead and retires upstairs.

Meanwhile, Andou haggles over the spoils of a joint alliance with Furuhata about leaving kaiji behind as well and taking the money for their spare stars to cancel their debts
. Throwing in the fact that they were coaxed to borrow money at the beginning of the contest which  compounded every ten minutes, their current situation is little better than their initial one, before deciding to take part in this madness. They would still be in the red after making their getaway from the fateful vessel. The only true way out is for them to cut Kaiji off and start with a clean slate without having to pay him back. All of this might sound disturbing, but this concept is not so far-fetched from our stark reality. At last, Furuhata agrees, despite clearly not being a natural-born swindler. Kaiji takes it out on the shadowy figure lurking beside him behind the encasing rampart after he figured out
It may not look it, but fighting it out naked is pretty manly.
his target had not only money on him, but also a pair of expensive-looking rings, worth enough to buy his way out of there.
Those greed-driven twats are still thinking of snagging a quick profit at a time like this
As Kaiji issues, he confronts the fine examples of mankind that are his former team mates and takes his due share of the money back. In an act of clouded judgement, he squanders off all of the cash on t he spot by freeing Ishida.
Contests sponsored by the well-to-do become social upheaval pockets.
Everyone is gobsmacked, there was no reason to spend money releasing a broke middle-aged man! Furuhata and Andou, stripped of their dignity, shy away when Kaiji proceeds to have an utter breakdown. He strikes at things yelling how much civilised society sucks and that life is unfair for those destitute of material wealth, that all that is left for poverty-stricken people is to crawl out their pitiful existence in an attempt to survive in a world in which they won't ever have a say. It's a poignant ending to this nine-episode sage,  which furbishes the viewers with all the essentials of a truly fantastical series, aeons beyond any moderately successful show.
Sure you were amused by the tirade, but what about their well-being?

Maybe it's just that the man behind Kaiji, Nobuyuki Fukumoto, who knows how to pique our interest without departing from the mundane and common place. We can tell for certain that it works for me.

Another of this anime's undeniable truths

Wednesday, 25 December 2013

Eighth episode

Andou's descent into greedy madness. Understandably, Kaiji is none too pleased with this grotesque change.

The eighth episode is so packed full of memorable moments that it becomes an exercise in futility trying to
describe them through a review drawn up by a simple mortal person. 

So you're talking back at me?
How to tame people with itchy fingers.
Andou backstabs the group for a second time.
Somehow, I can commiserate deeply with anyone bounding around for joy
With a heart full of the hatred which drove Kaiji's decision to step up and let everyone know that he was in possession of a buttload of cards, Kaiji exposes Funai's true intentions. That is, after Funai publicly dressed down a man nicknamed "four eyes" for listening to Kaiji's request to play. Turns out Funai had rigged the whole reshuffling act and was biding his time to gather even more stars. First he put a mark on scissors cards before handing them back to their rightful owner. Of course, he just gave scissors to people who had one card left, so Funai had booked himself a string of guaranteed wins. All he had to do is collect the spoils of his cunning sleight of hand. Lucky for the honest folks (if there was any) that Kaiji was quick enough to realise his rival's bamboozling move and point out to everyone that the reshuffling was a ruse for Funai to use up his remaining rocks by picking off opponents with one card left: invariably,a scissors card. Funai is unable to play anyone now out of distrust, so Kaiji demands they play one final death match with 5 stars at stake. Both Kaiji and Funai know who is to win since Funai had one rock remaining and Kaiji has all of the other cards which are still playable. Funai is reluctant to play (who wouldn't) and recalls that there is someone hiding somewhere, with three scissors cards, according to the scoreboard. He even wrenches out one of his own star pendant and offer to give it away if this certain someone was to show up and fight his remaining cards off with Funai. However, Kaiji is not in the least afraid of raining down on a despicable foe's parade and assures him that his attempts will bear no fruit as there was an earlier incident in which one of the black suits warned everyone of someone who tried to flush his remaining cards down a toilet. Since they weren't doffed the usual way, they didn't get tallied on the scoreboard's system.

The scene of this picture is both haunting and heart wrenching
Proper disposal of personal attire
A very few moments more and Funai slowly ambles forth to take on Kaiji's challenge. Turns out Kaiji made up his mind about being sent off to the dreaded other room for having an even number of cards. His group will hold an odd number of cards after they play Funai, so they can't finish their remaining cards off by playing themselves. Kaiji, as usual, offers to be sacrificed for the sake of his "friends". Yet, he places an astoundingly simple quest on their whiny shoulders before heading off to the gloomy compartment: they are supposed to use three star pendants to free him (they have 10 now). Simple as it seems, something happens to render the ties of true friendship asunder...

Kaiji seventh episode

Funai deftly dodges Kaiji's swivelling point blank  strike?!
We are approaching Kaiji's final standoff. The trio of struggling commoners is running out of options to
This quote has stayed with me for years.
acquire the remaining necessary star pendants to finish their ordeal and start over and Funai, the second main culprit for Kaiji's despondency is calling the shots now by drawing everyone's attention to himself with a decided speech. This he addresses to the candidates still on the main deck, those whose fate is hinging upon their will to fight, to risk being sent to the other room confined to a life of everlasting hard labour.
Funai, at long last, earns others' distrust after all his "suspicious antics"
Unforgiving zawa zawas.

That's it. They're afraid because the stakes are overwhelmingly cruel now. With few people left, they're unable to make the decisive move and challenge. They're not sure whether they'd rather wait for the contest to come to an end and bet their remaining hope on the supposedly easier star buyout, or risk losing it all by challenging an equally desperate opponent. They've become mobilised in a crippling way that is not for anyone involved, including Funai. So much so that he makes a life-saving proposal to all: re-shuffling their cards and starting over! Needless to say, this does not bode well with Kaiji, because doing so will reveal to all that Kaiji and his two comrades are holding the bulk of the cards. At any rate, Kaiji buys into Funai's scheme and pleads to take part in it. It was soon explained that they will reshuffle their cards and have them handed back according to the number
Kaiji discloses Funai's ruse. Notice Andou's look of justice meted out.
of cards that each had prior to the set-up. Funai casts Kaiji's deck into the air and stands up to finish his business. Kaiji is unable to settle up with him because he has to pick his cards, and quickly, before they finish it off among themselves and leave Kaiji and his comrades stranded aground on the rocks of life.

Angry men.

Blued-out scenes build up dramatic effects.
Kaiji eyes up potential prey items.
Furuhata sure does a good job at looking all fretted out

Kaiji sixth episode

Who can down high-flying Kaiji? No-one, it seems. But with that little thing called time looming over them all, they need to make haste and collect the necessary number of stars to make their getaway from the vessel cruising the waters of hell.

Reminds me of my times playing Super Mario Bros. 3 at that card stage.

The narrator's voice acquires a poignant tone at this point
Funai is a natural-born chieftain
Soulless people might want to take a swipe at Kaiji too.
In the final throes of the troubling night, Funai happily sallies by before Kaiji, before casually taking a seat beside him as though nothing had happened. The very man responsible for Kaiji's despondency is right alongside him and he does nothing! I thought had been fuming at Funai's going back on his word. But Kaiji does lash out at him as expected. Funai repeats the same behaviour as in their first encounter: he spews  more clues to Kaiji about the current state of affairs on the ship. He tells Kaiji to heed to his knowledge of the scarce number of cards remaining on the floor, before waving a cocked finger to a static set of downcast people at the other side of the hall. They are those who had quit earlier than expected, and won't play any longer. Rather, they are just waiting until time's up and then they'll try to buy stars from those who have spares. This means the number of potential contenders are all the more reduced. This crippling side of reality plays on Kaiji's mind and Funai tries to cash in on it by urging him to trade some of his cards for an extra star pendant. The scene is kind of hilarious for this gloomy context. Funai attempts to kindly talk Kaiji into accepting the deal by waving a star in front of him as Kaiji puckers his face in an effort to keep his self control! He grinds his teeth and shuts his eyelids furiously while Funai sings the praises of stuffing the star into his pocket and ditching his wimpy teammates. All this is too much for Kaiji and he abruptly shoves Funai off, knocking him butt-first on the floor and scattering his stars. Funai gets to his feet and fitfully picks up his precious stars, all the while telling Kaiji what a bitch of a man he is and that he will never win in life due to his soft attitude regarding loyalty and faithfulness to remaining part of a team.

In quick succession Kaiji assembles the other two members and entrusts them with all the money he had on him. From what I could tell, he fears falling prey to some temptation suggesting he should leave his friends stranded. Both parties agree that Kaiji should not be left with monetary resources so Andou and Furuhata pocket the damning bills without further ado. Kaiji is still the appointed leader, but now he can't afford to make decisions on his own without consulting with the other members.

What Kaiji just did couldn't be described as something short of noble. He had just got away from disaster by the skin of his teeth and now his neverending faith in his homies compells him to leave them with the remainder of his funds. Since the only way to succeed is for them to work and act as a team, it might be reasonable for Kaiji to treat possesssions not as his own, but as belonging to the whole group. As long as this leads to victory, it's fine. But I'd have mighty reservations about placing valuables in other people's trust, let alone if I hadly knew them.
The black suit's all seeing eye didn't catch anyone cheating, so it never happened.