*My comics readin’ stack is getting bigger and scarier, so I’ll have to start cutting into that tomorrow. I’ve got pre-release reviews, minicomics reviews, manga reviews, Ron Regé Jr. reviews, reviews I said I was going to do back in this year’s first financial quarter… what I need is an extra body or two.

*Oh, speaking of Ron Regé Jr., Yeast Hoist #12 is now available from the Buenaventura Press store, and the first batch of copies they sell will be signed by the author. Just to follow up on my earlier mentions.

*I did, however, manage to watch an enduring classic of '80s anime recently, 1983's theatrical feature Harmagedon. Because it's not enough to be just an armageddon, there has to be harm (with one 'd' taken away in trade, I guess) - note that the Japanese title was the less flashy Genma Taisen (roughly, The Great War with Genma). All titles aside, this a magical film, folks. Let me list just a few of the great reasons why.

- The movie opens with a mighty asteroid flying through space, surrounded by blasts of purple lightning. In space. Down on Earth, a mysterious old woman becomes really agitated by this news and does a crazy dance throughout the streets while the titles proceed, much like Rosie Perez in Do the Right Thing, though instead of New York it's Tokyo, and instead of hearing the revolutionary beats of Public Enemy we'll eventually be treated to the soothing synth tones of Keith Emerson, who composed the main theme. Anyway, we then meet Princess Luna of Transylvania, who has apparently brought a crystal ball onboard an aircraft as her carry-on. The crystal warns of danger, much to the agitation of her fellow passengers (it's worst than a wailing baby, I'm sure), though it's pretty much proven right when the aforementioned asteroid slams right into the jet, sending Luna soaring through the air, otherwise unharmed. She's then plucked up into the sky, go-go boots and all, by a column of light, whereupon she's introduced to a cosmic entity that tells here that a great evil called Genma is on its way to devour the Earth. Then she's made a warrior because she's psychic, and must fight with the power of love. Then she sees a great battle in space, in which a powerful cyborg loses his cyborg sweetheart in combat. Then she jumps back down to the ruins of the plane and finds that the cyborg is stuck in the asteroid, so the uses The Power of Love to break him out. He looks an awful lot like the King of All Cosmos from Katamari Damacy.

- None of these people are the main characters in the film.

- This was just the first fifteen minutes.

- No, the real main character is Jo, a moody young student who spends his time wandering around the pachinko parlors and porno theaters of the city. I think he's angsty because he really really wants to have sex with his older sister, but more on that later. As many of you might have guessed, he develops psychic powers and uses them to lift girls skirts and make people fall over and stuff, but then the King of All Cosmos and Princess Luna of Transylvania (see how awesome this is?) track him down and time stops as all the world turns black & white and they're the only onces that can move.

- That's a nice visual flourish, and there's a lot of them in here. The film is directed by 'Rintaro' (real name: Shigeyuki Hayashi), already a seasoned anime visual stylist, and he's assisted by a young(ish) manga artist by the name of Katsuhiro Otomo, who serves as character designer. Otomo would later become a director himself, making films like Akira and Steamboy - he'd reteam with Rintaro for the 2001 feature Metropolis, though Otomo would then be serving as screenwriter. Needless to say, everything looks really nice, with all the thin lines of crackling neon that I demand from anime in the '80s.

- The plot is another matter, however. Harmagedon did have a manga behind it, though the manga was actually based on a series of prose novels, and I have no idea where exactly the movie draws its material from. Wherever it's coming from, too much is being taken - the film bears all the hallmarks of trying to cram in way too much material into too small a space, as if all the 'highlights' need to be hit for the fans lest they revolt in the theater. If anyone's seen the Fist of the North Star anime feature, you know exactly what I mean. Oddly enough, Otomo's own later Akira would do a rather nice job of heavily compressing his lengthy manga into a tiny little theatrical box. Maybe he took notes on what not to do?

- I mean, at one point, Princess Luna shows up with a totally different hair style with absolutely no explanation. It's not very easy to do something like that by mistake in an animated feature (at least no so it's then consistent for the rest of the film), so clearly the fans of the books (manga?) must have known what was going on off-screen.

- Characters also come and go at will. You see, one of the plots of the film is that Princess Luna is assembling all of the world's psychics to combat Genma with The Power of Love, so we eventually get something akin to Captain Planet's Planeteers, only everyone's wearing the 'heart' ring. And they can all break things with their minds. But only three of them or so get to appear on screen with Jo at any one time, with seemingly important characters just vanishing for long stretches.

- Never mind the character development. What's obviously major personality moments in the source material get glossed over here to somewhat comedic effect. For example, faced with the prospect of a black kid joining the team, Luna suddenly reveals herself to be very racist! In that she kind of says, 'wait, I just recalled that I am racist!' But then the King of All Cosmos says 'gosh, I shall never be on a team with a racist!' and then she's all 'ok then' and that's seriously the end of the subplot.

- But oh, the magical parts of the film totally make up for such little things! Like the young fellow I just mentioned - he's introduced as part of the most roaringly stereotypical 'scene set in the US made by people who have apparently only heard of the US through movies and news reports' moments I can recall. You see, New York has been slammed by Genma-related natural disasters, so the city's in ruins. Our young psychic is leading a gang of (all-minority) looters throughout the city. While robbing a store, they're confronted by an army of (all-white) police officers who then bust out automatic weapons and shoot them all to death on sight with no warning. This is because the US is filled with guns and racial strife, in case you missed the memo. Anyway, the lead cop turns out to be one of Genma's two henchmen, and he encases the young psychic is a ball of fire that increases in power through the force of the young boy's hate. Then it rolls around the city until Our Heroes stop it. Then the kid pretty much vanishes for the rest of the film.

- Oh yeah, Genma only has two henchmen, I guess. What a lousy destroyer of universes. Is the overhead too high or something?

- Anyway, the real focus is on Jo, and his mental state, and how Genma's henchmen get to kill all the girls in his life to make him mad or 'get at him' or something. Jo has a girlfriend who isn't psychic, and whom he isn't pining for, and she isn't always looking up to the sky with sparkly eyes and pining for love, so you know her ticket is punched right off the bat. Jo also has a male friend, who doesn't die until later. All of these people are possessed by Genma's henchmen, which you'd think would be used for the purposes of subterfuge or something, but they're very bad at it.

- Jo's sister also dies, though not until later, since she's both the main love interest and a psychic, which kind of delays the inevitable. Yeah, the movie has a really weird incest theme running, though actually Jo's sister is a good deal older than him and raised him since he was a boy, so there's mommy issues mixed in there as well. Early on, Jo's girlfriend grouses that she can't compete with his sister. Later, soon after Jo first discovers his powers, he takes his sister out for a night on the town, hitting the amusement park and climaxing in a very ecstatic flight throught the air, flying being a classic Freudian symbol for sex. Jo's sister even mutters something about how she'll never forget ths night, which seals the deal. So anyway, she gets killed too.

- Lots of pretty visuals, though. Oh yeah.

- Also, there's a homage to Bambi.

- No, really. In the middle of the epic apocalyptic sci-fi/psychic struggle for the fate of humanity, Jo witnesses a poor little deer watch its mommy get killed in the danger surrounding Genma's arrival. So Jo takes pity on it, and then leads an entire fucking parade of fuzzy forest critters up a mountain to safety. I'm sure happy music is playing.

- But soon the film again redeems itself. Genma takes the form of a kindly old man dressed in early an 20th century gentlemen's get-up - he looks kind of like Turner D. Century, actually, which is much more awesome then looking like Galactus. Also, he's seen walking on a river of magma without messing his fancy slacks.

- Then Jo and some other character (who can keep up?) are turned to stone, but the rest of them shows up and forms a giant heart around them with their power, and (wait for it!) The Power of Love wins again.

- So then Genma turns into a dragon, and everyone fights. The whole battle is awesome enough as it is, but it's made even better by the sweet tones of 1983 electronic music. Also, all of the sound effects appear to be inspired by period video games. And Genma lets looks Godzilla roars. Oh god, I can't even continue.

- Except for this: when evil is defeated, a happy song plays and everyone floats away into the sky as the credits roll and peace prevails, or something. Yay for peace!

So in conclusion, Harmagedon is a delicious classic of world cels, and I've once again let a post go on way longer than I'd anticipated.