Sunday, August 13, 2017
Life Goes On: Liveman 6-10
Episodes 6 & 7
People hate these episodes, almost as much as 31. I don't understand why, though. I think they're sad, and they're the first episodes to play further into the life theme. The Liveman are confronting a situation they initially think is pretty strange, and they approach it kind of matter-of-factly -- this dinosaur that's been brought to the present either needs to go back or be killed, because it doesn't belong, it's dangerous. But by the lonely kid befriending the dinosaur, taking it as his pet, seeing the dinosaur save the kid, seeing the dinosaur manipulated against its will and killed by Volt, they appreciate the creature's existence, that its life mattered.
For me, the one real problem is the dinosaur's design. It's just generic, it looks like it's left over from another production, it's shoddily made. You can see its tennis shoes! But, suspend disbelief and the episode works, IMO. With episodes like this, I just look at them like animal episodes. I'm an animal lover, so looking at the dinosaur that way, when it starts to cry as the boy points a rifle at it...it's sad.
Takuji and Mari's ghosts linger over this episode -- almost literally. Any episode that deals with them, Academia or the three former friends are good Liveman episodes, IMO. When Kemp makes a Brain Beast that feeds off of anger -- making the Liveman, still very pissed at their homicidal ex-buddy Kemp -- our three heroes need to discover sources of fighting motivation other than anger or hatred. They're each inspired by a mother defending her baby, a kid standing up to thugs bullying an elderly man and fighting on the behalf of Takuji and Mari and their unrealized dreams. Just a nice, thoughtful script by Kunio Fujii, his first for the series.
One great scene: when the Liveman are zen, having no rage to fuel the Brain Beast, that pisses off Kemp so much that HE makes good eatin' and the Brain Beast turns on him.
I think this is one of the episodes that cause people to trash Mazenda. Again, I don't understand why. Keeping in mind how egotistical the Volt members are, I like that there's an episode like this, one where Mazenda's plan is just for her own amusement and not some of the typical take-over-the-world plots. Like I said, I feel like a lot of Volt's goals are just as much about fucking with humanity for their own amusement, and to prove their perceived brilliance, as their plans are about wiping them out/taking over. Here, Mazenda just wants to use a serum to mind control men. That the serum requires her to steal most of Japan's gasoline is just an unfortunate side-effect. The only error in her plan was in brainwashing the boyfriend of Megumi's friend, drawing the Liveman's attention.
This is the first episode written by Toshiki Inoue. He writes Yuusuke and Jou as kinda dickish here, and then employs one of his favorite scenarios: heroes gone bad! Mazenda manages to brainwash Yuusuke and Jou, and it's kind of shocking how they rough up Megumi. But they still seem dickier before the brainwash in this ep -- and after the brainwash, too. Because it's also shocking how rough they are beating up Mazenda.
I think this episode kind of exists because someone was like "Hey! The Yellow one is seen skateboarding in the credits. Where's the skateboarding? Write that in!" Because it's just weird. OK, we have Kemp causing mayhem by turning a section of the city into a maze, but the main story is about Jou deciding to be a pizza delivery boy because he likes a girl. And not just any pizza delivery boy, but the world's first pizza delivery by skateboard boy, which he thinks will be an asset to the girl's pizza place. (Jou wasn't in the bottom of the class at Academia for nothin'.) Good luck having a hot pizza in under thirty minutes with that delivery method, suckers. Yeah, so Jou caused his crush's business to close and she probably ended up committing Hare Krishna while her punk kid brother turned to the yakuza. Yooooooooooooooooooo, Jou!
The episode is the first in many Jou-falls-for-a-character-of-the-week episodes, which people like to poke fun at. I figure it's just meant to be light and fun, it's not terrible. Jet Skateboard's fun, but barely ever gets used. The guy who plays the pizza shop owner's young punk brother is Yoshifumi Egawa, who's actually a big name skateboarder in Japan, so that's kind of a cool detail. Liveman doesn't have the money to get many guest stars, so don't get used to it.