Living In The Moment by Piet Hein

To live in the moment’s a well-worn routine

that most of the world has perfected;

for some, it’s the moment that’s already been,

for others, the one that’s expected.

 

Yet no sort of magic can kindle anew

a past that is over forever,

nor summon the future before it is due:

our moment is now – or it’s never.

 

So brief is the moment in which we may live,

and future or past it isn’t.

Whoever would know of what life hast to give

must gratefully welcome the present.

 

by Piet Hein (1905-1996), Denmark

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Eko Eko Azarak 2: Birth of the Wizard (1996)

A prequel to ‘Wizard of Darkness’, covered yesterday, telling us how Misa Kuroi, Magical Occult Girl of Apathy, became the milquetoast badass we know and… look upon her with indifference as everyone else is cooler.

In today’s film instead of wandering around a school of occult enthuisiasts repeatedly saying ‘I’m a witch’, in the same way Yosser Hughes from ‘Boys from the Black Stuff’ walked around trying to get a job or Groot said ‘I am Groot’, is instead today is a damsel in distress being dragged around a town by her carer as zombified people (but only one pursues them at a time so maybe it’s a demon possessing people’s corpses) slowly follow after them. It’s classic low budget ‘within the speed limit’ hi-octane action with a shot of Diazepam just in case it blows your mind!

So we begin with little Misa being put through an occult ceremony to indoctrinate her into the lifestyle. Her carer is a pretty boy with make up on. There are lots of baritone voices and hooded robes and because of the first film you might suspect these are all teenage girls they make sure to show the old men’s faces. Misa is scared because this is ‘bad satanic’ occult magic and she is all about that good ‘dark protection’ magic involving occult pentagrams of protection. Or maybe the old men just scare her as they’re probably going commando under those robes. We never find out…

Years pass and the pretty boy now looks older. Those with their genre savvy Spidey-sense tingling already know he is going to die at some point in a melodramatic sacrificial way. Maybe to protect Misa, maybe as part of an occult ceremony which motivates her… you;ll just have to keep reading to find out.

There is a fat, bald guy stalking them pretending he is a robotic zombie. He isn’t a pretty boy so obviously he must be evil according to movie logic. Actually he is just a random guy possessed and made to chase Misa and the carer silently. Or is he? Dun Dun Durr…

At some point a police captain gets possessed and shoots his subordinates in a small police hut office as the carer and Misa pass through.

‘Taicho-sama, I’ve looked up to you ever since I was a boy! Ever since I played with my friends on the street and saw you patrolling. Taicho-sama! I remember your smile as you watched us play in the park. Taicho-sama! Taicho-sama it’s because of you I wanted to be a police officer! Taicho-sama! Taicho-sama! I lov-“

Bang.

Bang, bang, bang… Bang.

Bang.

Character development. Just like the teenage girls from the first film.We never see any consequences of this ever again. It’s comical in a way and reminded me of the following skit.

Then we have a long flash back of exposition. Misa (Kimika Yoshino) is the messiah of the occult, intended as a sacrifice or something like that. Who knows? Who cares? It’s a chase film like Terminator. The flashback gets overly whimsical as if this is meant to be a different genre of movie. Actually this might have been when the starting bit was and we only saw a glimpse at the start. It makes no difference – it’s all in the past now.

Fight.

Fat man go boom.

End of the fake out antagonist… or is it? Dun dun durr…

Now a pig-tail haired girl, who was one of Misa’s friends during the time when she was hiding out in the open by going to a normal high school… under her real name… because apparently they underestimated the thing trying to kill them, is the new stalker acting like a zombie robot. The drama has suddenly intensified! Will Misa have the strength of character to kill her friend? Oh no pigtails-chan we hardly had time to care for you before you went evil! And because you are ‘cute’ we as the audience must feel this is far worse a tagedy that an overweight, middle aged, adult being possessed and blown up unceremoniously. We will never forget how you used to giggle with your friends and… um… uh… let me think a second… hmm… okay… yup…umm.. yeah, that’s it I guess… “Character development”.

Misa starts reading some mystical script and the room shakes. Cool ‘old guy’ carer, because anyone over 25 is immediately deemed old and over the hill according to Japanese drama, tells her not to do that. Stern face… Stern pout to camera to make the housewives’ knees tremble. She has her locket from the first film. They keep showing it. Oh good is she going to be saved by another ex-machina? Her guardian loses faith. ‘No Sempai don’t lose faith’! They kiss. Well that was kind of awkward. He is definitely a dead man walking now according to movie logic. He tells her he loved her mother. Okay now that is really awkward…

This is no ‘long running TV soap opera’ drama that’s run out of original storylines and needs to get a ratings boost! Wee need less emotion, more action! Cue random battle in the long grass!

(Cue Pokemon battle music)

  • Carer-kun uses ‘Crush Grip’.
  • It’s successful! Carer-kun tears off Stalker-chan’s arm!
  • Stalker-chan uses ‘Bounce’ and does so around the room while also using ‘Flail’!
  • It has little effect…
  • Carer-kun uses the move ‘Cut’!
  • Carer-Kun cuts Stalker-chan in half!
  • It’s super effective!
  • Stalker-chan is defeated!
  • Carer-kun gains some EXP!

(Cue Pokemon battle victory music).

But shock revelation! He is now vunerable to the robot stalker spirit possession having used the last of his strength for a needlessly dramatic kamikaze attack to defeat Stalker-chan! Oh what dramatic irony! the over protective ally is now the unstoppable purser of Misa who so far has done nothing by herself! We definitely didn’t see that coming…

No not at all…

Honestly…

None of us has ever seen that similar sort of bait and switch in a film ever…

Definitely, off the top of you’re head, you could name three films that pull that trope…

Within a minute Misa runs into the circular lecture theatre with a pentagram drawn on the floor and corpses strewn everywhere. She is trapped.

… why is there a lecture theatre with a pentagram already drawn on the floor? Don’t ask questions. It’ll only lead to more…

Suddenly, without precedent, Stalker Carer-Kun pulls a sword out of his forehead. No he didn’t get stabbed in the head by Misa – that would have our protagonist actually actively doing something and that is ridiculous – nor did he ever allude to this technique. No he just pulls a big old sword out of his third eye chakra. Out of the blue…

But don’t worry! Because Misa does the power speak like she’s Gandalf in the Lord of the Rings (but obviously based on the books or the Ralph Bakshi animated film as this movie was made back in teh 90s long before the Peter Jackson series…) making the world around her shudder!

Boom he is down for the count!

The end…

…Oh but wait what is this? PLOT TWIST! A space flea out of nowhere? I think it might be!

A girl in an occult robe and using a man’s voice (which is obviously a fetish of this film series) appears!

She summons a very nice looking dragon – ghost – demon – thing…

…Which instantly kills her.

Um… okay… yeah… The big bad of the film, who I never saw before, just got wasted within a minute of being introduced. Bye, bye Prototype Cult-chan at least you died a little less ridiculously than your chronological successor.

Misa walks away from the scene. Goes to the apartment she had been living in while in hiding and sees all her friends corpses. She says a Wiccan chant and we are straight into the credits with an inappropriate pop song playing.

The end.


fuoVSap

Review

Compare what the cover of the manga looks like and what the film looks like. This series had clear budget constraints. Again I watched it without subtitles so maybe Prototype Cult-chan was mentioned, or was one of Misa’s close freinds (again) but really these films have been far better just soaking it in without wasting time on needless context. Again a low budget film where most of it went on the, admittedly astonishingly good for the era, CGI of the summoned creature at the end. A bit of a change from the first film but again Misa, our ‘cool badass protagonist’, does nothing. In the 90s Japan really had a thing for these kind of ‘heroes’ who are in situations where they rely on everyone around them to be the active participants. Just look at Shinji Ikari from Neon Genesis Evangelion or the main couple from Battle Royale. It lets the side characters develop more but these are not ensemble films so instead you just have a blank character being processed from one scene to the next while all the more interesting potential is, quite literally in some cases, sacrificed along the way.

It’s a silly film. Watch at double speed and enjoy the silliness because even by the TV budget standards of Japan back then this seems to have been done on a shoe-string budget.


 

There is a third film but I didn’t bother to watch it. I hope you enjoyed this irreverent review.

For some reason the spacing of the first first paragraphs refused to space properly despite toying with it.

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