Eko Eko Azarak: Wizard of Darkness (1995)

Occult girl Misa Kuroi goes to a new high school to prevent the summoning of the devil by a mysterious cult. She makes no effort to hide she is a witch. Everyone in the school loves the occult thus she becomes very popular despite the fact her only line in the entire film could be ‘I am a witch’ in the manner of Groot from Guardians of the Galaxy and nothing of her characterisation would be lost…

She is what would be later considered a Mary Sue. Really she has no personality but as usual this is explained as her being ‘tacit’ or ‘stoic’ or some other excuse for ‘blank slate of acharacter the audience can project themselves onto. She is just used as a familiar ‘attractive’ face to connect a series of individual stories that wouldn’t be able to stand on their own in the minds of those the writer answers to.
Really the truth is they’ve just hired someone for her looks who cannot act a.k.a. Kamika Yoshino a gravure idol (i.e. lots of videos and photoshoots of her posing in her bra and knickers). The logic the aundience must accept: She is pretty therefore she is the good guy. End of discussion… Always… In every film, book or story that has mass appeal because that what the punters want.
In the manga apparently she has a cloak, sword and a funky looking pentagram belt. Sadly that’s a bit too exciting for this film and would have driven the budget up by another 1000 yen (£6.40/$8.91) almost doubling the budget!

Eko Eko Azarak 19

All the students in this school, who already know way too much about the occult, have figured out the mystery before Misa’s arrival! The series of recent murders (the last of which opens this film in a lazy rehash of the priest’s death from ‘The Omen’) are all at georgraphical sites which, when connected, form a giant pentagram meant to summon the devil and that their high school is the nexus!

With these sort of deduction skills maybe we don’t need the Scooby gang, let alone ‘Occult Girl Misa: Magical Soldier of Indifference’, to come to the rescue…

The skinny boy/tool of the devil is apparently handsome, in that androgynous way the Japanese have loved ever since the Heian era, and due to this seems excused for being overly aggressive and shouting at the female characters constantly. This is something I often see in films – as long as a guy is handsome it is acceptable for him to treat women like dirt and not be judged for it. Although he is not the protagonist I often see this behaviour in Japanese films set in high schools.

The girls in this film seem to just let themselves be killed under the pretence of ‘oh but he’s so handsome and I have a crush on him. He would never do something like this!’ Cue the girl tripping over her own feet and being stabbed or bludgeoned to death. In fairness he was possessed but nonetheless you would think common sense, even in horror films, would suggest they run away from him. They, of course, don’t run nor do they fight back to defend themselves and thus all are posthumously given Darwin awards.

The lesbian teacher and the student she is grooming are pointless side characters used for fan service. They serve as examples of social deviants and, yes, both die. However not before the teacher is revealed as a cult member (shocking don’t you agree! Adults in teen focused dramas are not trustworthy!) and the groomed student is sacrificed to the devil.

My favourite moment of theirs is when the class are doing a test and the teacher takes the student outside for some frisky time. I watched this thinking ‘everyone would notice that and in reality would have been gossiping about the pair long before they became this blatant about it’. When will the girl do the test? Perhaps hitting sensei’s G-spot gets you an A grade?

Kuroi’s new best friend (Miho Kanno) walks up to her saying ‘wow you’re so cool’ at the start and hangs around her most of the film to basically tell anyone unfamiliar with the manga (i.e. basically all foreigners but also people with a life in Japan) that this is the heroine of the story and she is so fantastic and so stoic that it makes everyone fall in love with her instantly for being so undeniably cool. This goes on for most of the film with her playing the sidekick role overreacting to everything.

Guess what? She is the big bad villain of the piece. This wasn’t a surprise really as, by this point in the film, everyone else in the school was dead. What I found hilarious during the film is that all the cult members, when hooded, have deep baritone masculine voiceovers but as soon as the hoods are lowered it’s young women with those high pitch voices that Japanese apparently find ‘cute’. I guess the male voices were to hide the revelation that the cult was comprised of women? Hilarious nonetheless in how inane it was when revealed.

So we reach the denouement. The possessed boy is dead – how I can’t remember but considering how the murders were done via ‘no handsome-kun you’re too handsome to be evil! Then the victim girl falls over squealing before being killed by him (also squealing in her death throws) and he then wanders off, covered in blood, to find the next girl to kill’ I really couldn’t care less how he came to his end.

Teenage cult leader-chan has revealed herself and has finalised the ceremony to summon the devil. Misa can do nothing to stop it and is unceremoniously turned to ash. Yes the hero who didn’t very little just got killed. But this is based on a Japanese shonen manga so there will be some insane way she comes back.

Cult-chan summons the devil. The CGI, for the time, is admittedly really impressive as the devil looms over the school… and then Cult-chan face gets her face ripped off immediately and her innards fly up into the sky. Why? She couldn’t contain the power? The devil decided ‘nope don’t like look of your face’ and ‘tore up’ the contract via her flesh? Who knows… who cares? The devil disappears unceremoniously bringing and end to proceedings.

Disaster is avoided without the protagonist actively doing anything. If she hadn’t turned up it would have ended up exactly the same way. Misa gets resurrected by some hair she kept in the locket she wears. It was been featured earlier in the film but considering what a deus ex-machina it was I omitted mentioning it before so you could get a sense of how out of leftfield this comes.

Misa melodramatically cries over the loss of her new best friend/devil summoning Cult-chan who was the only person who could understand her. Music plays and the next thing we see is Misa walking off to the next school to solve the next occult incident at a new school…

Misa your so cool in that ‘I just happened to be there and survive despite everything going on’ way. Men want her, women want to be her…


 

Review: 90s Japanese film fodder starring a Gravure Idol. It’s hilarious in how bad it is. Give it a watch just to see how low budget it is. The effects for the devil were admittedly the stand out bit where most of the budget must have gone.

Did I watch this without subtitles? Damn right! Did I miss any subtleties? Well probably the cookie cutter character archetypes and some details that would be forgotten ten minutes later but this is as generic as it gets so no, no, I didn’t. If anything it improved the experience – especially when I made it move at double the speed.

I had known of this film’s existance for two decades and never got around to watching it. It was amusing but low budget, as many Japanese films tend to be as they are more of a ‘television series’ watching kind of nation. Go in expecting little of the film and you will enjoy. Go in expecting something with the budget of an American film and you will be sorely disappointed. Just remember this was based on an old manga which inevitably was popular during the 1970s occult fad Japan had during that decade and everything will be okay.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eko_Eko_Azarak:_Wizard_of_Darkness

 

Oh and some fun news if you want more of Misa’s adventures but updated: There was a recent TV series and at least a few of the early episodes are available on YouTube if you decide to look them up.


 

Not what you were expecting? Well it was hopefully fun to read this more irreverent kind of review…

Comment, like or follow – all welcome.

Disney’s Frozen: My Sister, My Hero Collectable Stickers

Produced by Panini in Italy.

Cost £0.50 i.e. 50 pence per pack. I purchased them from a Tesco supermarket but they are available in most major retailers and there is a special offer where you get a few packs with the sticker album for £3.00 if I remember correctly.

5 stickers per normal packet or possibly 4 normal stickers plus a ‘special’ sticker per packet (I only bought one packet so I cannot confirm the ratio). To be honest I remember when you would get about 10 stickers in a pack but that was a very long time ago. The lower number however means you get far better quality stickers. I was very pleasantly surprised to be honest. I prefer quality over quantity as a few high quality stickers, even if not of images I would want, are always far more welcome than a dozen poor quality ones produced with company profit margins being first and foremost in mind.

DSC_0012aaaa

These stickers, though not suitable for applying on anything that will be outdoors and require weather resistance, like a vinyl sticker would, look quite robust compared to what I have seen in the past. The print quality is excellent and even at extremely close inspection you will not notice any attempt to skimp on the quality here. The ‘special’ sticker has a fabric like texture to it and some light applications of glitter which I found to be a nice change from ‘special’ stickers being prismatic, which often make it difficult to look at the design, or basic foil ones where the print is all too easily scratched off if you are careless. I am sure the glitter would quickly disappear but again the quality of the base sticker is high enough I think with fair treatment, such as putting on the front of a note book or to decorate furniture, these stickers would fare quite well. A very high quality product.

DSC_0002 (2)

As you might notice the packet I got was not primarily English language so that explains where they have made savings by just producing the one multi-lingual packaging. I doubt anyone collecting the stickers gives a damn about the packaging though it does features some nice artwork on the front in my opinion.

DSC_0013

The artwork is by Brittney Lee, a visual development artist at Walt Disney Animation Studios (she worked on Frozen and Wreck-It Ralph). Barbara Jean Hicks, a storyboard artist on the film Frozen. She illustrated the book ‘Disney’s Frozen: A Sister More Like Me’ (written by Barbara Jean Hicks) and I think the images on the stickers, at least the ones I got except the ‘special’ one, are all lifted directly from the book’s illustrations. I don’t know if I just had luck and got some of the nicest stickers as there are over 100 stickers for the album and I cannot imagine the illustrations in the book are that many.

I think these are a nice little treat for a child who has behaved well on a day around the shops without having to break the bank to reward them. They are definitely much higher quality than the ones I remember collecting as a child. Although personally I won’t be buying anymore I think these are a really nice treat for kids although I also remember as a child you are forever chasing the stickers you don’t have so ultimately buy a child one pack but don’t let them pick up sticker collecting as a hobby. It is one of the most ephemiral of hobbies and the subject matter often fades into history with no worth allocated to the sitckers which today seems all so important in completing the collection of. But a very nice once-in-a-blue-moon treat while Frozen is still the zeitgeist that it is. On a side note I am sure the correct phrasing is ‘My Sister, My Heroine’ althoguh they probably wanted to avoid people for some reason thinking the feminine form of the word hero (Heroine) is the exact same thing as the word for crack cocaine (Heroin)…

For those interested here are the stickers featured above are:

009: The troll performs magic on young Anna

010: Young Elsa

100: Fearful Coronation Elsa

102: Elsa portrait

F19: Special sticker fabric textured sticker with glitter of Elsa  turning to the viewer surrounded by pink flower like snowflakes


I haven’t been in a position to post anything recently. Hopefully I will be able to review a few more things soon.