1542 – Bye Bye Jupiter aka Sayonara Jupiter (1984)

spacetime coordinates: year 2125, Earth’s population has swollen to 15 billion with a further 5 billion outer space settlers spread throughout the solar system, including Mars and satellites of Jupiter.

Director: Koji Hashimoto & Sakyo Komatsu

Year: 1984

Minoru Sakyo Komatsu (小松 左京) is one of Japan’s trio of famous Japanese sci-fi greats together with Shin’ichi Hoshi and Yasutaka Tsutsui. Komatsu’s involvement with the 1970 Japan World Exhibition in Osaka makes him intimately linked to what came to be known as the ‘Japanese wonder’, the signature architecture and ideas of an era brimming with the optimism of bubble economy 80s, probably the most prosperous and carefree period in Japan’s modern history.

At the same time he is also linked to some of the most enduring traumas of Japanese sci-fi, the birth of a specific 70s disaster cinema(including Virus: The Day of Destruction), following the long tail of atomic bomb afterglow into cold war apocalypticism and what came to be seen as Akira hubris. Komatsu was a key player of the 1970s return to catastrophic imaginings of the future (in parallel with contemporary 1971 oil crisis, Watergate, the end of international golden standard, end of the wars of ‘national liberation’ and traditional communism etc). His best-seller, translated into many languages (including German) was Japan Sinks (1973) where Geotrauma is unleashed as a series of volcanic eruptions, rescue plans and earthquakes that brake up, inundate and transform the entire island nation into refugeesmmigrating to Korea, China, Soviet Union and the US. Japan Sinks brings the archipelago in touch with a tectonic plate ‘structures of feelings’ that questions all certitudes and difficulties of planing ahead of a major catastrophe. It was filmed as Tidal Wave in 1973 and in our own catastrophic-pandemic 2020 there is a new anime adaptation advertised by Netflix Japan in collaboration with Science Saru studios.

Sayonara Jupiter I could trace only in its German dubbed version, a delightful 80s artefact on its own. Based on the 1983 book by Sakyo Komatsu, Sayonara Jupiter offers a unique extra planetary outlook, probably only comparable to the recent Chinese Taikonautic blockbuster The Wandering Earth, based on Liu Cixin’s book. In its scope and enormity of its consequences it makes painfully clear that there is a mismatch with a Western imagination that largely gave up on regarding space as the ultimate destiny of humanity. Even former space race dreams pale when compared with these daring feats of planetary geoengineering.

Prometheic terraforming gets introduces early on – humanity being involved in almost pre- Dyson Sphere programs, of a Kardashev scale dimension (‘JS – Jupiter Solarization’) disclosing a galactic pupose that in turn necessitates the introduction of an alien encounter as well as wacky nemesis: a future extraterrestrial eco- terrorist cult. IMHO this vision is matched only by celebrated 1972 Douglas Trumbull debut Silent Running of biospheric drift & robotic gardening. Its technological sublime knows no borders and so expect lots of wonderful TOHO studios mecha props, gigantic spaceship models, upside down moving extras in space stations, all with no improbability checkups and with grandiose futuristic shamelessness. It is really hard to classify this as simple foolish overreach, humanistic futurism or as dabbling with important questions regarding both planet- destroying & preserving/sustaining potential of future technology.

Now to get to the showdown of the movie: Chief Engineer Eiji Honda onboard Jupiter-orbiting Minerva Station as head of the JS Jupiter Solarization project team is confronted by a international group of protesters(later to be radicalized as terrorists) led from afar by a musician-guru cult leader. All live in a high surveillance Hawaii surf paradise where space hippies gave rise to the ‘Jupiter Church’. To quench the thirst for energy (resource poor Japan was always keenly aware of the energy crisis), space colonies government aims to overcome the costliness of nuclear fusion via a Big Science project that aims to transform Jupiter into a second sun that could power-up remote cosmic neighborhoods and outer planet suburbias. As if this feat was not sufficiently brash (in the eyes of the Jupiter Church), a newly discovered black hole is headed straight for the Earth, so that the solarization project gets retooled as a nova- project.

The only viable solution to Earth’s imminent destruction is a detonation powerful enough to swerve the black hole in a non lethal direction. Jupiter is slated for sacrifice, not before the chief Engineer and Space Linguist Millicent “Millie” Willem discover a 120 km long alien derelict ‘Jupiter Ghost’ spaceship hidden and emitting a (whale-like) signal they cannot decode. The imagery of this hidden spaceship is truly amazing considering the fact that it is all pre-CGI. This ancient paleo-astronautic spaceship relic has been lying in hiding since hundreds of thousands of years, camouflaged in the turbulent atmosphere of the gas giant and is probably responsible for the Nazca like drawings terraformers have discovered on Mars (as well as presumably for those on Earth).

Due to a change of directorial vision and other mishaps, Sayonara Jupiter can feel like an utterly dull movie experience in spite of such a grandiose inter planetary setting. This should not stop us from immersing into welcome ludicrousness and cosmist bathos mixed with erotica. There is this incredible terraforming imagery of Mars at the very beginning, the directed catastrophe-level geoeningeering that is cheered right from the very start – the one action that uncovers the 100.000 yr old Nazca drawings.

There is the space new age sex scene of the Eiji the Chief Engineer and Maria the Jupiter Church cultist infiltrator and terrorist that conspires to blow up the Minerva Station in order to save gassy Jupiter from destruction. Naked planetary floating bodies almost as bold as all the mixed couple book sex magic posters u can think off.

Luscious space yoga sci-fi cover art unleashed upon an unsuspecting audience with humans as the besotted species finally evolving into anti gravitational exo-planetary conservationist sex beings!

For those with an interest in that eras High Weirdness potential – Sayonara Jupiter offers bold glimpses of a shadow underbelly to the optimistic and prosperous Japanese miracle. There is something very specific to this Jupiter Church cult – something in tune with the bloom of doom subculture in the Japanese 80s when lots of ultra modern middle class women and men, including well adjusted media/TV celebs join esoterica leaning groups, a time when Aum Shinrikyo doomsday cult expanded and gained pop creds. Blind Chizuo Matsumoto became Shoko Asahara in 1987. It is a time when such Unabomber anarko-primitive clash and get enamored with the techno-scientist elite. Back to back with Reaganite US Star Wars program, Sayonara Jupiter is itself part of a neo-catastrophist revival of Immanuel Velikovsky theories that start resonating with a new prophetic ardor in a key shockumentary of that era: the 1982 Jupiter Menace narrated by George Kennedy (which I wrote at lenght in a previous post), featuring its own specific blend of US pop paranoia, fringe culture conspirituality and incipient prepper and survivalist drift into the disaster imagination of a planetary- astral eschaton.

1524 – Man on The Rim (series, 1988)

I have been able to trace 3 episodes which I added to a YT playlist

1989 Book

Full DVD with 11 episodes

It has been very hard to trace this series of documentaries, I really have not managed to find them anywhere. They are some of the fondest memories I have from childhood/adolescence TV, exactly at the cusp of 1988/1989 turmoil, screened by Soviet Perestroika era stations in Russian that we were able to tune into in the South of Romania. It had been a sort of revelation. It was the start of bush tucker documentaries, even a time of replicating bullroarers or spear throwers (atlatl) tools that I found fascinating as a kid in tow with Rahan bande desinee comics we had access to. Tools & technologies dating to upper Paleolithic had a special magic in the midst of the computer revolution. It is now speculated that the Mungo woman, child and man remains – the oldest paleo anthropological remains in Australia suffered from an atlatl elbow & that first migrants from Asia brought the bullroarer with them into the Americas. The 40.000+ yr lake Mungo remains are now protected by Aborigine custodians and also represent one of the oldest cremations we know of. This sort of hunter gather skills & reconstructions I guess is what we would call today paleo lifestyle or neo- anarko primitive ways. Alan Thorne was a non-indigenous archeologist from Australia that has made this incredible 11 episode series around his thesis of human settlements of the Pacific and regional continuity. However old or quaint from our perspective, this series promoted a long view of pre-European contact history, of continuous living across the whole Pacific. I find it very important in the case of aborigines & other native populations that have suffered so much and are still fighting against extractive industries and their first comer right to be there on their ancestral tribal grounds. Man (and woman) on the rim is almost a thesis of Pacific humanity, Homo maritimus of sorts spawning a myriad cultures developing not at a continental core but the largest water body on the planet – the Pacific Rim and the thousands of Islands that surround and dot it from one end to the other. More recently we’re being able to test another intriguing hypothesis – that the shellfish rich seas around South Africa’s coastaline have been the first examples of modern humans living off the sea as well a distinct stepping stone during a harsh period in our species history. Remains at Mossel bay in S Africa from 164.000-35.000 yr ago are proof of surving the so-called bottleneck of the Glacial Stage 6, revealed first by genetic evidence. Everybody now alive is descended from a small group of modern humans (maybe a few hundred), maybe even one ethnolinguistic group that spread outward afterwards & mingled with smaller bands it met along the way. It made it against all odds thanks to the mild paleoclimate & plenty of shellfish/geophyte energy rich bulbs of the fynbos – coastal refugia abounding along those coasts. This S African coastal region, growing & retreating with the sea level offers some of the the first proof regarding invisible cognitive enhancements to go with the anatomical modernity – such as lunar calendars to be able to follow ebb/flow, microlithic technologies, heat treated red ochre since at least 110.000 years ago and a special aesthetic value of seashells washed from the bottom of the sea to the shore. The tracking of shifting shoreline, the retreating or advancing oceanic waters during cooling & warming periods and a widening continental shelf speaks about the affordance of livingcclose to the ocean.

Man on the Rim offers an incredible vision of island jumping, of nautic travelers and nautic cultures, of boat makers, of boat people living most of their lives on the water. For me it was and is one of the most incredible and eye opening documentaries out there. Coming out of a period of isolation in Romania, a country that was politically closed down for much of the 80s, as well as the difficulty of having the means to travel right after 1989, you traveled on-board such documentaries. And what an occasion! Most of the time civilization (canonical version of history), settlement, human development, evolution has been always described as rising around big rivers, around big inland seas, or along fertile crescents. Here you can see the huge number of estuaries, coasts, rich mangrove swamps giving rise to new ways of life. Understanding the waters and living with countless fisherman tribes, villages and hunter-gatherer traditions fostered a wide array of boat designs – which are probably the most top notch sophisticated and accomplished pieces of design humanity has produces. These thalassocratic societies are explored in this documentary series. I guess the documentary also expresses a new confidence of the Asia Pacific economic Sphere, the Chinese coastal Special Economic Zones, cities like Singapore, HK or Shanghai on the rise or peninsular or insular powers South Korea and Japan being part of it. Australia was hoping to get more out of this regional hub, recognizing its role as more closely connected to Indonesia or China than say its remote British Atlantic progenitor. This account of regional prehistory is key to a larger role to be played by Asia-Pacific confluence, and Man on The Rim is coalescing around larger 80s- 90s economic, cultural & environmental coastal trends.

First episode introduces the first ever water Wallacea migrations and maritime existence, and also the first insular early relatives of humanity from a skullcap, tooth and tigh bone fossil of Java man(Homo erectus erectus)- the oldest hominid at the time discovered by Eugène Dubois at Trinil on the banks of Solo river in 1891-1892. In the meantime we also have the telling, more complex and enlightening case of the Homo florensis a small archaic distant relative, result from a possible very early migration & island effect plus a bounty of new human fossils found both in Indonesia (Sangiran dated to almost 1.7 mil yr) and China (discovered in these last 30 years). It is an incomplete and quaint documentary, some things have not aged well, still I think the circumpacific vision should stay with us – and it’s thesis is intriguing. I will always remember the bamboo rafts that have been considered as some of the first potential designs and transport from Southern China, Taiwan and SE Asia into the incredible diversity of island universes that lay in wait towards Australia during the last glaciations, where the waters retreated, land bridges opened and cross-overs became shorter with the next shore in reach. They kept tracking the changing shore with each new Glacial period or in between. We have to remember there were no maps, no actual image of what was out there, just the experience of previous shores and previous ways of being on the water. It is also an important documentary to establish migration and waves of migration like the numerous continuous waves of the oceans as important and fundamental part of humanities existence on this planet, in spite of all the borders, the walls and all the current national ethnostate-politics. The bamboo is almost the basis for a bamboo civilization across Asia Pacific region. The earliest evidence of humans in Australia are btw ~50.000 to ~65.000 yr ago, and are final proof of maritime cross over, since there was always a 80 – 100km sea gap in Late Pleistocene between Australia & New Guinea forming the Sahul continent and the other islands of the Wallacea, Timor and Southern Malukku that needed to be crossed. The subsequent Austronesian and Polynesian wave of migrations is a marvel of history.

Second episode recounts the incredible 40.000-50.000 yr continuous old history of the peopling of the island continent of Australia, a complete biogeographic isolate in a sense for millions of years, with its own very specific and variegated flora and fauna, including some of the most bizarre (from our mammalian boring perspective) beings to roam on this earth, with lots of ancient living fossils (some like the Wollemi pine being discovered quite recently). The Aborigines, those who have suffered the full impact of the white man’s exploitation, genocide and colonization are the first ancient waves of migration that came from Asia (and many waves since), that still keep alive traditions of mangrove life, a life that made possible the exploration of the whole Pacific in the end, of living off the land and of feeling at home along this extended Rim of salt water biomes, a familiar environment that stretched on every coast, every atoll and that offers, shellfish, mussels, fish, and plenty of other things to the ones in the know. The mangrove living, the cooking on the beach, in the ashes or embers or in the sand are still to be found here in the northern islands of Australia. The newcomers from Australasia spread out into the inner of the continent, into various and other very different inland ecosystems, diverging & remotely related to the initial coastal fisherman newcomers, finding during the next thousands of years a home from the billabong to savanna to the jungle in the north or the mountains in thr east.

Third episode features the Pacific NW, one of the most linguistically and culturally diverse & rich areas in the whole of the Americas. It also dwells into the ancient North American cultures such as the ancestral Puebloans/Anasazi or the Mound builder cultures of the indigenous pre-Columbian populations. I will focus on the native tribes of the NW living on the Pacific coasts for countless years, enjoying fishing & hunting while this coastal route of migration is one of the oldest. From the Aleutian islands in the north when the Beringia was a bridge btw continents, some of the first humans made their way, arriving from Asia trough an ice free corridor along the coasts & in between the mountains. Salmon runs, shells middens, plenty of mussles, Eulacheon fish grease trails, kelp forests, dense gigantic redwood temperate rainforests, humidity & continuous rain a year long, rivers rich with fish flowing from the Cascade mountains to the Pacific made these coasts, inlets and islands one densest inhabited areas in the world for non agricultural populations. Many had developed highly hierarchical societies, sophisticated designs, carvings & huge ocean going canoes, elaborate songs and famous totem poles. They were united by lavish and opulent feasts of excess and gift giving ceremonies called Potlatch – specific for the whole region, that have been studied at length by antropologist and that have become banned by government and subsequently reintroduced.

1523 – Chulyen, histoire de Corbeau de Cerise Lopez et Agnès Patron (2016)

A fantastic 2016 animation about a demiurge that does not fit with our images of the supreme being or the kreator. It is plays the trickster being role in many cultures, especially from the circumpafic (the Pacific Rim cultures), in the North from Siberia to the North Californian Native peoples. It’s also found in the Bible as the first being to fly from the ark. There’s also Huginn and Muninn devine data gathers in Scandinavian sagas. Since childhood I was enthralled by his escapist abilities, his shapeshifting ways, his dirty creationist energies and by his cunning, his unpredictable, greedy and curious nature.

Chulyen is the Dena’ina Athabascan word for RAVEN

I especially remember(cannot remember where I read it?!) one such creation story of the Pacific NW. The raven eats some especially juicy red berries that cause him to have a mid-air diarrhea, out of this he feels sick for eatint too much, and mid air he starts a shitting session. That shit thrown from heaven onto earth is the first matter that gives rise to the first crawly creepy humans, that ones opening their eyes they understand and see the difficulties of the raven creator and understand his shitting himself mid-air and they laugh, and then the raven laughs in return, looking down, amazed at his creation, ridiculing the creatures that have sprung unwittingly from his uncontrollable urge for excretion. What an incredible Genesis of humanity! What a mind-blowing scatological myth of creation, one that does not stand easy with our usual more serious cosmic written creation stories.

This French animation captures it all in a sense, as well as the weirdo, troubling, the unsettling and cannibalistic aspects of cosmogony.

Some raven resources for you curious birds out there:

Native First Nation Raven Stories

Conspiracy of Ravens

1522 – Rabid (2019)

Rabid is a remake by the Soska (Jen SoskaSylvia Soska) sisters of the Cronenberg 1977 cult classic. It is rare to say that you can watch a remake without having seen the original, but this even works on its own I think. In this sense it is a re-imagining not a remake. From all the recent art horror remakes, especially 2018 Suspiria, I like this one the best.

Also from all the recent glam fashion horror that stick out as pure exercises in style which is perfectly ok, such as Neon Demon or the self-reflexive art world satires such as Velvet Buzzaw, I prefer this one. It is somehow in tow with Raw, Black Swan or Starry Eyes, or even Brian de Palma’s Passion.

When I say it is not a just rehash on the older Cronenberg – although choke-full or references, I do not especially care if it is a faithful homage or not, in fact it should be as unfaithful as a skin graft to its donor. Rabid 2019 is a new chapter in the exploitation of abortive new flesh, artificial lab grown tissues and liveliness of unwanted grafts. Fashioning oneself and fashioning others via proteins as well as wardrobes links to a larger pursuit of bodily success on par with financial one, good looks, malade beauty and catwalk Schadenfreude. The secretive reclusive 70s Keloid Clinic for Plastic Surgery shifts into a new big money Transhumanist enterprise with more defined Immortalist creepy ideals & skin graft wet dream. It not just catwalk horror, it is full with inserts, cameos, even TV sitcom moments, combined a lot of goofy gore, a lot of splattershtick that would make Sam Raimi proud, dismemberment, trembling foaming bodies, it’s a mess, and this I like. Even if over the top, I like the Burroughs-Frankenstein moments and direct quote, the fact that he seems to loom large over the power and control issues of the present.

Like in the high bureau corporate melodrama Passion, it plays on the highly pressurized and pasteurized, the toxic competitive job environments that capitalism is so good at fostering, all prone to back-stabbings, cancellations and public humiliations, everything that the Internet pundits and social platform critics abhor, the propensity to use exposure, shaming, revenge porn, character assassination, sextortion, dank humor, every vulnerabiliy transubstiantiated into some sort of easy satisfaction, gain or trade for LULZ. What is not apparent in the techno panic version is exactly how this plays out for the silent or the subaltern. When it’s not the boss making a point, they permit a cheeky contestation, pointing skilfully the faults of another in public, the reading, shade in queer or afro- code switching and the schadenfreude joy this brings, hacking of the very codes of competition allows such dissing of the powerful. Ultimately rabid bodies are eminently white, with greedy clinics catering for such clientele.

The Soska sisters really brought this new cosmetic ideal to Rabid, in a lusty, Mask of the Red Death-like over the top full of gory humor way. This has an overlay with contagion from pre Covid 19 era that blends into now, that I consider particularly helpful in the context of the epidemic as spectacle, as hype and fashion trend not just as scare.

This was already there in Cronenberg and his interest in the stylishness of disease, the aesthetic and erotic appeal of bruises, laboratory chic, cool steel instrumentalism, clinics as new health temples and the surgical design being the new embalming of the dead alive rich etc but here they all contribute and prepare for the catwalk of disease. The wellness clinic is a ramp, and when it does so, it not only pampers the celebs and the rich, but infects everything around, nurtures the monster under folds of custom flesh. Both the cool interiors & medical devices are in contrast with the burning, scarlet red, hellish color of costumes, hidden floor levels, flesh corridors, blood iso drinks.

I especially enjoyed the relationship of delicate Sadeian Rose(perfect name), the quiet, mousy Rose that nevertheless is scarified by various accidents, horrible if ridiculous events- her perfect face already a broken mirror, and her expansive ‘friend’; the truly overpowering and obnoxious protector. I felt this has very much to do with how charities or rich donors actually play their goodness drowning their objects of care that they pick up from the gutter like little puppies to be offered the best. One does not bite the hand that feeds or caresses you no?

I like how all the characters have something repulsive in their goodness, how in this world of charitable rich people everything is “mercy-fucking” and “free experimental treatment” with no price tag attached, almost everything appears like a favor to the poor, luxury crutches for the down trodden, poisoned cups for the forsaken.