1489 – Flight of Dragons (1982)

Flight of Dragons was a Japanese-US co-production 982 long feature animated fantasy film produced and directed by Jules Bass and Arthur Rankin, Jr. (of The Hobbit and other 70s 80s animations).

There is a deeply personal connection with this animation and its cheesy song bring back dead media memories. This being one of the illegal VHS tapes I watched as an enthralled kid with Andrei Ciubotaru my high school friend (artist and art teacher now) and few others in 80s Romania. Pirated VHS where the only way to get such material, or via neighboring countries TV station depending where you were (Serbia, Hungary or in my case Bulgaria). Most of these VHS were dubbed by one single person – film critic Irina Nistor who did voices for all characters and for hundreds if not thousands tapes. This one was a rare EN copy.

Apart from being a childhood artefact it still stands the test of time for me. It is one of the great animations of the 80s and has this strange bizarre effect of mediated arrival via a winded move; a hybrid of US based D & D material content drawn by the top of the art blooming Japanese anime industry of the times.

It is also interesting in other regards. It is a animation based on a speculative evolution book from 1979 by Peter Dickinson with the same name, inspired itself by the speculative biology theories developed inside the Earthsea Cycle by Ursula K LeGuin (1968-2001), who I didn’t know much about at the time.

It is a sort of scientific explanation (or pseudo-scientific, take it how you want) that naturalizes these mythical monsters – the dragons. All those probable explanation of the dragon physiology, metabolism and chemical peculiarities (such as the hydrochloric acid thesis) from the movie are all present in this earlier book. The impetus to rationalize or to give scientific importance to various legendary, fables or superstitions may seem naive or misleading but I think there is great merit to that. Not only does it blur otherwise highly patrolled borders around what is a proper object of science but it also shows the deep interplay btw science, occultism, alchemy and Enlightenment. It also show that fictions have becoming shaping forces on their own, no matter if false of true, they are living their imprint on the world we live in. There is also the point of the peculiar history of the history science itself, especially the Scientific Revolution in its hermetic or esoteric threads. Thinking here of Frances Yates books in particular but also about the admirable work done by Erik Davis in his new book High Weirdness and at https://techgnosis.com/ in widening and following a fertile mutual interplay. A particularity of the animation is its emphasis on magic rather than religion or even sorcery.

The Flight of Dragons could not be more actual than nowdays in an age where flat earthers and hollow earthers and neo-barbarians co-exist with Netflix and where fictions and in particular, seemingly fringe creepy pasta fictions have definitely a life of their own. When the fringe is center stage, one is now aware both of the magical powers of science and of the “meme magic” (the infamous #memewarfare or CCRU hyperstitions), and more disturbingly of the big exploitable reservoirs and operational powers of online and offline hate. Otherwise it is an early example of D & D and plays on the fact that it is all a big animated board game. This fact reappears several time during the movie. Once played by the former scientist P. Dickinson and game board designer that actually plays the movie characters in a pawn shop setting were with the owner trying to get him to invest in his new gaming enterprise. Another time it is Ommadon himself, the dark wizzard that uses it as surveillance technology, like Sauron, monitoring the various characters in their moves towards his domain. It is never clear who is playing who and who is being written by whom – as much as thethe animated character Dickinson seems to be precisely the author f thethe dragon speculative evolution book.

I will focus on a few incredible moments from this animation. The first is the setting of a (board game) meeting of the ruling multicultural wizzards and their panic response; Carlinus the Green Wizzard (power of life, growth, everything green), Solaris the Blue Wizzard (sea, heavens) and Golden Wizard Lo Tae Zhao(ether, light) and Ommadon (black magic and evil) to discuss the need to protect and basically make invisible the magical realm. It is basically deterritorialization and reterritorialization in action. In particular this disenchantment manifests itself in an eco-primitivist context, the water wheels of particular nasty bunch of humans (looking more like goblins) kills a swan that is revived by Carolinus. To be honest I also get the slight feel of a sort of white collar vs working class polluters going on, but it is just me maybe. The aim is to protect this fantasy world from (guess what) Entzauberung aka the encroaching rationalism of Science and Technology that starts to limit, actively debunk and eliminate magic.

Here something happens that sort breaks the magic alliance – Ommadon is pretty sure that the palliative, pacifist and protectionist methods of the three other wizzards are doomed in the face of relentless progress. Here he exhibits a ruthless proto- accelerationist plan: to turn humans against themselves, to use hate, and the vicious destructive power of machinery to annihilate forests and thus human life support systems as such. Also capital in the form of accumulation and greed seems to be part of Ommadon’s answer to the challenge posed by progress to magic.

At the face of these, the three ‘good’ wizards resort to an apparently self-defeating tactic, they recruit a human from the future. It is probably exactly the opposite as the first Terminator. But then the anachronism works, not only does a Yank at King Arthur’s court miraculously solve medieval problems but he is actually more susceptible to the charm or lost magic, more retro, more into princesses like Melisande and unreal dragons. We could go endlessly on, with the end fact being that the modern skeptic is somehow enchanted with (also very modern) love in the end- the most powerful of magic that keeps him connected with the magic realms. There is a bit of Luceafarul material in there too. They bring somebody disenchanted with science and the dryness of it all – an escapist but with a science background to smuggle him to their world and make him start a quest against Ommadon. This is indeed the fulcrum of their argument – that he can be re-enchanted by what just seem his to own game creations which are in fact somehow ‘real’ and consequaential, make him part of an existing fragile world that needs his help.

Second spoiler moment and one of my favorites is the final confrontation, where everything seems lost and all the various allies (a wolf, a knight, archer, dwarf etc) are being killed by the evil dragon Bryagh in a desperate final battle. In the end only Peter, the nerd, geek and scientist faces the immensely more-than-human inhuman Ommadon that aims to squash all opposition. Here comes science into play – as counter spell against the evil black magic. Astronomy, particle physics and Einsteinian relativity theory formulas are being deployed and invoked exactly like magical spells, as ways to mercilessly dispel and even mock the darkest of the darkest magic. In the effect, while actually accomplishing what the good wizzards feared most, they also show the peculiar new magic of science that is as deeply operational as magic is supposed to have been even more so.

Lastly, not to be ignored is the fact that Peter’s mind is being transferred into the body of a dragon. In the beginning he is just cosplaying a young knight in a quest, then things go terribly wrong (or perfect depending on who is who). I consider this one of the greatest episodes in any speculative fiction – be it film, books or animation. It posits the fact that there is some mutual discomfort, that his mind and all its knowledge is not just being uploaded into another imaginary body. It does not even matter if it is an imaginary body or not, and this is the high speculative tenor of it. This body is actually quite substantial, it does work – it is a fire breathing, gas belching, flying dragon by the name of Gorbash. Gorbash is not gone, he actually sleeps inside the same head. You will have to discover the details of this unwanted body swap. This is a great experiment in dragon embodiment. It is not enough to write, to think and love dragons, one should also feel dragon, one should also switch places with them and see things from their perspective.

Suffice to say that Peter is thus forced to explore ‘scientifically’ the peculiarities of his new (actually Gorbash’s) body. This has all sorts of unintended consequences, including how the others perceive him, befriend him or not or how he learns from the old dragon to be a dragon or the fact that he has still to master and practice his fire metabolism and hone his flying skills. Being a brainy does not help in this case, his geeky mind is still actually relatively harmless in the most terrifying body of all. He is basically almost learning like a person who had a stroke – how to move, what and when to eat, and how know it’d strengths amd weaknesses, how to handle the various compartments of his body.

1359 – Trover Saves the Universe (2019 video game)

From the co-creator of Rick and Morty comes Trover Saves the Universe.

Your dogs have been dognapped by a beaked lunatic named Glorkon who stuffed them into his eye holes and is using their life essence to destroy the universe. You’re partnered with Trover, a little purple eye-hole monster who isn’t a huge fan of working or being put in the position of having to save the universe. He’s also not that big a fan of you quite frankly, and neither am I. (Jk, you’re great)

Only you and Trover can save everything in this bizarre comedy adventure, created by Justin Roiland!

  • A comedy adventure filled with combat, platforming, puzzles, and morally questionable choices. See how the best intentions can go horribly awry.
  • You control Trover’s movements, but not his mouth. He’s got a lot to say about what’s going on in the game.
  • Travel the cosmos to experience a variety of weird alien planets and bizarre characters with big personalities.
  • Upgrade Trover AND YOURSELF with new abilities to (hopefully) defeat Glorkon while evading awkward situations.
  • You’ll be immersed in weirdness, no matter which display you use — play on TV, monitor or VR headset displays.

SYSTEM REQUIREMENTS (MINIMUM):  Requires a 64-bit processor and operating system / OS: Windows 7/8.1/10 (64-bit versions) / Processor: Intel Core i5-2400/AMD FX-8320 or better / Memory: 8 GB RAM / Graphics: NVIDIA GTX 670 2GB/AMD Radeon HD 7870 2GB or better / Storage: 25 GB available space

Trover Saves the Universe – Official Free DLC Trailer


steam

1289 – Akira (1988)

timespace coordinates: AD 2019 Neo-Tokyo (31 years after ww3)

Akira (Japanese: アキラ Hepburn: Akira) is a 1988 Japanese animated post-apocalyptic cyberpunk film directed by Katsuhiro Otomo, based on Otomo’s 1982 manga of the same name. The film had a production budget of ¥1.1 billion ($9 million), making it the most expensive anime film of its time.

Set in a dystopian 2019, Akira tells the story of Shōtarō Kaneda, a leader of a local biker gang whose childhood friend, Tetsuo Shima, acquires incredible telekinetic abilities after a motorcycle accident, eventually threatening an entire military complex amidst chaos and rebellion in the sprawling futuristic metropolis of Neo-Tokyo. While most of the character designs and settings were adapted from the manga, the plot differs considerably, and does not include much of the last half of the manga. The soundtrack, which draws heavily from traditional Indonesian gamelan as well as Japanese noh music, was composed by Shōji Yamashiro and performed by Geinoh Yamashirogumi.

Akira premiered in Japan on July 16, 1988 by Toho, but was initially unable to recoup its budget. It was released the following year in the United States by pioneering animation distributor Streamline Pictures. It garnered an international cult following after various theatrical and VHS releases, eventually earning over $80 million worldwide from home video sales. It is widely regarded by critics as one of the greatest animated and science fiction films ever made, as well as a landmark in Japanese animation. It is also a landmark film in the cyberpunk genre, particularly the Japanese cyberpunk subgenre, as well as adult animation. The film had a significant impact on popular culture worldwide, paving the way for the growth of anime and Japanese popular culture in the Western world as well as influencing numerous works in animation, comics, film, music, television and video games. (wiki)

imdb   /  live-action adaptation

1275 – The Dead Don’t Die (2019)

timespace coordinates: 2010’s small rural town Centerville

The Dead Don’t Die is a 2019 American horror comedy film / cautionary tale written and directed by Jim Jarmusch. It features an ensemble cast including Adam DriverBill MurrayChloë SevignySteve BuscemiAustin ButlerRZATilda SwintonTom WaitsDanny GloverCaleb Landry JonesRosie PerezCarol Kane and Selena Gomez and follows a small town’s police force as they combat a sudden zombie invasion. (wiki)

imdb