August 12, 2003

Super Happy Fun Monkey Bash DX

Acting on a tip, I organized an expedition with Jenny, Drew, and Gwen to the new Alamo Drafthouse up in what I jokingly refer to as “Waco” to see Super Happy Fun Monkey Bash DX. This is one of those things that makes the Alamo great. A compilation running roughly 90 minutes of extremely strange snippets taped off of Japanese television. Before the show proper, they ran trailers of weird Japanese movies–mostly horror and ultraviolence movies–about one-third being made by Beat Takeshi (a one-man weirdness corps).

The weirdness came in three general flavors: tokusatsu (live-action superhero shows like Ultraman) and anime, advertising, and variety show sketches. Most of the clips were from the last category, and all (or nearly all) of them curiously featured the same actor (name unknown) unsuccessfully trying to avoid cracking up in every routine. These variety shows are, very approximately, on the order of the Carol Burnet Show, but in terms of scripts and execution, her show was like Masterpiece Theatre by comparison. This focus was a bit unfortunate–sure, the variety shows are fun, in an incredibly stupid and scatalogical way, but I love the five-second blipverts that are so weird they almost make your brain explode, and there weren’t many of these (I suppose it would be exhausting to sit through an hour of five-second ads). Tokusatsu shows would be worth more focus, because the villains are so incredibly bizarre. For that matter, they could have gotten pretty good mileage out of the many travel-and-eat shows that consist mostly of some pretty young thing oohing over the lapidarian culinary productions of some kitchen-sensei, and then, mouth full of said creation, grunting ああああっ!おいしいい〜!

Oh yes, Japan can be a strange place.