SHORT PEACE: Ranko Tsukigime's Longest Day
takes you through several gameplay styles including a sidescroller, a bullet-hell type shooter, and a platformer. The short story for this part of Short Peace
is that Ranko is on a mission to kill her father in order to avenge her mother. On the way, she fights demons, her friend is turned into a fierce dragon with hearts in its scales, and a Pomeranian serves as the announcer for a fight between Ranko and her father. Check off the anime trope list for: lolita fashion, high school girl, high school girl assassin, bizarre weapon, Moe triggers, Cosplay, Sentai, Lucha Libre Wrestlers (what?), Three-eyed girls, and attempting to murder multiple family members in messed up ways. Ok, some of that might not be typical, but Longest Day
is all about throwing everything at you.
So the whole "This is so bizarre, look how unexpected this is" thing may not work on everyone. I feel as though itís funny as an inside joke to fans of Japanese culture, but to me, if it doesnít make some kind of sense, it gets old quickly. And so while talking Pomeranians, Luche Libre wrestlers, and a panty-powered school girl might sound like it can go somewhere funny, sometimes it really just feels thrown together. Yes, for all the gifs this short game may have spawned, there really is little backstory to any of them. This is not to dismiss all the humorous parts of the game, because it does get really hilarious. Itís just that the disconnected nature of everything doesnít work for me when it spans the entire length of a game or anime. But hey, I do like Ranko's sniper rifle violin. That's just cool.
Longest Day is a very short game, and only part of this package designed to represent Japanese culture, so on to the anime. The first anime, "POSSESSIONS," depicts a traveling man in what is at least early 1900's garb. He stops to rest in a small shrine, but soon discovers that the old objects littering the shrine have taken on a spirit of their own. Somehow not fazed by the poltergeists surrounding him, he realizes the objects simply long to be useful again. He repairs old umbrellas and reuses discarded fabric, eventually calming the spirits and enabling him to leave. Itís sometimes a little frightening, but overall a nice lesson in respecting things and your environment.
"GAMBO" is the next anime, with a more disturbing tone to it. Itís "messed up" to say the least. The basic premise of this story is that a demon has been pillaging a village, abducting young girls until only one remained. That young girl goes into the forest and asks a white bear to slay the demon. The anime goes in and out between some pretty disgusting gore and the rest of the story, but it really feels like almost fetishized gore - almost a grindhouse film. Where you would expect a moral or a reason for the bear or the demonís actions, you get very little. Then itís back to the blood spraying, freaky demon pregnancy, and bone snapping. Not my cup of tea exactly, and mind you, I donít shy away from gore. It just feels like this is over the top for no real reason. Then again, there may be a lot that I'm missing, culturally, from this story as well. Was there something significant about a white bear and a demon in particular? It would have been nice if an explanation of the cultural context would have been offered.
Of the remaining two films which include "A Farewell to Weapons" and "COMBUSTIBLE," my favorite has to be "COMBUSTIBLE." It takes you back to 18th century Japan in the city of Edo and depicts the story of two children, Owaka and Matsukichi, who grow up as neighbors. I laugh a bit at descriptions of this being an "epic" or "spectacular" tale. True, it is a tale of love that can never be, and it is rather heart-wrenching in the end. Still, the turning point in the story is when Owaka merely walks away from a fire she accidentally starts. The fire that arises may be spectacular, but the main themes of the story are concepts you have to contemplate on your own; They arenít necessarily jumping out at you through the dialogue or the action. Speaking of fires, youíll also get a lesson on how they fought fires in those times without access to fire hydrants or protective equipment. It really is a great tale of Japanese ingenuity as well.
"A Farewell to Weapons" has a good premise in theory, and it looks really great, but again itís one of those anime where it just doesnít really come together as a whole. It follows a military-ops crew in what I assume is a far off future Japan. It seems the cities are unlivable, with the still deadly weapons of an old war roaming the derelict streets. The crewís mission seems to be to deactivate the weapons, but that mission is far from simple. As the crew suffers casualties and tech difficulties, it follows a kind of "wow that was cool" to "wow that turns my stomach for no reason" formula. In the end, itís a good adventure with lots of action, but also a few messages to think about. War is hell, especially when its weapons live on to continue the war. Hereís a story where a team of people will risk their lives fighting the ghost of a war that ended long ago - a pretty existential tale if you ask me.