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Go out with you? Why not... Do I like to dance? Of course! Take a walk along the beach tonight? I'd love to. But don't try to touch me. Don't try to touch me. Because that will never happen again. "Past, Present and Future"-The Shangri-Las

Monday, August 09, 2010

Neon Montreal Evangelion

Back from Montreal after our second visit. Montreal makes me feel like a kid in Chattanooga again, in a way that I doubt Chattanooga could. The buildings loom so high they make me feel small. Moreover, Francophone culture is just different enough from what I'm accustomed to that it makes me slightly bewildered and curious, like adult culture does to kids. I found it a pleasant sensation.

Speaking of bewildering but pleasant sensations, we just saw that new Neon Genesis Evangelion movie, the first of a planned quartet. At first I was a bit underwhelmed (having watched the original show to death, do I really need to see a slicked-up rehash?) but by the end I rather liked it. The original show (which involved teenagers piloting giant robots a.k.a. Eva units against giant monsters a.k.a. Angels) often veered into rather typical (for the giant robot a.k.a. mecha genre) monster-of-the-week stuff in which the story is, essentially, monster shows up, kids struggle to overcome it, kids heroically succeed. At its most interesting, though, the show portrayed the struggle in less sanitized-for-TV-heroics fashion. Children screaming in agony, viscera gushing from monsters and robots in full-on body horror. The mecha served as objective correlatives for puberty and its accompanying indignities, while easy power fantasies were short-circuited by fear and agony. The new movie focuses on these elements, and the final note of heroism is hard-earned, affirmative without being triumphalist.

Anime fans (at least Western ones) love to whine about how whiny Shinji, the put-upon protagonist, is, but Shinji has good reason to complain. Some anime that followed Eva tried to feature protagonists that were like Shinji only less whiny, but Eva trumps them by making Shinji even whinier. The story is stripped down to a boy struggling against internal and external problems, struggling against his nature, inclination and circumstances to find some path to heroism.

One thing I liked about the dub: the iconic character Rei Ayanami was voiced, in the TV dub, by Amanda Winn, who made Rei, an unapproachable blue-haired girl, seem mysteriously alluring. The new actress, Brina Palencia, makes her sound emotionally flat; without emotional affect, as William Burroughs described fixing heroin addicts. I can tell without looking that there's copious whining about this on anime messageboards, but while a mysteriously alluring girl was the Rei Ayanami I enjoyed in the 90s, today Rei as idiot savant makes more sense, given what we come to know of her. Emotionally stunted Rei works for me.

And now, some Montreal photos. My new phone's camera is the digital equivalent of pinhole camera, which may have some nostalgia value in thirty years.

Colored windows can produce some interesting light-play.

This is where the fancy-pants scientists gathered before meetings, fancy-pants science being the reason for the trip.

I saw this little guy from the taxi and had to catch a picture of him at my earliest opportunity.

This is what I think of when I think of Montreal. Excuse the terrible cropping, but the sidewalk was busy.


Montreal has paper lanterns. This was not the exterior of NOOBOX, a noodle chain my Wife fixated on, but both NOOBOX and these lanterns speak to the Chinatown element of Montreal.

As a rule of thumb, the better the Montreal restaurant, the more audacious the condom ads in the Men's Room. The model in this ad appears to be 16, so you know my goat cheese tart and turnip soup were excellent.


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