EVIL TOONS. What do a babysitter, the Japanese and cartoons have to do with personal trauma? Don’t worry this isn’t a molestation story, Pearl Harbor is safe and despite the title, this has nothing to do with Fred Olen Ray‘s 1992 film, which I rather enjoyed- you should check it out. Think cartoons are kids stuff? Well, this has to do with some very “different” cartoons from the ones you probably grew up with…
When I was a kid, I got sent to a school guidance counselor because I would draw pictures of monsters eating people, etc.; people were clearly worried. Having reassured said guidance counselor that they didn’t have a little maniac on their hands-at least not one that would act out-I was given a clear bill of mental health. Flash forward some time and a chance encounter with certain anime had me questioning whether anyone was checking on the collective mental health of the Japanese.
During a babysitting session with a friend and his older sister, we watched what would be my introduction into a substratum of the cartoon world I couldn’t have possibly imagined existed and which would end forever the child’s innocence under which I labored. It was called The Guyver: Bio-Booster Armor, specifically the fifth episode “The Death of the Guyver“.
It was the most brutal vicious violent thing I had ever seen. I couldn’t believe what I was watching and it took me a long time of quiet reflection to come to terms with what I had just witnessed and it ultimately rearranged the way I viewed the world and our place and role in it. I didn’t know cartoons killed one another- I mean, after all, to the best of my recollection, this never occurred on The Flintstones; I don’t recall Fred ever bashing Barney’s brains out in one of his frequent fits of rage.
The thing that struck me about The Guyver as I got older is that aside from the combination of sci-fi and horror and the initial shock of the violence, there are themes which in my younger years, went way over my head. It explores the great unknown of human origins and our purpose on this planet and comes up with an impersonal answer-in essence we are all biological weapons of alien origin- can anyone really say we aren’t? I can’t.
Little did I know that The Guyver was far from the only, let alone the most brutal horror anime out there. As I worked my way through the Elysian Fields of the video store isles I would come to know the anime section very well. What I found went far beyond what the western horror films I avidly consumed would show; everything from rape (sometimes of the tentacle variety), torture, cannibalism, mutilation and child killing all rendered in excruciating detail.
Urotsukidoji, Violence Jack, Genocyber, DevilMan, Ninja Scroll; all contained the violent, unsparing, anti-humanist ethos of violence as an inseparable, essential part of the whole of life, which we Westerners are so removed from and fearful of. Thank the universal force for reacquainting me with these facts through the medium of cartoons.