Aliens in This World

An ordinary Catholic and a science fiction and fantasy fan.

Tuesday, July 15, 2003

Anime Christmas Episodes: Cyborg 009

I'm probably going to have to do an ongoing series on anime Christmas episodes. They're always interesting. Is it a totally secular or Shinto/Buddhist person's reflection on a Christian holiday, or a Christian trying to tell a story that will touch the heart of a Shinto or Buddhist person? You never know.

Cyborg 009, currently airing on Cartoon Network, is an anime based on a very old, very famous comics ('manga') series from the sixties. (Ex-Manga and this manga listing provide reviews.) The show is very well made.

(Unfortunately, the American dubbing once again follows the annoying trend of having characters from all over the world played by Americans who all have the same regional accent. This was incredibly annoying in G Gundam (in which mecha drivers from all over the world contend in a tournament while representing their home countries). It's not less annoying here. The British guy? The French woman? Same accent. Except for the black guys, who are played by black people so they sound black. Russians and Chinese folks have less difference of accent than black people. Uh huh. And never mind that the black characters aren't from America; they will speak with the standard accepted African-American accent, because otherwise they wouldn't be properly black. *rolls eyes* I admit that cretinously cheesy accents are worse than no accents at all, but when you've got a team of nine people wearing identical outfits, I want accents! It worked for Star Trek, didn't it?)

Anyway, back to the Christmas episode, which aired last night. The female cyborg, whose real name is Francoise, goes home to Paris for Christmas for a day. Like all the cyborgs, her family is all dead, and she was cryogenically frozen for years after she was stolen away by the terrorists of Black Ghost to be made a cyborg. So she wanders Paris pursued by her memories. She particularly remembers her brother Jean-Paul, who apparently was killed doing aerobatics, and her best friend Natalie, who made her promise never to stop ballet dancing. But of course Francoise can no longer dance; she's in a war for survival against Black Ghost. But she can't help remembering her old love of dancing, as symbolized by an old movie of The Red Shoes.

At this point, things get surreal. Francoise is apparently captured by Black Ghost and a hallucination-causing chip implanted on her neck. One hallucination puts her in front of Notre Dame, mysteriously empty on Christmas Eve, and has her attacked by gargoyles that morph back and forth into her friends and family, all insisting that she dance. The idea seems to be that when her teammates come to pick her up, she'll kill them while caught in the illusion. But while Francoise dances on and on in her red shoes, not realizing she's dancing on the crumbling balcony of an abandoned church, Cyborg 009 is led to her by a man in a biplane -- her dead brother Jean-Paul. When Cyborg 009 manages to get Francoise out of her trance without getting killed or letting her fall through the holes in the floor, fireworks go off over Paris and the biplane appears once more, only to fade away after Jean-Paul waves to Francoise.

But this isn't the weirdest Christmas episode I've seen. Not by a long shot.

(Btw, 009 spent his childhood in an orphanage run by a Catholic priest. The priest was murdered when he discovered that Black Ghost was faking adoptive families in order to kidnap children and use them in experiments.)


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