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3D > 2D

August 26, 2010

I’m not a big fan of Japanese live action drama series. I love me some Takashi Miike and a lot of other Japanese live action movies, but the TV shows just don’t do much for me. So, as much as I was looking forward to the Moyashimon live action series, I wasn’t expecting much based on my prior experiences with J-drama shit. That makes me pretty damn surprised, and happy, that the Moyashimon live action series is as awesome as it is. Dare I say it’s even better than the anime series.

Damn. I keep throwing out heretical statements about the animeverse. It’s only a matter of time before the Anime Inquisition has me stuffed in an iron maiden shaped like one of the K-On girls.

I think a lot of what makes the Moyashimon live action series so awesome comes down to the casting. The two bumbling, inept sidekicks, fatso and beardo, are perfectly cast. These guys are supposed to be college-aged dudes, but to emphasize their pathetic, immature, manchild states of mind they went with a couple of dudes that are at least in their late 30s. The very fact that they’re “miscast” makes their performances all the more hilarious, since it emphasizes their absurd place in the story. It doesn’t hurt that these guys are pretty good physical actors and nail their pratfalls and sight gags. They have a real Three Stooges vibe going at times, as if Larry and Curly somehow got free of Moe’s tyrannical grasp and somehow became Japanese.

The professor is also awesomely cast. What makes him so cool is the fact that he downplays bits where overacting would seem more natural. Well, he’s still overacting, but he’s doing so with a bit of a subdued tone. When he breaks into one of his laughs, he could easily ham it up and go all super villain on us. Because, yeah, his laugh is so that of a scheming villain trying to take over the world. But he laughs with such a soft, subdued voice that it keeps him from seeming like a grandstanding menace of society and makes him seem more like the crazed old kook that he is. Only some old man with a broken vision of the world would laugh like that.

The key bit of brilliance that’s elevated the entire series is how they’ve played off the whole Yuki situation. In the anime we saw Yuki for about half of the series before he up and disappeared. We knew what he looked like and we knew something was troubling him before he ran off, became a drag queen, and started serving old men at a sleazy neighborhood dive. His “change” was played up as a personal quest of sorts to have Yuki “find himself.” The anime’s take on the story was cool and all, and the payoff in the end was awesome, but the TV series takes a completely different route.

For one thing, they get two completely different actors to play Yuki pre-transgendering and post-transgendering. This allows them to play off of the “transformation” far better than the anime. Yuki’s “normal” look is that of a muscular, manly, Adonis type capable of physical feats of superhuman proportions. In his goth-loli mode, though, they have him played by a woman. Simple as that. There’s no attempt to pretty up a guy and hide his masculine features, they just get a chick to play Yuki in gal-mode. I’m sure that disappointed some peeps out there, but I think it makes the transformation all the more hilarious, since it’s utterly absurd that this Herculean specimen somehow shrinks, de-bulks, and becomes a dainty, feminine fashion model. The juxtaposition makes for a far better scenario than the “yeah, we know it’s him because it looks exactly like him, just with a lot of eyeliner” situation we get in the anime. At least it makes for better physical humor, and since the drama seems to be focusing on the sitcom antics I think it’s all for the better.

As for the microbes, I like how they seem to react more to their surroundings in the live action series. They sometimes seem to be the only characters with something resembling common sense. I especially like how they’re all too willing to call out Sawaki for being the pathetic mess of a man that he is. They’re like some sort of cynical, microscopic, CG Greek chorus.

So yeah, the live action Moyashimon’s the second best series of the season, right after Occult Academy. Kind of a shame that they’re the only two series I ended up sticking with from this season, but that’s the way this shit goes. At least they’re both pretty damn hilarious.

Also: The screencap I used at the beginning is from what has to be one of the coolest scenes I’ve ever seen. Sawaki’s finally realizing that he may or may not have slept with Yuki the night before, and as he’s coming to that realization (and begins to vehemently deny it) Yuki looks right at the camera and gives this look that basically says “Yeah, I tapped that ass. Sawaki’s my bitch.” It’s on a level of awesomeness on par with the bit in Death Proof where Kurt Russell looks at the camera and smiles, knowing he’s about to murder a bunch of hot chicks with his muscle car.

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. August 26, 2010 4:55 AM

    Yuki is played by a female later on? But that negates the idea of BL in Moyashimon! RAGE!!

    • Landon permalink
      August 26, 2010 3:44 PM

      I’ll admit, I was a little disappointed as well, since I was looking forward to seeing people cringe and stuff at seeing all of that play out in live action form, but it worked a lot better than I expected.

  2. August 26, 2010 10:26 PM

    The source material may be the same, but considering that each show totally uses its own tone, I’m reluctant to brand one better than the other. Apples and oranges and whatnot.

    I mean, the two principal characters, Sawaki and Kei are totally different. I’d say Kei IS better in the live action though, since the animated Kei was pretty vanilla till he became a goth loli (out of left field).

    Sawaki, heh… It’s more or less the same situation as with Kei, they’ve dumped his generic facelessness from the anime and focused on his wacky side. I’m rather fond of the actor playing him due to his performance in another role. In fact, if you’ve seen his other role, he pretty much acts like he did there when certain stars were aligned (he was a hard ass in the other show, but his true personality was pretty much Sawaki).

    Of course, it’s amusing that it’s the cartoon/anime version that’s low keyed and the live action’s totally wacky.

  3. Taka permalink
    August 27, 2010 8:24 PM

    yeah I sort of agree with updatedude. the drama has it’s own quirks. Some things I like others I frown upon. I didn’t like Itsuki’s random giant robot spiders or microbe UFO. I never want to hear bentora space people again. I love how they are handling Haruka. She’s given a lot more focus and depth this time around.

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