Andromedia and Speed (and Da Pump!)

Filed in Cult Of Pop 2.0

After putting it off for months, I finally got around to watching Miike Takashi’s Andromedia last night. I’ve seen a couple of his movies before – Visitor Q was okay and The Happiness of Katakuris is absolutely wonderful – though I’ve made a point to avoid his most notorious works, such as Audition and Ichi the Killer. Not to sound too wussy about it, but I need to be very much in the mood to stomach the kind of grand guignol these movies are supposed to be. I love horror movies but prefer being scared and thrilled rather than being grotesqued out.

That said, I knew I’d have no problem with Andromedia because I knew it as “that Speed movie” long before I knew it as “that Miike movie”. And while the prospect of Miike doing something horrible and wrong with the biggest Jpop group of their time would’ve been an intriguing idea, I knew there was no chance in hell of that happening.

Anyway, I enjoyed the film a lot more than I feel I should have, thanks to two very prominent appendages on the lovely Hiroko Shimabukuro. Yeah, you know what I’m talking about… She’s got a big pair, too, and they’re out there for the world to see.

The movie was good enough, I guess. Better than Morning Cop or even Pinch Runner, and better acted. The plot was intriguing enough, if a tad moldy eight years down the line. I think I’d find the whole artificial intelligence and cyberculture motif noteworthy if it didn’t seem so dated in its approach, way out here in the 21st century. It was hilarious how they created the impression that Hiro looked out the screen the way everyone looked into the screen at her: everyone looks left, she turns in the same direction. Kind of threw out any sense of Neuromancer-level complexity for me, but at least it made me laugh.

The metaphor of media and idols is impossible to avoid in a film such as this – but it isn’t explored nearly enough for my taste. The part where Hiro jumps from screen to screen and takes over cel phones could have been ripe for such commentary on Speed and the marketing of an idol group, but it wasn’t the point and so they quickly moved along…

And the fact that it was released the year before The Matrix, which bears some similarities to the film – especially with the internet tentacle squid thingies – reminded me of how much the Wachowskis cannibalize their pop culture fetishes in their quest for something nominally innovative. In this case, it looks like both Miike and the Bros relied on Shirow. The sudden rush of video verite to indicate a flash of memories reminded me of Anno Hideaki, though I know it goes back at least to the French New Wave…

I like the fact that it was a romance and that Hiro actually got to kiss her love interest a couple of times, even if those kisses were relatively chaste. It reminded me yet again of how chaste the image of the H!P girls are in comparison. Can you imagine any of the current Musume being asked in a movie about co-ed baths, the way Takako and Eriko were by Da Pump?

(Well, maybe it could happen. Once on Utaban, Tsuji mentioned how Nakai felt her up, and he admitted he did it. Neither seemed particularly shaken up over it. Maybe sexual overtones geinou-to-geinou are more acceptable in the H!P camp than geinou-to-otaku…)

But how could Yu resist her? I mean, just look at Hiro. She’s Hiro, for God’s sake! And just check out those… you know… those ears on her! Wow!

I love the fact that Hiro has such huge freakin’ ears, with Takako coming in a close second. shidoshi had mentioned Hiro in particular in the comments for my ear fetish entry a few weeks back, so I should have expected it. But in the movie she’s got this total Dumbo hawtness that I just couldn’t believe. Every scene with her I was thinking, “Beautiful smile. Lovely eyes. Cute voice. And really sexy ears.”

I don’t remember her ears being that large in recent PVs – though admittedly I don’t watch them more than once or twice. But even in her Coco d’Or performances, which I love and can watch repeatedly, her ears weren’t so prominent. Maybe she still had some growing to do at that point – likely, she was still in her teens – and that her ears were just way ahead of the pack.

Honestly, the whole movie for me was about watching Hiro and thinking about how hot she was and how hot she still is. Even when she was just a bad CGI, she was hot! And the more realistic she became – from a simple cartoon to someone with that odd DOA-ish sheen (the video game, not the Miike movie), to an actual video of Miss Shimabukoro herself – it’s weird, but it had the same kind of thrill as watching a very gentle strip tease. Except instead of shedding more clothes, this was a case of taking on more pixels, higher resolution, until she looked “real” again.

Having said all that, I can’t say I was disappointed to find out the rest of Speed had little to do in the movie. The funny part is, it looks like Hiro had less acting to do as most of the scenes with all four girls involved Hiro’s picture on the laptop. For all we knew, she was sleeping in a trailer while the other three filmed those scenes. And having to recite most of her lines like a robot probably made things even easier…

That said, I could kind of appreciate the dynamic that emerged in the movie, as if it kind of confirmed the expected role each girl plays in the group. Hiro’s the center of attention, the media superstar. Eriko’s the alpha female who leads the friends. Takako’s jealous of the attention Hiro gets, perhaps wondering, “If only my ears were larger…!” And Hitoe’s out there doing her own thing, looking funky because her looks aren’t as traditionally attractive as the other three. I still think she’s hotter than Eriko or Takako, but that’s just me…

And lemme say, I absolutely loved the musical number from Da Pump! I actually thought the car chase with them was one of the highlights of the film as a film – as opposed to the film as Hiro eyecandy – and when it moved on to the song and dance, I actually got into it.

I may get my own copy of the DVD sooner or later, if I really want me some Hiro eyecandy to keep around all the time. Or if I do indeed develop an ear fetish and cross-pollinate it with my love of Jpop – which would be like chocolate in my peanut butter, the two go so well together.


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3 Responses to “Andromedia and Speed (and Da Pump!)”
  1. k2c says:

    Sorry that this has nothing to do with your entry but why did you change the layout from the reel on the side?

  2. kk says:

    Wow….. I saw this movie when I was about 12 (year younger than hiro here) and I thought this movie was horrible. Granted my japanese at the time was pretty bad, but just the random of that movie. I mean the sewer dance interlude? When I got older and started watching miike’s other movies I was a bit incredulous that he was the same director. But in the end all I really wanted to say was, I think Takako’s ears are just as big as hiros, granted they dont have the length but they do pop out just a bit more.

    If you watch alot of things with them, Takako is less jelous of hiro and more in awe of her I think. They had a very Tsuji, Rika relationship going on (with takako being tsuji of course)

  3. k2c:

    I was going to change to a new WordPress theme when I realized I just wanted a less cluttered design. So I got rid of the strip on the side and instead made randomized mini-strips in between articles. It’s actually more eyecandy than before, as well as more amenable to smaller resolution screens.


    I believe you about Takako’s ears, but I’m now wondering why Hitoe hid her ears under a cap the entire movie. Was she ashamed about how small they were or something?