I recently decided that I must be a masochist. Not a masochist in the traditional sense, but a masochist in subjecting myself to mental anguish time and time again. What I am referring to are the films of Mamoru Oshii. It seems like I am constantly tricking myself into thinking, “OK, now this Oshii movie is going to be good.” No matter how many times I do it, I always walk away feeling ripped-off and dejected, having wasted away 90+ minutes that could have been spent constructively on projects, studying, or masturbating.
Having watched so many Oshii movies, I have come to realize that essentially they are all the same. There is no need to review them separately, because they all have the same themes, animation style, acting, music, and basset hounds. Essentially, all Oshii movies are interchangeable. If you replaced the music from Ghost in the Shell with the music from Patlabor would anyone really notice? Perhaps only the most hardcore Oshii fan. If you were to watch The Sky Crawlers side by side with Jin Roh, you would see that they both sort of meander around and the plot is only advanced when two people start talking at one another for significant(ly boring) amounts of time. After years of in-depth analysis, I have made a shocking discovery…
…There seems to be something amiss whenever Oshii helms another movie. And that thing is the fact that Oshii continues to make THE SAME movie over and over again. He changes the setting and updates the animation style, and no one else seems to notice. Naturally, the Oshii fanboys are quick to disagree, stating that each film is entirely different and extremely complex. (And that I didn’t “get it.”) The thing about Oshii fanboys, however, is that they are a rabid cult. To them, Oshii can do no wrong. He could film himself taking a shit and they would declare it to be a cinematic masterpiece.
However, filming himself taking a shit would show too much direct action for Oshii. He would need to show himself talking about needing to take a shit, discuss the philosophical implications of doing so, wander the streets of Tokyo sullenly to a minimalist Kenji Kawai soundtrack, show a Basset Hound sniffing around another dog’s ass (because that’s what dogs do), and then finally the next day Oshii would return to the screen to discuss more philosophical implications now that he has taken the shit (albeit off-camera). Let’s face it, every single Oshii movie has scenes exactly like those described above. In fact, I imagine Oshii during pre-production would sound something like this:
Oshii: I have found a novel I would like to base my next movie on.
Executive: Oh really, which novel?
Oshii: Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.
Executive: Well, the books made a lot of money, and the live action movies did, too, so I guess we can’t go wrong!
Oshii: I would like to change a few things.
Executive: Like what?
Oshii: First of all, I’m not sure about the setting. It would probably be better taking place in the near future, in Tokyo.
Executive: Oh…well, as long as you keep all the stuff people like about it, like the magic, I’m sure it will be great.
Oshii: Well, those magic scenes are so dreadful. I would rather have the characters discuss the morality of using sorcery instead of showing it. Or perhaps the magic could be a metaphor for the angst and turmoil of adolescence. Before Harry uses any magic he could silently wander the streets of Tokyo. You know what might be better than magic? The characters piloting realistic robots.
Oshii: And Harry’s owl would have to be changed to a Basset Hound.
To further illustrate my point, I have compiled this handy-dandy chart. What you’ll notice is that all Oshii movies, past, present, and future are identical. There is now no longer any need to watch new Oshii movies. Instead, consult the chart, and you will realize that you have already watched every new Oshii film! Incredible! When it comes to Oshii movies, the old adage is true, if you’ve seen one, you’ve seen ‘em all.