Insufficient Direction

February 13, 2015

Moyoco Anno – Vertical – 2014 – 1 volume

This makes me so happy!  I will read anything by Moyoco Anno, without exception.  This is an autobiographical work about her life with her husband Hideaki Anno, member of Gainax, director of Evangelion, and generally much more famous than she is.  But it’s my site, so Moyoco needs no introduction, but Hideaki does.

Long story short, honestly, this reminds me a lot of Not Love But Delicious Foods Make Me So Happy! by Fumi Yoshinaga.  As much as I adore Yoshinaga, and as much as I liked the quirky autobiographical bits in that book, it was mostly reviews of Tokyo restaurants that I would never go to, and it was boring.  Insufficient Direction is mostly Hideaki and Moyoco swapping lines from obscure ’60s and ’70s Japanese TV shows, as well as Ultraman and Gundam.  Vertical does an excellent job of footnoting the whole thing, and you’ll find copious notes in the back that explains each and every reference.  But it’s hard to read if you don’t get them.  I don’t get most of them, but I knew enough that I was kept interested throughout.  In the spirit of a plotless journal comic, I’m going to continue with unrelated comments as I read the book.

– On a page where Hideaki (called Director-kun here, which is adorable) criticizes the authenticity of the Gundam ride in the Highlander amusement park, there is a flawed reference to Star Wars.  BOOOOOOOO.  Such a huge western geek faux pas!  It would be like me saying Gundam are controlled by an external remote operator in the same sentence I criticize the character design of 4-Lom in Tiny Death Star.  Also, disappointed that the name of the amusement park passed without comment.

– I wonder if the Time Skeletons in Time Bokan were the inspiration for the weird skeleton henchmen in Ratman.

– The note for page 43 explains at length about the shows they turn into Power Rangers here (aka the annual Super Sentai series).  One of the factoids is that instead of casting different types of characters (going off the original Power Rangers, things like cool guy, geek, Asian girl, black guy, white girl), they cast only hot guys the same age as the kid’s mothers, and female adult film stars as the supervillain to attract the fathers.  Self-fulfilling stereotype FTW!  Speaking of Power Rangers… GODDAMN I wish I was rich.

– The drawing of Moyoco traveling through a picturesque countryside, but trapped in a car listening to Tokusatsu music, is priceless. As is the depiction of Hideaki’s absolute joy over the ability to make compilation CDs.

– SaruManga!  Excuse me… I teared up a little.

– Eroica!!!~~~<3<3<3  *stops reading Insufficient Direction to binge-read Eroica*  I need the last volume, though.  Boo.  And in the super-nerd spirit of the thing here, Eroica was first serialized in Viva Princess, not Princess, as stated in the end notes.  Sons of Eve was still running in Princess when Eroica first started.

– I love the note that delicately spells out the derogatory associations of cosplaying in Japan.

Kimi wa Pet got made into a what now?  Drama?  That would be awesome!

– I’ve not seen Mahoromatic, but I myself have Mahoro de Mambo on my iPod.  It’s a great song!  But I feel weirdly ashamed now…

– Love the thorough end note for Naruto, too.  I wonder where the notes come from?  Are they in the Japanese edition too?  Some of them seem weirdly personal, but maybe Hideaki Anno’s life is a matter of public record in Japan.  Or something.

– Bewitched started the Magical Girl genre in Japan?! WHAT. It couldn’t have been it’s cooler sister, I Dream of Jeannie…

– Rally ho!

– But then again, the notes also talk about how much Moyoco likes certain songs, so she must’ve written them.

– I laughed when the inn Moyoco used to impress Hideaki’s parents sent her the map with a Gatchaman stamp on it.  She was trying so hard!

– Also, where she’s drinking beer and humoring Hideaki by complimenting his Kamen Rider belt, then draws the typical shoujo manga panel with the girl trying to brag about her clothes to her boyfriend… perfect.

– Secretly, all the reasons Moyoco lists for buying a house are why I want one. And my partner knows it, too.  I really am a closet otaku.

– The chapter title, based on the book title (confused, since I thought its Japanese name was Soku-chu), based on the Evangelion episode title, based on the Harlen Ellison title.  Socrates in Love… ah.  The manga wasn’t very good.

– I liked Moyoco’s fear of Director-kun turning into a regular guy that liked spa treatments, and the manga intervention.

– Aww, I don’t have Happy Mania with me, I can’t check the error.

– See, but then there are notes explaining who Nobita is, which would be totally unnecessary in Japan.  I can’t decide!

– And then Hellmouth passes without comment.  Perhaps that was an addition for the English version?  I can’t imagine they’d explain Nobita, but Buffy was just too ubiquitous to say anything about.

– OH MY GOD YES that panel where they talk about being excited about buying geek stuff whenever they want because they didn’t have the money as kids.

– Also, recognizing that they would necessarily do embarrassingly personal creative endeavors about their kid if they ever had one.  Too perfect.

– I can’t help but laugh every time I see the references to Thunderbirds and other APF series. I refused to stop watching the Thunderbirds movie on Netflix one day until I saw them get out of the cockpit and do something. To which my partner patiently explained that the characters live in a world of rampant paraplegy, and were never going to stand. The condescending explanation still makes me laugh.

– The note credits! A bit of both, then. Thank you, Ed Chavez!