Ice Makoto Kobayashi

Ice Makoto Kobayashi
Anime, like all genres, has its own set of codes, or rules, which help the viewer recognize the work as part of a genre. Over the years, anime has become such a specific, ritualistic genre that its greatest acolytes will tell you that "anime" is not a genre itself, but merely a method of delivery and that multiple genres and subgenres exist within its framework. Be that as it may, anime seems to exist now as a very insular, very complex and very confounding elaborate inside joke. Fans trade it, obsess over it, speak of it in their own language and mercilessly shun those on the outside. Occasionally, something Japanese and animated crosses over into the purview of regular movie watchers, but for the most part, anime stays with the otaku. Worry not, folks, you aren't missing much. Ice is a feature-length story about girl warriors with mystical powers and beautiful hair trying to manage the oncoming apocalypse. For some reason, Ice is split into 70-some odd chapters, which may or may not be meant to be watched individually, interrupted by breaks for bubble tea. Ice works every anime trope in the book: characters seem to be waking up from dreams every three or four minutes; hyper-Lolitas have unbeknownst powers; and bizarre, multi-limbed creatures appear out of thin air. It's beautiful and totally nonsensical. Ultimately the context of Ice becomes lost and the world it creates will appeal only directly to the sort of viewer who's attuned to this type of stuff. It's a make-believe fantasy world within a larger make-believe fantasy world and without the proper tools to unpack the signifiers, all but the most hardcore will be lost. The DVD is packaged with what appears to be footage of the premiere and interviews with what looks like the creative types responsible, but being entirely in Japanese, your guess is as good as mine. (MVD)