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Re(10):What happened to Gold of Babylon
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Some final thoughts on the Road to Babylon. Wait, was that a Hope/Crosby picture? Whatever. After re-watching Babylon I was struck by how normal the whole thing was. Yes, the ending is bizarre but is it any more weird than Lupin vs. The Clone? While there are a number of jokes that are off-putting and don't land properly aren't they simply window dressing for a story that plays out similarly to something like Nostradamus? In the end Babylon feels very much like standard Lupin fare, even going so far as to include extended references to both Cagliostro and the original Lupin pt.2 opening. If I had to point to one thing that makes Babylon stick so firmly in memory -for good or bad- is the art style. The characters have the bright colors and wet pasta physiques of Lupin pt.3 but blown up to silver screen proportions. What worked in a quick television show feels like an odd statement of the time period when put into a movie. Babylon came out three years before Akira and this is the look they went with? The jacket with rolled up sleeves Lupin was wearing at the start of the film feel like a direct precursor to the yuppie scum look of Ryo Saeba but mostly Babylon feels like a movie removed from time. I finally found some resolution to my confusion when I looked at the character art in the extras section. The characters look a lot better as non-moving pencil art. Looking at these limber caricatures finally made me realize that the art of Babylon is trying to recreate the look of the original manga. In some shots Lupin's face looked more like a Monkey Punch drawing than it has in any other animated adaption. Unfortunately, turning those static images into moving characters and putting a layer of day-glo paint on them caused them to mutate from being a manga homage to their own, odd thing. But the big, big problem that makes it not at all like Monkey Punch is that the character designer decided to make the women stylized and lumpy. Monkey Punch may make his male characters rubbery but his women were pulchritudinous pin-ups. When Zenigata gets a gang of ICPO girls they should be international beauties; instead it looked like their faces were partially melted with one eye perpetually lower than the other. In the end Babylon feels like an unintentional follow-up to Teruo Ishii's Horrors of Malformed Men.
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