Camp is not widely celebrated in the media, but that doesn’t change the pervasive hold it has on society. Some shows are written with the express purpose of being camp, but these are mostly lower-profile or niche shows. Granted, the internet has made more people aware of “so bad it’s good” ideas, shows, or dramatic moments in the media. Tired jokes have become memes, and memes have become tired jokes. But as far as camp media goes, it can be difficult to find those rare gems that have the perfect balance of trashiness, confusing plot lines, and bad writing. So I have made it my mission to find good camp media to share with you. My choices will always something examples that I personally have enjoyed, and I will try to convince you to love them as much as I do.
My first example is something I know a lot about: anime, or Japanese animation. It can be pretty camp in all its forms, but that’s not the primary reason I watch it. A lot of anime has a sophisticated storyline, beautiful animation, and liberal amounts of gore. The anime I want to highlight, Garzey’s Wing, tries to do all three. It’s the story of Chris, an average, modern, half-American, half-Japanese dude whose soul is abruptly spirited away to a the strange, prehistoric fantasy world of Byston Well and dropped into the middle of a slave rebellion. The leaders of the Metomeus tribe tell Chris that he has the mystical power of Garzey’s Wing, wings of light that appear at his ankles and give him the power to fly and run fast.
Although Garzey’s Wing is only a short three-episode OVA (for Original Video Animation, usually included with manga releases), the writers try to cram a convoluted story into a total run time of an hour and a half. Watching the English dubbing only makes the already elaborate and fast-paced plot more vague; moreover, the American actors who are trying to pronounce Japanese words and names and the awkward voice acting make for a chaotic and hilarious experience.
Garzey’s Wing was first released in 1996, when the animation and art style were moderately sophisticated, but time has made this anime seem low-quality and outdated. But while the antiquity of the style dates the show, it adds to its beauty: the show, and the art, have aged like a cheap wine. Garzey’s Wing wasn’t very good before, and it still isn’t very good now, but it has the reputation of being older and therefore is easier to swallow.
Before we go any further, I would like to extend a warning: not all anime is meant for children. A lot of it is gory, or psychologically disturbing, so make sure it’s appropriate before you let the kids watch it. In Garzey’s Wing, because Chris is dropped into a war-torn world with prehistoric war-beasts, the viewer knows to expect gore. Despite the animated blood, however, I often found myself laughing hysterically during the battle scenes. The action and the ridiculous dialogue were amusing enough to distract me from the mass slaughter of a tribe of bell-worshipers.
I’m still confused about what I actually watched. Even so, Garzey’s Wing is still a fun and funny watch. If you’re looking for something camp to enjoy over the weekend, this might provide a fun hour and a half!
“. . . I must do Qi, Spiritual Unification, and practice Zen!”
“I’m being chased by a real army!!!”
“Huh?! I know! I will do that here!”
“Please do so!”
--Christopher Chiaki to Christopher Chiaki in Garzey’s Wing
- Anna Lisa Goodman '18