Vintage Pulp Aug 18 2021
SEA YOU SOON
Sometimes just staying afloat takes everything you've got.


Every once in a while Nikkatsu Studios surprises us with a restrained and serious movie, and Jûhassai umi e, for which you see a poster above, falls into that category. In English it was called Eighteen Years to the Sea, and the long and winding plot starts when top science student Aiko Morishita sees fellow student Kaoru Kobayashi win a game of death against the leader of a motorcycle gang. The game is to see who can wade into the ocean farthest weighed down by rocks and not drown. Aiko gets all hot and crazy watching this macho contest, and later tries the same game with her friend Toshiyuki Nagashima. They only look like they're trying to commit suicide.

The weirdness is just beginning. When a student at Aiko's school jumps to his death from a building, she's not horrified, but fascinated. Aiko and Toshiyuki decide to play another game of death, this time with pills, each taking one at a time, not planning to die, but risking overdoses in the pursuit of... we're not sure. Call it the search for some sort of nebulous existential revelation. In any case, they do overdose, but both survive. Those around Aiko come to understand that she has a screw loose. Meanwhile Kaoru, whose macho contest against the gang leader was the trigger for all that has happened, starts dating Aiko's sister.

We'll stop there with the plot description. Suffice it to say that, via the circuitous route director Toshiya Fujita takes to reach his destination, viewers are reminded that life can be hard—apparently even for gorgeous young college students. We don't mean to be glib. It's just that for uncounted millennia someone from both our mother's and father's branches of the ancestral tree had to survive cold, predators, disease, injury, poverty, human malice, and more, generation after generation, just to have their genes culminate in our existence. We would never risk casting all that hard work and luck aside seeking a fleeting insight. But that's just us.
 
Fujita, on the other hand, clearly thought he had something deep to say. The running time alone tells you that—Nikkatsu movies were often just over an hour long, but this one unspools for almost double that length, clocking in at an hour and fifty minutes. That's a lot of ennui. A lot of ennui. But Jûhassai umi e is good. Maybe even very good. It premiered in Japan today in 1979.
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History Rewind
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
September 26
1934—Queen Mary Launched
The RMS Queen Mary, three-and-a-half years in the making, launches from Clydebank, Scotland. The steamship enters passenger service in May 1936 and sails the North Atlantic Ocean until 1967. Today she is a museum and tourist attraction anchored in Long Beach, U.S.A.
1983—Nuclear Holocaust Averted
Soviet military officer Stanislav Petrov, whose job involves detection of enemy missiles, is warned by Soviet computers that the United States has launched a nuclear missile at Russia. Petrov deviates from procedure, and, instead of informing superiors, decides the detection is a glitch. When the computer warns of four more inbound missiles he decides, under much greater pressure this time, that the detections are also false. Soviet doctrine at the time dictates an immediate and full retaliatory strike, so Petrov's decision to leave his superiors out of the loop very possibly prevents humanity's obliteration. Petrov's actions remain a secret until 1988, but ultimately he is honored at the United Nations.
September 25
2002—Mystery Space Object Crashes in Russia
In an occurrence known as the Vitim Event, an object crashes to the Earth in Siberia and explodes with a force estimated at 4 to 5 kilotons by Russian scientists. An expedition to the site finds the landscape leveled and the soil contaminated by high levels of radioactivity. It is thought that the object was a comet nucleus with a diameter of 50 to 100 meters.
September 24
1992—Sci Fi Channel Launches
In the U.S., the cable network USA debuts the Sci Fi Channel, specializing in science fiction, fantasy, horror, and paranormal programming. After a slow start, it built its audience and is now a top ten ranked network for male viewers aged 18–54, and women aged 25–54.
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