Friday, 12 July 2013

Re-Agitator - A Decade of Writing on Takashi Miike

FAB Press' second book about Takashi Miike which arrived in April this year seems to have come and gone with little comment from the fan community. This may be due to the book's title, a clever riff on author Tom Mes' previous Miike book, Agitator: The Cinema of Takashi Miike but I suspect the similar titles will lead to some confusion. A shame considering Re-Agitator makes for a fine introduction to the work of the Japanese maverick, and in this respect is superior book to its 2003 predecessor. Re-Agitator collects together in one useful volume a wide range of Mes' writing on Miike, from DVD liner notes, magazine and web articles, foreign language publications (Italian and Croatian no less), and some previously unseen writing. In contrast to Agitator which tended to plod along with scholarly dissections of Miike's films (which at the time were hard to see), the writing in this new volume is compact, enthusiastic, and spoiler-free for new comers, the majority of the films covered in the book readily available on DVD on both sides of the Atlantic. My favourite chapter in the book, entitled Generation V: Takashi Miike and the Wild World of V-Cinema (which originally appeared in an Italian anthology) is a fascinating account of Japan's once thriving direct-to-video industry which in part shaped Miike's avant-garde approach to otherwise conventional scripts. Miike shot the majority of his early films on 16mm which were then transferred to VHS, which accounts for the bland visual quality of these early films, but as Mes explains, these films which exist solely on videotape are becoming increasingly hard to find, such is the lack of conservation for these DTV productions in Japan.

At 160-pages, Re-Agitator is a slim book and can easily be read in two or three sessions, but this being a FAB Press production, it is of course a handsome looking, beautifully laid out and filled with high-quality color stills. The book is limited to just 1000 hardback copies (the first 200 were signed by Miike and Mes, my copy is #80) so if you're anyway curious about the cinema of Takashi Miike, this is an excellent entry point. Order the book direct from FAB Press, impeccable customer service and delivery is guaranteed.

 A page from Re-Agitator chronicling Miike's Masters of Horror episode, Imprint

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