Crisis Jung (Baptiste Gaubert and Jérémie Hoarau, 2018) – Ithaca Fantastik 2018

A MAELSTROM OF METAPHYSICAL MAYHEM AND LIBIDINAL LUNACY

Welcome to a world ravaged by explosions of violence, a wasteland without love. Jung, the broken-hearted hero of legend, embarks on an epic quest to reunite with his lost love Maria who was savagely decapitated by the enormous titan Little Jesus. Along his bloody path, Jung finds allies in a bearded maiden, a massive cannibal, and a mysterious drifter and faces challenges in Little Jesus’ minions, encounters that force Jung to face deep questions that oppose his preconceptions of others and, more importantly, his understanding of himself. Armed with the mastery of “ten big punches” and the transformative power of “VIOLENCE,” can Jung subdue the monstrous virtues of Little Jesus, save his fair Maria, and fulfill his legacy? Find out in ten easy episodes.

Produced by renegade French animation studio Bobbypills, Crisis Jung is a perversely entertaining riff on 1980s children’s adventure-fantasy animation, one that imbues its grandiose conflicts and easy moral lessons with pansexual twists and body horror trauma.

Special Edition Contents:

  • High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation
  • DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
  • French and English audio tracks
  • Behind-the-scenes featurette
  • Complete storyboards
  • Stills gallery
  • Feature trailer
  • FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Collector’s booklet featuring production design artwork and new writing by illustrator and programmer Rupert Bottenberg

Produced by Bobbypills, a self-described “animation studio in Paris full of depressive, beautiful, fucked-up people making cartoons for depressive, beautiful, fucked-up people,” Crisis Jung is a wild, intensely violent, monstrously sexual web series developed exclusively for the Blackpills streaming platform. A follow-up to Vermin, a sleazy buddy cop series set in a world of insects, and Peepoodo & the Super Fuck Friends, a sex-ed program “for children over 18” that features anatomically correct anthropomorphic animals, Crisis Jung carries on Bobbypills’ reputation for cheeky transgressiveness, making it an easy MMC! favourite of the 2018 Ithaca Fantastik and a natural title to imagine receiving the Arrow Video treatment. So strap in for prepubescent fantasy adventure and strap on for post-pubescent polymorphous perversity!

Crisis Jung opens with the idyllic love of Jung and Maria destroyed by the screaming hell-missiles of demonic titan Little Jesus, transforming their bucolic existence into a barren, purple wasteland. Even worse, Little Jesus picks Maria’s head off of her body, using it as the cornerstone to his “Palace of Suffering” and flicking her body to the farthest regions of his arid wastes. Jung becomes the “Hero with the Broken Heart,” a prophetic figure ordained to save the world from Little Jesus’s oppression using “the Way of Ten Big Punches” and his ability to transform into a muscular she-beast. With the help of the bearded maiden Mary Magdalene, the cannibal giant Thunder Dominique, and the sly drifter Rick Briel, Jung slides across a literal road of blood to battle Little Jesus’ chainsaw-dicked minions and an array of Cronenberg-like boss monsters created from their master’s fresh excrement, bringing him ever closer to Little Jesus (and to psychic wholeness).

Crisis Jung takes its structural inspiration from boys’ fantasy-adventure cartoons like Thundercats and Masters of the Universe, animated series that featured courageously muscular figures defeating monstrous adversaries, justifying their violent content with a moral lesson and relying on limited animation techniques that were most celebrated in a heroic transformation sequence. Writers Baptiste Gaubert and Jérémie Périn queer this formula (for the most part) by having Crisis Jung‘s impoverished women appear as bearded men, having its hero “power-up” into a massive-breasted, female ‘roid-warrior, and generally presenting sex-forward, anatomically slippery content. Irony figures heavily in the web series as well, undercutting Crisis Jung‘s grandiosity with ornate silliness – Jung’s repeated declaration, “I call upon VIOLENCE!”; locales like the “the Abyss That Can’t Be Gotten Around” and “the Bridge of Bitterness;” Little Jesus’ “Mechanism of Terror” (essentially a toilet that collects his hot pink excrement into an “Egg of Suffering” that will eventually transform into a monster tasked to defeat Jung). The most incisive irony in Crisis Jung rests in its mockery of the moral lesson of these earlier children’s programs, originally designed as compensation for the violence and crass commercialism rooted in these half-hour toy advertisements. Jung wraps up each episode with a poem contemplating the “virtue” he has just vanquished (in the form of Little Jesus’s monsters, like Tenderness and his killer hugs or Tolerance and his “Fist of Forgiveness”) but has also learned to appreciate as a personal quality (such as by absurdly accepting the cuisine of a cannibal as a demonstration of diversity and tolerance).

Made up of 10 episodes and clocking in at 70 minutes, Crisis Jung is sometimes criticized as repetitive for those binge-watching the web series, but this is its central gag – distilling the action-fantasy cartoon down to its barest essentials and then rapidly pushing it through 6-or-so minutes like pink goo through Little Jesus’ anus. Each episode sees roughly the same formula: poop, Egg of Suffering, new monster, Jung defeated, Jung caught by a giant stone hand and obtaining advice from a mysterious therapist, transformation, battle, and victory. With One Piece like esprit, Jung’s insights are borne from bizarre conclusions and his victories are achieved by ever more inventive (and repellant) physical feats. Once completed, Jung travels on toward his goal having helped no one and likely having left the situation worse than when he left it. There is no room in Crisis Jung for help or empathy (notwithstanding Jung’s false promises to return to imprisoned or maimed children) and when one episode manages to leave most of this formula offscreen, it only brings into focus the ridiculousness of the program’s entire enterprise.

Crisis Jung is beautifully animated, clean and fluid, demonstrating its European roots and evoking in its designs the originality and boundary-pushing approach of the French comics anthology Métal hurlant. Those looking for anime comparisons may find connections in Fist of the North Star, the work of Go Nagai, or the manime of the ’80s and ’90s. Arrow Video’s forays into animation have been relatively infrequent, particularly with regard to horror-related titles, and the exclusivity of the Bobbypills content to the Blackpills platform may make it an unlikely candidate for a hard media release in the short-term, but we’re convinced that this strange concoction of sex, violence, epic fantasy, and body horror is perfect for Arrow Video. Get going, sissies!

Credits: The proposed cover summary is based on the Bobbypills website description of the series and Rupert Bottenberg’s summary for the 2018 Fantasia International Film Festival. Bottenberg acts as director of Fantasia’s Axis animation section, making him a great choice for an Arrow Video essay.

This post owes debts to reviews by Arno Kikoo, Jason Dupuis, Nick Allen, and the site Comic Book Nerds Are Hot. Big thanks also to Ithaca Fantastik. The festival wraps up tonight but there will be more coming at MMC! on IF’s best and brightest films!

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