High priest in Aida / FRI 2-25-11 / 1988 animated action film set in 2019 Tokyo / Winner famous 1938 rematch / 16th-century assembly
Friday, February 25, 2011
AKIRA (アキラ) is a 1988 Japanese animated epic action film. It was written and directed by Katsuhiro Otomo, who based it on his manga of the same name. The film is set in a futuristic and post-war city, Neo-Tokyo, in 2019. The film's plot focuses on Shotaro Kaneda, a biker gang member, as he tries to stop Tetsuo Shima from releasing Akira. While most of the character designs and basic settings were adapted from the original 2182-page manga epic, the restructured plot of the movie differs considerably from the print version, pruning much of the last half of the manga. The film became a hugely popular cult film and is widely considered to be a landmark in Japanese animation and film. (wikipedia)• • •
Not sure how a puzzle with a word count this low (66) could be so lacking in longish, interesting fill. Big problem for me was finding the jokiness of the THE DIET OF WORMS (19A: 16th-century assembly) and IT'S FOR THE BIRDS (44A: Detractors' comment concering 19-Across?) pairing really corny. There's just not much else to admire here. I enjoyed the challenge — clues were devilishly clever at times — but the vast majority of answers are either ordinary or (less often) unpleasantly odd. The west felt particularly ugly to me, mostly because of the pile-up of regional answers. CANARSIE is going to be nuts to a non-New Yorker (32A: Brooklyn neighborhood), just as LAVAL (LA VAL?) will be to a non-Montrealer (23D: Montreal suburb), and AVILA ... well, that one I just inferred from knowing that there is a Saint Teresa of AVILA (34A: Kansas City university). But still, a Kansas City university? Does anyone outside K.C. know that? Elsewhere ... RAMFIS (7D: High priest in "Aida") is about the stupidest-looking name I've ever seen. I could Not believe it was right. I was delighted to see "AKIRA," which I love (in both its manga and anime forms), but I know most of you don't know it. No, you don't. I'm glad it's here, but it probably made the east a little hard for some folks.
I look at the rest of this grid and simply don't have much to say. Lucked out by knowing "AKIRA," ANITA (24D: Novelist Brookner), and IEOH straight off (though I spelled that last one IAOH for some reason) (44D: Architect ___ Ming Pei). Also saw right through the clue at 36D: Bench, for example (CATCHER), which ended up being a Big help in that nightmarish western region (got me PLATE, which helped me get both SCAMP and VALET ... ended up educatedly guessing that "A" at LAVAL / CANARSIE). Not many initial missteps, though did want ARID instead of SERE, and IDOL instead of ICON, and, oddly, TALC for CALM (confused my Beaufort scale with my Mohs scale). This puzzle was a worthy opponent, but not a particularly pretty one.
- 1A: Spice mix used in Indian cuisine (MASALA) — I felt certain that I had whatever this answer was in my cupboard, and I literally sounded out the first part just to get some letters in the grid. I think the spice I was thinking of was GARAM MASALA. I just plunked the M and A down and waited to see what would happen...
- 21A: Winner of a famous 1938 rematch (LOUIS) — as in Joe. This took me way too long. I had LOU-S before the answer ever dawned on me. Stupid RAMFIS. Rematch was against Max Schmeling.
- 5D: 1970s pinup name (LONI) — as in Anderson. I don't remember her as a pinup, but I guess she was ... Farrah Fawcett and Cheryl Tiegs are the pinups I remember best from that era.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
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