Curio Corner: Rusty Nail
Today,we're going to review the clash of two of Japan's early 1990s keystones, hard rock band X Japan, and manga wunderkins, CLAMP. On paper, it sounds like a match made in heaven; androgynous pretty boys playing hard, emotive rock, whilst being decidedly homoerotic...collaborating with a manga group most famous for creating homoerotic manga mostly starring androgynous pretty boys. Execution wise...eh, not so much. What we thus get is a curio (and the start of a new series on these odd little nuggets of anime culture that don't really fit under any other banner); a mix of two major players in early 1990s popular culture bringing their B game to a post-apocalyptic mystical battle backed by slightly-above-average rock music. Is it pretty? Uh, kinda. Is it engaging? Uh, kinda. But, to be blunt, both parties in this, particularly CLAMP, could have done a lot better than this faintly ridiculous slice of early 1990s cheese.
To understand just how underwhelming Rusty Nail is as a PV, you need to look at what CLAMP, and X Japan were actually doing in 1994. CLAMP, for their part, were nearly two years into the colossal X/1999 (for which X Japan would later provide "Forever Love" for the animated film adaption), and it's the influence of this work that's particularly keenly seen in Rusty Nail, down to the flower motifs, the splintered friendship, with friend against friend, and the general use of superpowers. Alongside this was the fantastical series Magic Knight Rayearth, and largely forgettable yuri manga Miyuki in Wonderland.
So far, so disappointing. But one cannot judge animation, of any quality, merely from its character designs; to really show how underwhelming this is, we need to watch it. We begin with...feathers in the wind, scattering in time to the guitar, before zooming into Earth. Explosions! People running away! Eyeball monsters! From the monster's perspective, we then zoom in on Generic Girl. What eyeball monster wants to do with Generic Girl, we don't know, but she's clearly Important, despite it pretty much indiscriminantly murdering random people, including Generic Girl's mother. As a smaller eyeball monster bears down on her, and everyone cowardly hides, who will save her? A laser blast promptly dispatches it, along with a couple other monsters, and Generic Girl's rescuer is revealled, atop a rocky outcrop...JAPANESE HEAVY METAL. Or, more accurately, Toshi and Pata. Using the power of “punching it pretty damned hard”, Toshi prompty downs another mini-eyeball, lands in front of generic girl, whilst the rest of the band do what I can only describe as “that stupid-ass anime jumping thing”. Consoling Generic Girl, Toshi and...everyone else, including two people who are definitely not in the band and have probably just come to gawp, are promptly attacked by the eyeball's puppet, hide, who is, as previously mentioned, the joint best designed thing in this PV. Toshi, because he is a reasonable man, decides to use his usual tactic of punching things pretty damned hard, and promptly gets lasered to the face, flying backwards through buildings, and then lanced in the side.
Generic Girl cries, hide does his best magnificent bastard smirk, and we change scene to Generic Girl praying in a church, whilst Yoshiki wallops the piano a bit and Toshi does his usual “whispering over an interlude” bit. Toshi, back from his dunk in whatever restorative tank our heroes have to hand, is handed his sunglasses by Yoshiki (I think), and X Japan discuss strategies. hide casually flies across the moon, barges into the church, and Generic Girl is kidnapped whilst CLAMP desperately rummage in the Christian imagery bargain bucket, find bishounen Jesus, and shrug, showing a closeup of the cruxifiction, and thus taking the title of the song overly literally.
hide, evil Generic Girl kidapper he, is promptly ambushed by the rest of X Japan, who take out the small eyeball monsters. hide retaliates with killer tennis balls, knocks the band (including one member who appears to be armed with a supersoaker out and...we cut to space. For it seems Generic Girl's prayers to bishounen Jesus have been answered, just as it's about to eat her (at least I think it's trying to eat her). And that can mean only one thing. Epic guitar solo time. Jesus glows, removes himself from the cross, promptly merges with a blonde shirtless, rose armed, chain carrying, winged Yoshiki, and promptly kerbstomps hide, destroys his mask with a well thrown rose and thus returns the guitarist to normal. I am not making any of that up.
One moment whilst I let you collectively pick your jaw back up from the floor, dear reader. Ready to continue? Good. Yoshiki, seeing that his friend has been freed, prompty hadoukens the giant eyeball monster, thus freeing its human prisoners. He momentarily collapses, is spurred on by his friends, gives a smirk of pure awesome, becomes a glowing angel, and destroys the monster with the power of roses, thus revealling the rising sun and the band logo, before taking off into space. Generic Girl returns safely, everyone looks up into the sky and the song reaches its end.