Notes from the Outside: Where is Hannibal Lector?

by Matt Houck

The brain. It aches.

The TV is off after a four-day bender of anime for this column for you, the loyal readers. The needle from the last intravenous caffeine drip is still hanging limply from my arm as I begin to relay to you my findings, which come to you in the form of a question: why are anime villains so damn pretty?

I started this column by renewing my love affair with Cowboy Bebop (dubbed of course, because God was an Englishman). I watched the first four episodes without incident, then he appears... Vicious, one of the best "classic" villains of anime. Yet when I watched "Ballad of the Fallen Angels", episode five, I notice something. When the wife utters the phrase "Damn, he's sooooo fine!!!!", I look again, and yup, he is a sexy, sexy man. I mean, here is a world-class killer, but when I look at him, all I can see is someone who must have spent an hour on his hair. So I must ask, where did all the ugly villains go? Where is the Hannibal Lector? Where is the horribly disfigured Darth Vader? Why do anime creators equate evil with beauty?

I ask the wife this and duck the furniture she throws at me for asking such a profane question.

At hour thirty-six, the pretty boy phenomenon rears its perfectly coifed head; this time in the form of the antagonist in the early discs of Last Exile. The white-clad heads of The Guild are not just "pretty", but damn near androgynous and pretty creepy.

Weirded out by this sudden development, I took a two-hour hentai break, where the villains are pretty, but then again, they as supposed to be. They're also supposed to force the female protagonists into non-consensual sexual situations with Cthulu-esque tentacle-clad demons, which oddly enough, gives me a warm fuzzy feeling in a way that I can't explain.

Out of tissue, I return to normal anime. At the start of Day Three, I am forced to endure Ikki Tousen, and the Pretty Villain takes on a new fetish... flowers... the hell?!? Would Kaiser Sose arrange flowers? Would Lex Luthor cultivate a rose garden? This is too much. Thoughts of Freddy Kreuger with a glove full of tulips follows me into a light coma.

Awakening twelve hours later from a disturbing dream involving Vicious and Martha Stewart trying to redecorate my apartment, I hunt the wild cheese and pepperoni beast and begin an old anime standard where I know the villain is ugly and evil --The Japanese Government and a mutating teenager named Tetsuo. Akira ends this rant in a happy, if still confused state (like California, but different). A final thought: people, evil is ugly and scars look cool on villains, but as long as the villains don't try to pick a china pattern for me, I will continue to give you, my flock, a view from the outside.

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