No, that’s not a typo.
So everyone who has encountered me likely knows about my penchant for the 1985 Jeffrey Combs-starring Stuart Gordon film Re-Animator. Herbert West is one of my all-time favorite fictional characters—I adore the film version and have great affection for Lovecraft’s original “Herbert West – Reanimator”—but today I want to talk about a different Dr. Herbert West. I want to talk about … Reaninator.
I’ll be guest-lecturing on Lovecraft and the idea of fanfic/riffing/artistic use of his ideas/something for a class on Japanese Literature at CU this week (terrifying!). Whilst putting together my Re-Animator “case study” I learned about an anime called Demonbane (2006). The first episode is entitled “I am Providence.” Obviously I had to check it out, right?
I guess at one point Demonbane was one of those PC hentai games, then became a Playstation racing game (??) and then was serialized as a manga and an anime. Whatever; the important thing is that Demonbane has a bunch of weird riffing on Lovecraft (beyond just the titles of the episodes). For example, Our “Hero” Kuro Daijuuji lives in Arkham and was once a secret sorcery student at Miskatonic University. Also, through a sequence of events too insane to describe, in the first episode of the show he encounters Al Azif, the Necronomicon. She (yep, duh) looks like this:
INDEED! “Al,” as Daijuuji calls her, binds herself to him by kind of making out with him during a fight, because of course she does. Afterwards he can transform into Super Sayian Kuro Daijuuji and use a giant robot to fight cultists and stuff. It’s not all that important, really. Oh, and if you think Al Azif looks intriguing, you should definitely watch the show! The Pnakotic Manuscripts are also a subservient hot chick in a silly dress that seems designed purely to show flashes of panties! You know, I should really message Nate Pedersen about this. I haven’t seen a single reference yet to eldritch undies in The Starry Wisdom Library, but I guess it’s true that I haven’t read all the entries yet.
I’ve only watched the first four episodes so far, and it’s pretty much just fanservice and terrible CGI mechas battling each other for incomprehensible purposes. That said, the … let’s say 30% of Demonbane that isn’t fanservice and terrible CGI mechas is kind of cool. The main reason is that one of the minor villains is Dr. Herbert West.
As you saw above, this version of Herbert West is slightly different from other imaginings. I guess he is “Reaninator” as opposed to “Re-Animator” or “Reanimator,” but omg still. Yes, that is an electric guitar in his hand; he noodles on it constantly while talking immense amounts of shit, and the case also fires bazooka grenade things. That hot pantsless elf-eared girl by his side is his pet robot assassin. Her name is Elsa, she (in the grand tradition of EVERY ANIME) has a crush on Our Hero, and ends all of her sentences with “-robo” (included that detail just in case anyone wanted to quibble with my allegation that this show was essentially fanservice).
So yeah! Dr. West! Making robots! And guns? And not reanimating the dead, not at all, not once in four episodes! That said, he’s still Herbert fucking West. The source of Elsa’s crush on Daijuuji? He saves her during their first battle by snatching her out of the way of a missile, and she blushingly tells him that she’s never been held by a man before. Oh, Herbert. You would make a pantsless big-boobied gynoid elf-robot and then only use her for purposes of combat, wouldn’t you? Sure sure, long nights in the lab, not much time for yourself … whatever. We both know, and it’s okay, okay?
Anyways, the show is pretty amazingly terrible. If you want to go down the rabbit-hole, it’s on Youtube. Here’s Episode 3: Reaninator, but Dr. West does show up in the first episode. I’ll keep going with it, because despite my aversion to hokey nyuk-nyuk fantasy, I kind of love irreverent treatments of Lovecraft (as anyone who’s read my Lovecraftiana already knows). Have fun, don’t watch it at work probably, and enjoy!