June 25, 2006
The x-rated animated movie "Aachi & Ssipak" finally has its domestic release on June 28. With a title combining a Korean world for "bum" and a term of abuse, it took some eight years for the movie to hit the screen after it was first conceived, director Jo Beom-jin says. The production team braved financial and other hardships in sticking to one principle: Forget about sending a message or educating the public. Fun is the only thing that matters in this movie. The posters duly warn, "This movie is unsuitable for teenagers, pregnant women and those with heart trouble," but even mature and physically fit viewers for whom etiquette and courtesy are important values need to think twice before out seeing the movie.
The fact that it took eight years to release "Aachi & Ssipak" reflects how the animated movie industry has been suffering. When a three-minute flash animated clip offered audiences a sneak preview in 2001, it attracted three million Netizens, with the movie originally scheduled for release at the end of 2002. But other animated films such as "My Beautiful Girl, Mary" (2001) and "Wonderful Days" (2003) flopped despite huge expectations, and distributors suddenly considered animated movies box office poison. Kim Seon-ku, a producer, said, "Only people who were willing to go without food and withstand the situation were there and endured all the hardships."
In the futuristic world imagined in the movie, homosexuals are the target of criticism not because of their sexual orientation or their minority status but because human feces are the sole energy source of the world, which makes gays guilty of "illegally perverting the purpose of the human anus and misusing it." That is the unappetizing premise.
The dystopian city where the protagonists live "controls" its citizens’ anuses for stable energy supply and rewards "outstanding" citizens who move their bowels frequently with addictive popsicles. As a result, the city is awash with addicts. In this climate, Aachi (voiced by Ryu Seung-beom) and Ssipak (Lim Chang-jung) want to take advantage of Ippeuni or "beautiful girl" (Hyun-young), who passes more than a dozen stools a day, to set up a popsicle cartel. Bojagi ("wrapping cloth") King (Shin Hae-chul), who is infertile because of his popsicle addiction, leads efforts to hunt down the three, who set off on an oddball journey to escape.
The movie is the product of an off-the-wall imagination new to mainstream animated movies here that promises a great deal of fun for audiences. "Aachi & Ssipak" mixes ironic fairy tale elements to depict a wholly imaginary world with sci-fi elements to reflect the problems of modern society through a future society, and hentai elements depicting explicit sexual acts. Of course, the movie owes much to irreverent American animation like "Beavis and Butthead" and "South Park", but its characters are original and its action sequences stunning. What’s more, Ryu and Lim perfectly inhabit the profane protagonists, who ‘eff and blind’ their way through the 90 minutes running time. The movie’s success will depend on how receptive audiences will be to its leftfield style. Few of them, in any case, will deny that the movie represents a new departure for Korean film.