My love for Duran Duran’s anime-inspired “Careless Memories” video, the one that was projected above the stage during the Astronaut tour, is deep, abiding, and well documented. So it was with a great sense of joy that I became aware of the existence of a second, more obscure Duranime video, this one for “Nice,” a track off of the 2004 Astronaut album. As with “Careless Memories,” the “Nice” Duranime is the brainchild of artistic designer Gary Oldknow, a frequent Duran Duran collaborator, with artwork from Japanese-British illustrator Fumio Obata and artist/designer Ai Hasegawa.
Why do I love the Duranime videos so much? Simply put, they combine two of my great passions: the ridiculously outsized glamour of Duran Duran and the dedicated evil-fighting teamwork of old-school anime series like Voltron or Yoroiden Samurai Troopers. The combination is nothing short of magical.
As the video opens, all five Durans—Simon, John, Nick, Roger, plus wayward son Andy—pull up outside a fancy nightclub in a limousine, whereupon they’re immediately ambushed by paparazzi. Once inside the club, which is populated by martini-swilling sleek young things, they’re bombarded by autograph seekers. Nick’s speculative side-eye at the stylish young lady asking for his autograph is an especially deft artistic touch.
Disaster, as always, dogs the Durans. They’re promptly set upon by a gaggle of miscreants dressed in 1970s gangster chic—platform shoes, bellbottoms, trench coats, suits with wide ties—who whip out guns and open fire on them. Without missing a beat, Simon begins fiddling with his belt button, which is emblazoned with the enigmatic double-Z symbol the band used as an icon during their Seven and the Ragged Tiger stage, most prominently in the “New Moon on Monday” video. If you’ve seen the “Careless Memories” anime video—and you should see it, you really, really should—you know that this action signifies an unleashing of cool Duran superpowers. You’re probably bracing for a burst of extreme violence and gratuitous bloodshed.
But! No bloodshed is forthcoming! This is a kinder, gentler Duranime than “Careless Memories.” In keeping with the song’s title, Duran Duran’s response to the outburst of violence is—wait for it—nice. First, the Durans all begin to radiate with glowing golden energy, like they’ve suddenly flipped into Super Saiyan mode. I’ve compared Simon to a Dragon Ball character before, so this all rings pretty true.
Simon, who is a heartbeat away from going full-tilt Goku, gravity-defying hair and all, grabs a handy disco ball, charges it up with his magical glowing power, and hurls it like a bowling ball at a gun-toting goon. The goon goes down in a shower of glitter.
Remember in the “Careless Memories” anime how a surprisingly lethal and bloodthirsty Roger would sort of offhandedly embed his skulls into the brains of attacking ninjas? This is a kinder, gentler, nicer Roger. He hurls a cymbal, which shoots out magical rainbow beams. Upon being struck by the beams, a line of attackers turn into sparkly disco dancers clad in rainbow-colored suits. I dig the whole seventies vibe to this video. The Durans are trying to heal the world through disco and glitter, and I for one am here for it.
As in the “Careless Memories” video, Nick is flanked by a formidable duo of cool chesty babes, who fend off attackers by whacking them with their evening bags. As delighted as I am to see Nick’s chesty babes again—and I really, truly am delighted to see them; they’re the Angels to his Charlie, the Bambi and Thumper to his Bond villain, the Dawn to his Tony Orlando—I give the edge to their appearance in “Careless Memories,” in which they gouge out the eyeballs of ninjas with the heels of their stiletto boots. Whacking miscreants with handbags is a definite step backward.
Good old Andy (hey, Andy, ‘sup?) uses his guitar as a bat and smacks a glittery disco ball into a crowd of attackers. Andy, a scowling and malevolent specter, slouches and lurks his way through these two anime videos without ever cracking a smile or taking his sunglasses off. I mean… it’s a cartoon. It would’ve been just as easy to draw a version of Andy who didn’t seem to be consumed with spite and wracked with self-loathing about his participation in these videos, but I appreciate the animators’ commitment to verisimilitude.
One of the goons whips out an outsized cordless phone and calls for help. Backup comes in the form of a kaiju-style creature with a gigantic lizard body and a mechanical eyebeam. It uses the eyebeam to blast the sleek club kids with a ray that turns everything and everyone dull and gray.
Upon being struck by the kaiju’s eyebeam, the goons turn into vintage creature-feature monsters—Frankensteins, Creatures from the Black Lagoon, and this quartet of darling Nosferatus here:
The creatures converge on the Durans on the street outside the club.
Facing a standoff with impossible odds, the Durans flash their signet rings, each of which is emblazoned with a single letter. All five rings spell out DURAN in glowing rainbow hues, as befitting a squad of pop superstars-slash-superheroes. I feel like my higher purpose in this world is to write an action-packed animated series in which Duran Duran battle supernatural forces while wearing fabulous outfits, sipping multicolored cocktails, romancing chesty babes, and snorting lines of glittery pixie dust. Contact me, Durans, and we’ll hash out the details; I’m willing to forgo an advance in exchange for cool swag.
When joined together, the DURAN signet rings beam a glowing rainbow beacon into space, where it catches the attention of a fleet of flying saucers emblazoned with the legend INTERGALACTIC FAN CLUB. The flagship UFO is captained by a tiny, glamorous, spacesuit-clad clone of Nick. The entire ship, in fact—and presumably every UFO in the whole fleet—is crewed exclusively by dozens of identical Nick clones. In a video chock full of dazzling little bits of genius, this is the most magnificent and soul-stirring part, and if I didn’t know better, I’d think it was all a glorious fever dream I once had after drinking too much champagne while pounding back episodes of Kidd Video.
Back down on earth, Nick, who appears to be in command of the entire clone army, communicates with the spaceship via some kind of control panel strapped to his wrist, whereupon the spaceship opens fire on the monster. I feel like there’s a lot to unpack here about Nick commanding thousands of militaristic galaxy-hopping Duran-worshipping clones of himself.
At Nick’s signal, the spaceship disgorges a gargantuan amount of glitter, rainbows, and butterflies; I can only imagine the lack of unicorns was an accidental oversight. All monsters, large and small, vanish in a flurry of glitter and butterflies; the club kids break out of their cold, gray, monster-induced existence and become bright and colorful once more.
The five Durans look triumphant yet resolute, geared for whatever disaster might be thrown their way next.
Dear Duran Duran:
Here is all my money. Please make one of these videos for every single one of your songs. Thank you very much.
Hugs and kisses,