In the end, all the 'Ghost in the Shell: ARISE' continuity has done is lead us right back where we started
Competent but ultimately tame, 'Dimension W' squanders an intriguing premise on a story that's more off-the-shelf than off-the-rails
You heard right - a Japanese live-action version of the now-classic manga and anime property is coming our way, with all kinds of interesting implications in tow
At the heart of any truly great artist is a set of obsessions that function as a two-edged sword. They can drive the artist to find truths from within that others would never seek, but they can also limit that artist to jogging endlessly around the perimeter of the same track forever. I am hard-pressed to say whether Mamoru Oshii is a) obsessed or b) just plain out of ideas, but with Garm Wars: The Last Druid, Oshii's most recent live-action feature, I'm edging towards the second conclusion. It isn't that the movie is bad, although that's arguably true; it's that it's redundant. Oshii's said all this before, better, many times.
Garm Wars (what a lamentable title) plays like someone created a Mamoru Oshi storytelling program and front-loaded it with all of his usual subjects — a suitably exotic setting, the nihilism of perpetual warfare, the significance of personal memory, basset hound mascots. The program then spat out a Markov Chain assemblage of those pieces, all recycled from his previous works in some manner. Nothing in this film convinced me Oshii is interested in testing these concepts, or expanding on them, or re-examining them in new lights. He's just jacketing them in new clothing and jugging them in new wine bottles.
When Osamu Tezuka's most notable work began to appear in English for the first time thanks to Vertical, Inc., I compared Tezuka's status in the West to Walt Disney being known only for Snow White but not for any of the other work done either by him or his production house. Bringing Tezuka's work into English would close that gap, so such an effort mattered for the sake of history alone. But in talking about Tezuka's work, it was tempting to wax not just ecstatic but hagiographic, to see any Tezuka back in print as being above reproach and worthy only of discussion as a sacred artifact instead of as a living work with merits, flaws, and points of discussion.
Now we're faced with an analogous problem with Yoshiki Tanaka's Legend of the Galactic Heroes, a mammoth space-opera franchise that kicked off in Japan in 1979 and remained all but unknown, and untranslated, outside the country for decades. The sheer size of the franchise, and its sheer unavailability, created around it a mythic stature that would be hard for anything to live up to, or live down. With the first volume finally released in English thanks to VIZ's Haikasoru imprint, the challenge I've faced has been to bear all this in mind and not be intimidated by it — to think of LotGH as if it were something new and not something old. Most audiences won't have this problem; for them, ignorance might well be the better part of bliss, because they'll have the pleasure of discovering a good example of how a big story can also be, at heart, a simple and strong one. And they'll have the pleasure of discovering a good story, period.
Use the word "ambitious" to describe a creative work, and you typically mean something positive. The people behind it have something on their mind, and they seek to embody those ideas in a work that aims to do more than merely entertain. Concrete Revolutio has so much ambition to burn, it almost self-immolates. But how bright and colorful the fire!