Anime Roundup: July 1, 2015
FUNimation's got a live 'Titan'; Tokyopop's got a brand-new (and terrible) contract; and there's a good reason companies can't tell you if they have licensed a given title.

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©LEIJI MATSUMOTO,TOEI ANIMATION ©1978 TOEI ANIMATION CO., LTD.
© Shirow Masamune • Production I.G / KODANSHA • GHOST IN THE SHELL ARISE COMMITTEE

Making A Case For The Old School

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Is there any way to get around the prejudices of a modern audience that looks at a classic show and just sees something 'old'?

© 1988 MASHROOM / Akira Committee

The Live-Action 'AKIRA': Still A Movie Without An Audience

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Yet another attempt at a live-action 'AKIRA' has geared up, but the main problem remains: who would bother seeing it?

© YOUMEX/GAINAX

Anime's (Partly) Crowdfunded Future

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Direct financing of anime, both original works and the distribution of reissues, has just begun to show both its limits and its promise

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'Nobunagun': Shooting Blanks

Trippy visuals and a throw-it-all-in-the-pot storytelling style fall victim to incurious storytelling in this oddity

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"All you need for a movie is a gun and a girl," Jean-Luc Godard is reputed to have said. Nobunagun has the gun and the girl, but they couldn't stop there. It's an overstuffed pastry of a show, where for every one good idea there's a bad one, an underdeveloped one, and one that comes completely out of left field. The real crime of this is not that the show can't do justice to its own ideas, but that ideas it ought to do justice to — genuinely interesting and troubling ones — drift on just out of reach.

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© Masato Hisa/ EARTH STAR ENT./"Nobunagun Committee"
© 1993 Yoshiaki Kawajiri / Madhouse / Flyingdog / TOHO CO., LTD. / MOVIC INC.

'Ninja Scroll': Faster, Shinobi! Kill! Kill!

Sleek, stylish, violent, and sleazy, the visual flair of this '90s gateway title remains unmatched -- but it's a child of its time in ways that aren't all positive

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Ninja Scroll is about half of another incarnation of my argument that some of what we now call "classic" anime only earned the label because it was all we had at the time. Many of the anime titles the West cut its teeth on, back when anime was in its infancy, have not dated well. What seemed transgressive and groundbreaking back when the options were limited now just seems trite and nasty — not just because we have that many more options to choose from, but because it's become harder to swallow blithely some things in the name of entertainment.

I say half of another incarnation, because there's a good deal about Ninja Scroll that made it seem phenomenal in 1993, and which is still phenomenal: the dazzling animation (100% hand-drawn, 100% cel-painted); the baroque and creative action sequences; the way it reminded us of a time when a hit anime production could feature a cast of adults, not overgrown (or undergrown) adolescents. But what you could get away with in 1993 is not what you can get away with in 2015, and so if I celebrate Ninja Scroll it's because of its status as a milestone rather than as a full-blown classic.

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'Patlabor: The Movie': A Lesser Oshii's Labors

Before Mamoru Oshii bent our minds with the likes of 'Ghost in the Shell', he tickled our ribs with this lively entry in the action-comedy mecha series

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Mamoru Oshii is best known for being a cerebral and experimental director, but even he had to cut his teeth on more relatively humdrum stuff for openers. It's tempting to say that an artist's personality is present in every part of his work, even when he's doing his works for hire, and an argument can be made that back when he was working on things like one of the feature-film installments for the Urusei Yatsura franchise, Oshii was still Oshii, even if only in miniature. Patlabor: The Movie is definitely Oshii in miniature, in the sense that barring the most fleeting of elements, there's nothing that would lead anyone to know he had a hand in it.

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© 1989 HEADGEAR/Bandai Visual/TFC
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