Anime Roundup: March 4, 2015
Theatrical anime comes a cropper in Japan, mainland China gets its fandom on, and Takahata talks his post-'Kaguya' project.

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© 2013 Hatake Jimusho – GNDHDDTK

On 'Princess Kaguya's Lack Of An Oscar

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What if the real meaning of 'Kaguya's Oscar loss is that we should stop waiting for validation from all the wrong places?

© Nibaraki - GNN

'Porco Rosso': A Red Pig On The Wing

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With this pre-WWII adventure, Hayao Miyazaki gave audiences young and old both a rollicking romp and a thoughtful drama, both in complement and not conflict

© Haruka Takachiho / Studio Nue · Sunrise

Let's Film This: 'The Dirty Pair'

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After the slam-bang cosmic comedy of 'Guardians of the Galaxy', why not a live-action adaptation of the misadventures of those two interstellar troubleshooters?

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'Pom Poko': An Imitation Of Life

It's easy to overlook how many layers of meaning there are in Studio Ghibli's bawdy, raucous tale of shapeshifting raccoons holding out against human encroachment -- especially when you're laughing this hard

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The best things in any medium are always gloriously polyfaceted. Cowboy Bebop didn't rocket to the top of many peoples' all-time-greatest lists just because it was any one thing, but because it was many things at once — hilarious, gritty, tragic, visionary, memorable — and because it was all of those things at once with no contradiction between them. The same goes for Pom Poko, which racks up its own list of adjectives: bawdy, funny, angry, satirical, thought-provoking, and elegiac —  all at the same time, and all without stepping on its own toes. Miracles do happen.

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© 1994 Hatake Jimusho - GNH
© Mamoru Oshii/Bandai Visual · Production I.G

'Jin-Roh: The Wolf Brigade': I Therefore Am No Beast

The best Mamoru Oshii film that Oshii never directed remains affecting and relevant fifteen years later

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When Pier Paolo Pasolini dared to tell his fellow Italian leftists that the police were just as much victims of the police state as the students they clashed with, he was making a point few people wanted to agree with, let alone think about. Police states are not built and run by robots, but by human beings, and every time we forget this fact we not only lose sight of how to roll back police stateism, but we forget that within each one of us is a cop — and a criminal — waiting to get out. Give any of us a good reason to divide ourselves off from our fellows, to hide behind a riot shield or throw a Molotov cocktail, and we will teach ourselves to think that not only are the guys on the other side that much less human, but that any of us are, anywhere.

Jin-Roh is about a man who stubbornly refuses to see the other side as inhuman, but is in the wrong place, the wrong line of work, the wrong lifetime to do so. I was tempted to say this is uncommonly impassioned material for Mamoru Oshii, since many of his works tend to tilt towards the icy and the intellectual (Ghost in the Shell), but there are just as many others that are cries from the heart (Angel's Egg). Under all of its grim violence and eminence-grise political machinations, Jin-Roh is a cry from the heart. 

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'Paradise Kiss': There's More To Love Than Boy Meets Girl

Far more than just a 'romance' or a 'love story', this is a story about becoming worthy of being loved -- and a sprightly, funny story at that

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It’s been said that genres are reading instructions. A book bearing the label science fiction earns certain exemptions of tone and content right out of the gate that a book labeled fantasy or romance or literary fiction does not. Romance is a label we associate freely with broad brushstrokes of emotion (e.g., hate-that-is-actually-love), coincidence, and a great many other things we’d only tolerate in small doses, if at all, in something not sporting that label. In other words, a genre is a label for a specific kind of suspension of disbelief, and that may explain why many people turn their nose up at certain genres.  It’s a shame, because within any genre there is always the possibility for happy accidents and lively discovery.

The very best of shojo manga operates, at least at first, in territory I might never have walked into under my own power. Case in point: Ai Yazawa’s Paradise Kiss. It begins and remains firmly in romance territory, but that label doesn’t come to work against it. If anything, the story ennobles the label. This is one of those stories where people who are a bit prickly on the outside but basically good on the inside learn how to selectively shed the eccentricities they used to keep the world at bay, and let someone else’s sunshine in. None of this comes without a few bumps, of course, and half the fun is watching the people in question hit those bumps and bang their heads on the ceiling.

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