Anime Roundup: October 20, 2014
World peace through shared popular culture, continued: A Qatari couple have just opened that nation's first manga store. Here's to hoping you folks get a Book-Off before long, too. You must be at least this tall to initiate the...

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'Claymore': The Beautiful And The Damned

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Rare these days is the series with an all-female cast where character, story, and drama are the goals, not titillation or eye candy

© NTV · VAP

'Berserk': War Is A Force That Gives Us Meaning

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Limited and fragmented as it is, this brutal fantasy still achieves wonders, thanks to the sheer strength of its storytelling and the force of its vision

© Satoshi Kon · MADHOUSE / PARANOIA AGENT COMMITTEE

'Paranoia Agent': We Have Met The Enemy And He Is Us

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The real monster in Satoshi Kon's genre-defying black comedy of horrors is human nature itself

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Does The Packaging Make The Fan?

Why deluxe packaging and other such marketing stunts may make it harder for fans to express their devotion, not easier -- and not just because of the pricetags

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We're now reaching a point in anime fandom where the distinction between the casual fan and the hardcore fan, the collector, is more pronounced than ever. A lot of this revolves around the industry finally reaching a point where a great many titles are available as streaming, on-demand, or legit downloads: for a few bucks a month, you have access to a far broader range of material than ever before. $120 box sets are still available, but they are by no means the only way in; you no longer have to buy all-in to fandom to experience it. And in the long run, that might be healthier for fandom as a whole, because it means the strength of one's fandom doesn't have to be gauged against ostentatious displays of consumption.

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© 1995 SHIROW MASAMUNE/KODANSHA · BANDAI VISUAL · MANGA ENTERTAINMENT

'Ghost in the Shell': The Dreaming Machine

Twenty-five years on, one of anime's seminal groundbreakers remains as alluring, intriguing, confounding, and problematic as ever

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It is not in the nature of a classic to be perfect. It is in the nature of a classic to be groundbreaking, seminal, influential, unforgettable. In the light of those achievements, formal perfection isn't required. All that matters is how the work in question has made its mark, whether for good or ill. Ghost in the Shell has left its deepest marks not across anime generally as something to be modeled after and inspired by (Evangelion is arguably the 900-pound gorilla there, at least as far as the 1990s go), but in the expectations a certain portion of anime fandom has for anime generally: Why can't it all be this good? But that's as unfair to Ghost in the Shell as it is to the rest of anime, and to the rest of anime fandom. As accomplished as Ghost is, it's still only a high-water mark for a single, rather narrow way in which anime can work. But all the same, what a high-water mark it is, for anime and for cinema generally.

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Why We Don't Need 'Objective' Anime Criticism

What's needed in anime criticism -- and in most any good criticism of art or entertainment -- is to lay our prejudices on the table first

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Sometime before Ganriki.org went online, I discussed with friends my approach for the project by running down a quick list of everything the site was not going to contain: no listicles, no linkbait headlines, and -- something that threw one friend of mine for a bit of a loop -- no star or numerical ratings for reviews. My rationale for that last decision was simple: these aren't buyer's guides, but conversations about the substance of the show. Once upon a time, in a previous gig, I'd tried to provide some hopeless semblance of buyer's-guide objectivity, but all that did was made me realize a bigger truth: You get more interesting conversations about these things when you quit pretending to be "objective".

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