GAINAX's satire/mockumentary is fascinating as a time capsule from its moment in fandom history, but most of its insights are inadvertent — that is, when it's not just being downright cruel
Mamoru Hosoda's new film starts as a predictable story of irreconcilable opposites forced to work together, but becomes something more ambitious and challenging — and worth sticking with despite its narrative bumps
The first of the 'Aoi Bungaku' animated adaptations of classical Japanese literature is a keen, well-devised adaptation of Osamu Dazai's novel of downfall and decadence
The ostensible point of Tokyo Tribe, a (very) loose adaptation of the manga of the same name, is that it's supposed to be a mess — a gaudy, noisy, 200-pound disco ball of a movie, a J-rap-fueled, 21st-century Warriors. It's loaded with color, noise, movement, attitude, and braggadocio, and a movie with nothing but those things can be a lot of fun — for a while, anyway. Tribe works with every ounce of its furiously beatboxing heart to not be taken seriously, and that ends up being both enjoyable and counterproductive.
His real name was Hirao Taro, but Japan knew him as Edogawa Rampo, his pen name a phonetic homage to the Edgar Allan Poe whose work he admired. Like another Japanese author with a morbid and surreal bent, Yumeno Kyūsaku, Rampo's work has been filmed many times before as live-action. (Check out the morbidly fascinating anthology production Rampo Noir, starring Japanese alt-heartthrob Tadanobu Asano, or the Walter Mitty-esque The Mystery of Rampo.) But Rampo's work hasn't been adapted into animation much at all — a strange omission, since Rampo's nervy, dreamy, uneasy storytelling seems a natural for a medium that so freely leverages the viewer's suspension of disbelief.
Ursula K. LeGuin once wrote a short story — more a thought experiment, really — called "The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas", about a world where all are happy and well-provided for, under the sole condition that a single child be kept in perpetual misery and squalor. A-JIN: Demi-Human opens with a common fantasy trope (there are people among us who are functionally immortal) and, by degrees, backs into the same kind of troubling territory as "Omelas".
Consider. If human society had a supply of beings that could be perpetually resurrected in perfect health after suffering any number of indignities, wouldn't that be a useful way to test drugs, harvest organs, provide emotional scapegoats? But would the gains to the whole be worth the degeneracy involved in setting up such a plan? And what happens when those scapegoats decide to take up guns and blow out their tormentors' brains?