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Anime Roundup: July 29, 2016
Massive reissues of 'Ghost in the Shell' and 'AKIRA' manga for 2017, 'Bleach' finally set to conclude; 'Macross' shows up on Amazon Prime.

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© GAINAX. Courtesy AnimEigo.

'Otaku no Video': Geeks4Life

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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

© 2015 THE BOY AND THE BEAST FILM PARTNERS

'The Boy And The Beast': You'll Be A Man, My Son!

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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

© Aoi Bungaku Production Committee

'Aoi Bungaku: No Longer Human': The Man Without Qualities

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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

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'Tokyo Tribe': Last Night A DJ Kicked My Ass

Sion Sono's freeform rap-stravaganza adaptation of the hip-hop turf-war manga splits down the middle between being silly fun and being too mindless for its own good

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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.

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© 2014 Tokyo Tribe Film Partners
© Rampo Kitan Club

'Rampo Kitan: Game of Laplace': Darker Than You Think

Edogawa Rampo's 'erotic-grotesque' horror stories are remixed for the (post)modern day in this sinister, surreal, and colorful adventure

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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.

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'A-JIN': Live, Die, Repeat

After 'Knights of Sidonia', Netflix and Polygon Pictures aim -- sucessfully -- for darker and harder-hitting territory

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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?

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© AJIN Production Committee
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