demographic: seinen

See in alphabetical order

2017


'The Ghost In The Shell: Five New Short Stories'
A spry, classy set of riffs on the 'Ghost In The Shell' universe, drawing on characters we know and extrapolating from the setting at large, but newcomers to the franchise shouldn't make this their first outing with it
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Patreon 'Carried by the Wind: Tsukikage Ran': Crouching Tigress, Nitwit Dragon
It looks at first to be a mere genderswapped spoof of the samurai genre, but underneath it's actually a loving and observant homage to all the great things about those stories of lone wolves vs. corrupt power
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'Miss Hokusai': An Incomplete Portrait
With a potentially fascinating story about the daughter of the fabled artist Hokusai and some beautiful production design, it's a shame this unfocused and aimless film isn't better
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'Ghost In The Shell' (2017): The Americanization of Motoko
The most fascinating thing about the Western remake of 'Ghost In The Shell' is how what seemed most problematic about it -- Scarlett Johansson in the lead role -- is leveraged as a thematic element in the film itself
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'Osamu Tezuka's Metropolis': Little Robot In The Big City
In the hands of 'Akira' creator Katsuhiro Ōtomo and 'Dagger of Kamui' director Rintaro, Osamu Tezuka's early manga became a wide-gauge spectacle that retained its childlike innocence and soul
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'The Ghost In The Shell': Motoko Kusanagi, The Early Years
If you're a first-time reader of Masamune Shirow's manga, progenitor of a whole name-brand cyberpunk franchise, the original will be as striking for its slapstick and satirical jabs as it is for its vision of a future still coming true today
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'Ghost In The Shell 2: Innocence': Farewell, My Lovely
Everything that was both grand and frustrating about Oshii's original 'Ghost In The Shell' film is redoubled in its follow-up, a visionary work that neglects to give its characters their own voices
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Patreon 'The Tatami Galaxy': Have I Been In This Room Before?
When the director of 'Mind Game' and the author of 'The Eccentric Family' got together, they created a comedic masterpiece that plays like 'Groundhog Day' fused with both of those visionary projects
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'Blade Of The Immortal': But That's The Way I Like It, Baby, I Don't Want To Live Forever
With the first of the three-in-one reissues of Hiroaki Samura's epic fantasy about a nigh-unkillable assassin, there's never been a better time to rediscover one of manga's high points
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'Bungo Stray Dogs': Six (Or More) Authors In Search Of Some Character
'Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter' for the J-lit set; a show that has one great creative invention and then spends its entire runtime doing nothing of consequence with it
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Patreon Ways To The Heart: Four Manga Adaptations Of Sōseki Natsume's 'Kokoro'
Four manga adaptations of Sōseki Natsume's classic novel range from mere Classics Illustrated versions to a radical modern-day reinvention that rediscovers the story's heart of darkness
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'Izetta: The Last Witch': All This And World War II
A promising opening, an intriguing spin on an alternate version of recent history, a classy-looking production -- but it all crumbles no thanks to abysmal characterization and storytelling decisions
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2016


'Neji-shiki'/'Screwed': A Peek Into The Pit
How to film Yoshiharu Tsuge's landmark work of surrealist comics? Leave it to master of weirdness Teruo Ishii, albeit with mixed results
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'Barakamon': The Problem With Getting Away From It All Is You Always Take It All With You
Having a city slicker hit the sticks isn't an innovative story by itself, but 'Barakamon' has heart, humor, and some surprising insight into what makes creative people tick
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'Lone Wolf And Cub': The Boy And The Beast
Kazuo Koike's perennial manga classic was adapted for the big screen in this cycle of six pop-pulp masterpieces, where father and son slash, stab, shoot, and slice their way through hell
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'Ergo Proxy': I Think, Therefore You Are
Few anime intended for mainstream consumption are this avowedly experimental; fewer still pull it off to the degree this one does
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'Kingsglaive: Final Fantasy XV': The State Of One Of The Arts
As an introduction to the newest FF universe, it's perfectly adequate; as drama and storytelling, it's serviceable; as a technology demo, it's a triumph - much like the other FF films before it
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'The Fake': Closer To God
The follow-up from the director of 'King Of Pigs' is both more artistically accomplished and more emotionally scarring, an attempt to get us to care about someone who would otherwise never warrant our sympathy
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'Berserk' (2016): What Becomes Of The Brokenhearted?
The return of Kentarō Miura's violent fantasy epic to the little screen brings with it a fidelity to its strong characterization and powerful story -- and a renewed appreciation of all that was problematic the first time
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Patreon 'Aoi Bungaku: Kokoro': The Heart Of The Matter
Natsume Sōseki's unsentimental, heart-wrenching classic still hits hard a hundred years later; its Aoi Bungaku anime adaptation restructures it to intriguing if unsuccessful effect
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Let's Animate This: 'Dune'
Twice filmed, and twice flawed in the filming, maybe the wise way to bring Frank Herbert's space (and spice) saga to the screen would be via an anime adaptation
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'Harmony': To Extreme Remedies, Extreme Sickness
Project Itoh's 'medi-pocalypse' dystopia is all the more poignant in the wake of the author's untimely death, with a glossy (if also icy) anime adaptation now to accompany it
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Patreon 'Aoi Bungaku: Sakura No Mori No Mankai No Shita [In The Forest, Under Cherries In Full Bloom]': The Heart's Filthy Lesson
Ango Sakaguchi's classic story, a mix of 'farce, fable, and mystery' (and horror) is brought to life with outlandish style and color -- and always with one eye cocked towards its heart of darkness
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Tsutomu Nihei's 'Blame!': Sisyphus In The Labyrinth
Tsutomu Nihei's debut manga is all industrial hellscapes, sudden violence, and science-fiction gloom -- and in those few things it's everything it needs to be
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'Queen Emeraldas': Our Lady Of The Sea Of Stars
Leiji Matsumoto's pulp action / space opera stories are really a kind of SF-tingled mythology; his 'Captain Harlock' successor, now out in English, is a fine example
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'Empire of Corpses': Dead Man's Party
Label anything 'steampunk' and the label tends to take over, but this fantasy from the late lamented Project Itoh is about more than just clockworks and longcoats
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'Only Yesterday': All The Things I Was
Unseen in English since its original 1991 release, this Isao Takahata/Studio Ghibli production was more than worth the wait, and not just for its name recognition
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'Otaku no Video': Geeks4Life
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
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'The Boy And The Beast': You'll Be A Man, My Son!
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
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Patreon 'Aoi Bungaku: No Longer Human': The Man Without Qualities
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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'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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'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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'Ghost In The Shell: The New Movie': Only New On The Outside
In the end, all the 'Ghost in the Shell: ARISE' continuity has done is lead us right back where we started
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'Dimension W': One-Dimensional
Competent but ultimately tame, 'Dimension W' squanders an intriguing premise on a story that's more off-the-shelf than off-the-rails
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'Concrete Revolutio': They Could Be Heroes
A sprawling anime answer to 'Watchmen', with all of the ambition -- and all of the shortcomings -- implied by such a thing
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'Giganto Maxia': A Future Gone 'Berserk'
This one-shot side project from Kentarō ('Berserk') Miura promised an entirely different universe from that magnum opus. It's a shame we probably won't ever seen any more of it
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'Die Wergelder': A Taste Of Blood Money
After his samurai body-horror epic 'Blade of the Immortal', Hiroaki Samura now gives us a Nikkatsu-style, pulp-inflected action fable
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'Lady Snowblood': Revenge, Best Served Cold
A pivotal inspiration for Tarantino's 'Kill Bill', this violent revenge tale brings us an anti-heroine who's as much of an outsider for being a woman as she is for being an assassin
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2015


'Time of Eve': Domo Arigato, Mr. Roboto
The modest scale and gentle touch of this fantasy about androids with a human side are what make it work so well
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'Planetes': (Inner) Space, The Final Frontier
Before there was 'Gravity', there was 'Planetes', as significant for its psychological insight as for its vision of garbage haulers in a spaceborne future
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Patreon 'Rurouni Kenshin': For The New Age, A New Man
When the first film in this live-action trilogy is among the very best adaptations yet of an manga/anime property, we can forgive any weaknesses in the whole
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'Oh My Goddess!': Heaven Must Be Missing An Angel
Lightweight and frivolous as 'Oh My Goddess!' may be, those qualities might well also be what guarantee it can be reissued across the years and find an audience
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Patreon 'Kill la Kill': The Empress's New Clothes
Studio Trigger's rip-roaring follow-up to 'Gurren Lagann' embodied its intentions, by wearing a suit of style as gaudy and theatrical as the ideas it entertains
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'Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust': Beyond The Pale
Adapted from the third novel in the 'D' series, 'Bloodlust' tops its source material, the earlier animated 'D' film, and a good deal of the competition that's come along since
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'Vampire Hunter D': Wanted, Undead Or Alive
There's little question 'D' helped open anime to the West, but its status as an artifact of its moment in time has only become more stark over the years
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'Prophecy': Watching Big Brother Right Back
On the face of it, a techno-thriller in the Michael Crichton vein; underneath that, a meditation on the way society is shamed into doing the right thing
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'Knights of Sidonia', Season 2: Once More Into The Breach, Dear Pilots
The best parts of 'Sidonia' remain its visuals and its gut-wrenching combat sequences; it's a shame its human elements aren't quite as strong
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'Ping Pong The Animation': Tennis, Anyone?
Calling this a 'sports story' falls so far short of describing how its seething visuals tell a story that'll hit home with most anyone, ping-pong players or not
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'Darker Than Black': What They Do In The Shadows
With pieces borrowed smartly from across other entertainments, the 'X-Men meets X-Files' 'Darker Than Black' holds up well after nearly ten years
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'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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'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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'Noir': Killing At Their Own Pace
The deliberate pacing of this fantasy thriller is both its most important attribute -- and the one thing about it most likely to give pause to today's viewers
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'Space Dandy': The Cosmic Jester
This colorful slice of cosmic slapstick only looks dumb from the outside; it's one of the slyest fusions of comedy and science fiction anime has produced
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'Seraphim: 266613336 Wings': Oshii And Kon's Fragment
An unfinished but tantalizing collaboration between two of anime (and manga's) most idiosyncratic creative personalities, Satoshi Kon and Mamoru Oshii, this book inspires a close reading -- and no end of wonder about where one man's imagination began and the other one's ended
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'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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Usamaru Furuya's 'No Longer Human': The Downward Spiral
Osamu Dazai's despairing novel galvanized postwar Japan; Usamaru Furuya's modernized manga adaptation does justice to all its hearts of darkness
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Short Takes: 'Witchcraft Works Vol. 2'
Second verse of this fantasy-comedy, a bit less interesting than the first, as coincidence and contrivance take precedence over invention and storytelling
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'Ghost In The Shell: ARISE: Border 4: ghost stands alone'
With all four installments of 'ARISE' in place, the whole of it adds up to a breathless but superficial ride, lacking the soul and personality that dignified its predecessors
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'Opus': Satoshi Kon's Unfinished Symphony
Never finished and lost to time, Satoshi Kon's mini-epic about a manga artist caught in the interpenetration of reality and his imagination works both on its own terms as an adventure -- and as an unintentional metaphor for its creator's own career
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2014


'REDLINE': Faster Than The Speed Of Love
Even if the story's little more than a placeholder, 'REDLINE' seethes with visuals so propulsive and uninhibited, they alone guarantee it a place in anime history
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'Cowboy Bebop': Bohemian Rhapsody
Under 'Cowboy Bebop's rollicking humor and sassy action lives a question borne from the long dark night of the soul: are you living, or just existing?
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Short Takes: 'Witchcraft Works Vol. 1'
Magical hijinks in high school are the jumping-off point for this enjoyable story with no small amount of potential, but also unnecessarily confusing visuals
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'Hellsing Ultimate': Or, The Dracula-Vs.-Nazi-Vampire-Burning-London-To-The-Ground Blues
Looking back over this legendary and now-concluded OVA series, it's striking to realize how it all amounted to a great deal less than it might have seemed
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'Shiki': Human Monsters, All-Too-Human Monsters
The horror at the heart of this horror story lies in how it toys so adeptly with our understanding of 'human' and 'monster'
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'Claymore': The Beautiful And The Damned
Rare these days is the series with an all-female cast where character, story, and drama are the goals, not titillation or eye candy
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'Berserk': War Is A Force That Gives Us Meaning
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
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'Paranoia Agent': We Have Met The Enemy And He Is Us
The real monster in Satoshi Kon's genre-defying black comedy of horrors is human nature itself
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'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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'Ghost In The Shell: ARISE: Border 3: ghost tears'
Part three of 'ARISE' is an improvement on the first two installments, but the ineffable alchemy we saw before in the franchise still hasn't quite manifested itself
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'HAL': Are 'Lovers' Electric?
Even while this love story between a human and a robot is sincere and affecting, it's up to the audience to tell if it has one too many twists for its own good
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'Mononoke': To Extreme Sickness, Extreme Remedies
Long unavailable in anything but fansubs, this psychedelic horror-fantasy anthology is bewitching and intoxicating
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'Flowers of Evil': O Rose, Thou Art Sick
An overwhelming experience, and a finely crafted one, but also harrowing and unpleasant from beginning to end -- even if that's supposed to be the idea
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'Knights of Sidonia': For The World Is Hollow And He Has Touched The Sky
The first anime to be distributed exclusively on Netflix is dazzling and enjoyable enough to feel new, but plays it safe enough to go mainstream
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'Fusé: Memoirs of a Huntress': The Beauty Of The Beasts
A gorgeously-designed surface isn't all that's beautiful in this compelling reworking of elements from the classic tale of 'Hakkenden'
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'Nyaruko: Crawling With Love!': In Her House At R'lyeh, Cute Cthulhu Waits Giggling
Plenty of laughs ooze forth from this 'cute Cthulhu mythos' comedy, but it's most intriguing for how something so dark is made fodder for something so silly
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'Berserk: The Golden Age Arc III: The Advent'
The third of the 'Berserk' films brings us to the long-awaited end of the beginning, and reminds us the TV series still did some things totally right
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'Robotics;Notes': Hey, Gang! Let's Put Together A Giant Mecha!
Next to its cousin 'Steins;Gate' this sunny robo-fantasy bulks small, but it still supplies an entertaining ride
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'Psycho-Pass': Do Androids Dream Of The Silence Of The Lambs?
Somewhere between 'Blade Runner' and 'SE7EN' lies this show, which sees its dangerous ideas all the way through to the bitter and brilliant end
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'[C] - CONTROL': Money Is Not Our God
As money becomes increasingly abstract, from Bitcoin to bubble-bursting financial derivatives, this series becomes all the more prophetic and fascinating
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'Ghost In The Shell: ARISE: Border 2: ghost whisper'
The second installment in the 'Ghost in the Shell: ARISE' series eschews insight and thematic complexity for straight-up action
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'Ghost In The Shell: ARISE: Border 1: ghost pain'
Even if 'ARISE' falls short of the heights of 'Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex', it's still a model of ambition and vision for anime
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'Jormungand': A Bullet In The Head, Or Two In The Feet?
This poor man's 'Black Lagoon' embodies many of the problems inherent in a show about antiheroes and gray areas
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'Ikki Tousen': Another One Bites The Dust
It's dismaying when a show like this can barely even deliver the action and titillation it promises
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'Attack On Titan': Titanic, In Every Sense
One of 2013's best shows, which manages to both shoot itself in the foot and not be limited by that
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2013


'Last Exile: Fam The Silver Wing': Fly Me To The Moon
Steampunk, science fiction, fantasy -- does everything need a singular label? This show freely spans all those things, somehow without contradiction
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'AKIRA' At 25
How the anime that created an English-speaking audience for anime still divides those very same audiences decades later
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'Angel's Egg': Mood Indigo
Mamoru Oshii's enigmatic meditation on faith is an emotional work, not just an intellectual one
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'Berserk': Rebooted But Not Yet Reborn
For all its flaws, the original 'Berserk' anime had a gritty power the remake somehow lacks
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'Wolf Children': A Mother's Work
Mamoru Hosoda's story about two of the greater agonies a mother and a wife could endure is impeccably observed and emotionally true
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