meta: Science Fiction

See in alphabetical order

2017


'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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'Gantz: O': Kill, Die, Repeat 
'Gantz' was never long on story to begin with, and so this new adaptation, an eye-popping CGI killstravaganza, works best as pure spectacle. Would that it didn't have to, though
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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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2016


'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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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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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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'Legend of the Galactic Heroes, Vol. 2: Ambition' 
The second installment in Japan's foundational space opera de-emphasizes space war for civil war -- and for struggles within the spirits of the two main characters
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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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'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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'Garm Wars: The Last Druid': History, And Oshii, Repeating Themselves 
Mamoru Oshii's live-action project is a sad misfire -- ponderous, pretentious, and worst of all, nothing he hasn't done before (and done better, too)
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'Legend of the Galactic Heroes': To Every Man His Star 
Available at last in English after decades of anticipation, this broad-gauge space opera doesn't require the justification of its fans to be considered worth the wait
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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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Let's Animate This (Again): 'AKIRA' 
A new animated version of 'AKIRA', one that treats the entirety of the original story, would be far more welcome than a misconceived live-action version -- and wouldn't ding the reputation of the original movie, either
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'Astro-Boy': The Kid With The 100,000 Horsepower Heart 
Osamu Tezuka's beloved creation was more than just kid's stuff; it was machine-age mythology for young and old alike
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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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'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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'Attack on Titan: The Harsh Mistress of the City': Velvet Fist In Mailed Glove 
A much better expansion of the 'Attack on Titan' universe than the 'Before the Fall' light novel, but it's still not without its own issues
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'Fullmetal Alchemist': The Road Not Taken 
Placed side by side with its anime and manga brother incarnations, 'Fullmetal Alchemist' deserves more to be seen for where it rethinks and reinterprets, and less for how it deviates from the playbook
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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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'009 Re: Cyborg': Parts On Order 
The latest attempt to revamp a classic anime/manga property along modern-day sensibilities is a fizzle, no thanks to a mismatch of material and director
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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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'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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'Nobunagun': Shooting Blanks 
Trippy visuals and a throw-it-all-in-the-pot storytelling style fall victim to incurious storytelling in this oddity
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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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'Shangri-La': Up In Carbon-Traded Cloud-Cuckoo Land 
A wild grab bag of genres, influences, storylines, and ideas, 'Shangri-la' somehow manages to still work as entertainment even when it ought not to
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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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Let's Film This: 'The Dirty Pair' 
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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'Bubblegum Crisis': Yesterday's Tomorrow, Today 
How well has this vintage 1980s homage to action-oriented SF held up? Better, perhaps, for its use of female main characters than for its technology or plotting
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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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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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'Kite': A Girl, A Gun, A Remake 
The live-action remake of the infamous 1998 anime OVA is nowhere nearly as repellent as its source material, but don't take that as a recommendation
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'Patema Inverted': The Gravity Of Love 
Its story may be straight out of the tattered young-adult dystopia playbook, but 'Patema Inverted' boasts a central visual metaphor so dazzling it begs for IMAX
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'Welcome To The Space Show': The Kid-Hiker's Guide To The Galaxy 
When five kids get whisked away on an interplanetary adventure, the splashy and spectacular results walk a line between a movie about kids, a movie for kids, and perhaps even a movie by kids
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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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'Harlock: Space Pirate': Only The Imagery Is Three-Dimensional 
What sense does it make to turn Leiji Matsumoto's stirring, Gothic space opera into a shrink-wrapped CGI product?
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Katsuhiro Otomo's 'Freedom': The Boys Who Fell To Earth 
In the wake of 'Short Peace' and with 'Interstellar' in the offing, Katsuhiro Otomo's reach-for-the-stars project uses the graphics of the former to deliver the message of the latter
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'Short Peace': Genius In Miniature 
Katsuhiro Otomo's involvement in this dazzling short-film anthology is reason enough to seek it out, but there's plenty more on top of that
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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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'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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'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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