Amazon's anime zone
Amazon's muscled its way into just about every retail and online space; why not anime distribution as well? And so we have Anime Strike, a $5-a-month competitor for services like Crunchyroll and Funimation Now, with some 1,000 titles in its catalog. Many are available through C-roll as well, but Amazon's strategy here is the same with most any other market they've entered: enter at a loss if needed, compete on price and sheer scale, and go from there. Unlike C-roll, though, there's no ad-supported/low-quality free tier. But for $5 a month, that may turn a few heads. That's, what, one less cup of coffee a month? (I'm used to Manhattan coffee prices.)
I got dem Metropolis Blu-s
Rin Taro's Metropolis is one of those movies I go to bat for whenever the chance arises — a wide-gauge, ambitious adaptation, if a very loose one, of Osamu Tezuka's manga (which has little to do with Fritz Lang's seminal 1927 SF production save for the name and some basic ideas). Sony Pictures issued a DVD for it way the heck back when, but only now are they getting around to issuing it on Blu-ray Disc.
Here's the bad news. The version being offered in the U.S. is being provided by way of Amazon's on-demand service — it's a burned BD-R, not a manufactured disc. If you want something a little more durable, you'll need to import the steelbook edition being offered to those lucky sods in the U.K. Actually, this isn't a bad time at all to buy it, what with the pound sterling being fairly low vs. the dollar.
We're just knocked out, we heard about the sell-out
Makoto Shinkai's your name. has become such a box-office smash that it's unseated Spirited Away for the all-time top grossing anime release, having mobbed some $192 million in Japan alone, with another $81 million in China. It's set to debut in the U.S. on April 7, although most likely only in a limited release that will not bring in anywhere nearly the kind of cash it's seen back at home.
In this corner, the best film of the year
What little I've seen or heard about Sunao Katabuchi's lilting life-during-wartime drama In This Corner Of The World has been highly appealing. Add to that this news: Japanese cinema institution Kinema Junpo recently named it the best Japanese film of 2016. Not best animated film; best film, period.
My one bit of trepidation about this production revolves around Katabuchi's previous film, Mai Mai Miracle. I wanted to like it — it's got the same kind of "ah, nostalgia!" atmosphere that In This Corner appears to be also exuding — but its story was too fragmented, aimless, and poorly paced for me to really get behind it. I hope Corner delivers where that film stumbled.
Perhaps the most startling thing about both movies was that they came from the same man who directed Black Lagoon. What can I say? He's large; he contains multitudes. Good for us.
English (UK) trailer:
Samura's renegade soundwave
Hiroaki Samura is best known for Blade of the Immortal, as fine a piece of comics work as you're going to find in any language. It's easy to assume Blade is representative of his work as a whole, but that's not true, and a new title of his from Kodansha titled Wave, Listen To Me! looks like it'll be a fine way to learn more about that. Who would have thought the creator of an immortal outlaw swordsman would give us a story about a woman breaking (literally) into talk radio? I wasn't as fond as I wanted to be with Die Wergelder (what I've seen of it so far, anyway) so this looks like a nice change-up in the vein of his amusing short stories set in the present day.