Article Archives: 2017


Patreon 'Mind Game': You Can Live ... Or You Can Live It Up 
Masaaki Yuasa's psychedelic masterwork is the 'Joe Vs. The Volcano' of animated films, about daring to snatch life from the jaws of the world
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Patreon The 'Silence' Of Shusaku Endō, Masahiro Shinoda, And Martin Scorsese 
On two film adaptations, entirely dissimilar but equally fascinating, of a Japanese novel about the persecution of Christians in Tokugawa-era Japan
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'Shin Gojira': Bureauocalypse Now 
Hideaki Anno's 'reboot' of the Godzilla franchise focuses on teamwork, bureaucracy, and dogged persistence rather than individual heroics
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Patreon 'Kaiba': This Body Holding Me 
Masaaki Yuasa's psychedelic exploration of the mutability of bodies and memories, in the form of a child's tale, is a one-of-a-kind masterwork
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Natsume Ono's 'not simple': Human Ruins 
The creator of 'ACCA: 13' and 'House Of Five Leaves' also gave us this haunting story of a young man thrown onto life's scrap heap
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Takeshi Kitano's 'Violent Cop': Contents Under Pressure 
'Beat' Takeshi Kitano's first outing as director remains among his best movies -- and also among his most nihilistic and unforgiving
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'Neo Yokio': Rising Below Badness 
It's not good, to be sure -- but maybe being its own special kind of bad is more valuable than we think
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'Blade Runner Black Out 2022': Dangerous Days, In Brief 
It's to 'Blade Runner' as 'The Animatrix' was to 'The Matrix', but to fine (if abbreviated) effect -- and maybe it'll be the first of more
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Victor Santos's 'Rashōmon': Edo Noir 
A clever and inventive retelling of three classic Japanese samurai-era tales, channeled through detective-noir sensibilities
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Patreon Seijun Suzuki's 'Taishō Trilogy': Erotic, Grotesque, Romantic 
Japan's Roaring Twenties are both backdrop and stage for these three excursions into the delirious, the decadent, and the surreal
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'Haibane Renmei': The Kids In God's Waiting Room 
An allegory, wrapped in a mystery, served up as a children's tale
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'Death Note' (2017): D.O.A. 
This isn't 'Death Note'; it's barely Cliffs Notes
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Welcome To Ganriki.org 3.0! 
An expansion, a refocusing, and a reinvigoration of our mission
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'In This Corner Of The World': Life During Wartime 
A masterwork, not just of period reconstruction and attention to the details of daily life, but also for the ways it navigates through the tricky issues of a story about WWII Japan without stumbling
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'Peepo Choo': Turning Japanese 
Felipe Smith's 2010 manga did more than show a Western creator could make use of the form; it provided a riotous critique of the very audience that might seek it out
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Gō Tanabe And The Hounds Of Love(craft) 
If the rest of Gō Tanabe's manga adaptations of H.P. Lovecraft's horror classics are as good as this first volume, we're overdue for seeing more of one of manga's thus-far hidden treasures
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'The Astonishing Work of Tezuka Osamu' 
The 'god of manga' directed animated films, too; curated here is an eye-opening array of shorts made available for English-speaking audiences
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Characters Of Distinction: Motoko Kusanagi 
How the feminist, post-humanist, and deeply human heart of the 'Ghost In The Shell' franchise became, and remains, an icon and a model
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Welcome To The Desert Of The Real: The Live-Action 'Gintama' And 'Bleach' 
There's always the chance the live-action 'Gintama' and 'Bleach' movies will be good, but right now they appear to embody the deadliest, most literal sins of such projects
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The (Dis)Illusion Of Life 
How CGI in anime, whether fancifully fantastic or forensically realistic, can work well
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How The Future (Of Western Live-Action Anime Adaptations) Can Be Female 
'Ghost In The Shell' fizzled, but there are tons of other worthwhile anime/manga titles with strong female leads that could be adapted excellently for English-speaking audiences
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'Outlaw Star': Once Upon A Time In Outer Space 
A poor man's 'Cowboy Bebop'? Maybe an anime 'Guardians Of The Galaxy'; either way, 'Outlaw Star' has its share of pulp-space-opera-sitcom delights
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'Captain Harlock: Arcadia Of My Youth': Paradise Lost 
Leiji Matsumoto brings his mythmaking style to the origin story of his legendary space pirate, a showcase for both the best and worst instincts in the man's storytelling style
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They're Going To Film This (On TV): 'Cowboy Bebop' 
A bad idea? Maybe not -- in big part because Cowboy Bebop doesn't have nearly the same number of obstacles to live-action adaptability as other shows
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Katushiro Ōtomo Won't Look Back, Can't Look Back 
The creator of 'AKIRA' is more interested in other things now. Good for him -- and most any creator ought to know what that feels like from the inside
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'Wolf Guy': Bark At The Moon 
A truly strange specimen from Sonny Chiba's filmography, and an illuminating early example of how manga adaptations were a perfect fit for 1970s exploitation cinema from Japan
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Netflix's 'BLAME!': Killy Walk With Me 
Recast into a two-hour movie, Tsutomu Nihei's metamorphic cyberpunk hellscape manga emerges all the more as a graduate of the 'Mad Max'/Man With No Name school of drifter/loner heroes
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Little Miracles, Done Dirt Cheap 
Hollywood doesn't need blockbuster-sized live-action anime/manga adaptations. Here's some projects that could work on modest, manageable budgets, are easy to adapt, and could win over Western audiences handily
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'Ocean Waves': There's Something About Muto 
A trifle of a film, but it doesn't overstate its importance or overstay its welcome, and it shows how Studio Ghibli gave as much care to stories like this as they did for any of Miyazaki's fantasias
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'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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The Soul Of A New 'Ghost' 
Very little is known about the recently announced 'Ghost In The Shell' animation project, but the people on board so far are about as good as you could ask for
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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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No Stars 
Ratings for reviews, whether in stars, numbers, or letter grades, are a detrimental influence to both criticism and consumer-service journalism. Here's why I'll never use them again if I can help it
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The Cracks In The 'Shell' 
Whatever my own readings of the film, the 2017 'Ghost In The Shell' is still problematic in ways that are potentially a bad model for other live-action anime
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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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On Missing Out And Yet Not Missing Out 
How to stay honest and review what sincerely interests you, when there's so much out there that clamors for your attention
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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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'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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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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'Attack On Titan: The Movie': A Dead-Action Film 
Misguided, tone-deaf, ugly, and erratically paced, this is one of the rare occasions where a promised Western remake might actually be just the response we deserve
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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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They're (Probably) Going To Film This (Again): 'Attack On Titan' 
After the dismal live-action version produced in Japan, a Western remake of 'Titan' seems a no-brainer, but not merely because the story is easy to re-localize
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Let's Film This: 'Cowboy Bebop' (2017, Post-'John Wick' Edition) 
'Keanu Reeves as Spike Spiegel' is not a death sentence, and 'John Wick' is Exhibit A for the defense
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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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See Article archives for 2016