Article Archives

2018


'The Book Of The Dead': Illusions Of Life 
A classic historical novel, in English for the first time, has a dazzling stop-motion animated adaptation to go with it from one of Japan's masters of that art
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'Maborosi': The Unanswerable Question 
Hirokazu Kore-eda's debut feature, twenty years on, remains an ominous and poignant masterwork
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Patreon 'Animerama: Cleopatra': God Of Manga Meets Queen Of Nile 
The second of Tezuka's 'Animerama' productions for adults works best as a showcase for Tezuka's imaginative visuals, less so as a story or even as a spoof of Hollywood excess
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Patreon 'Animerama: A Thousand And One Nights': Tezuka's Erotic Follies 
The first of Osamu Tezuka's experimental trilogy of animated films for adults is a fascinating time capsule that swerves between visionary and puerile
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'Kyōsōgiga': And You Thought Your Parents Were Weird? 
Buddhist lore, supernatural slapstick action, and domestic drama all combine to make this idiosyncractic instant classic
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Patreon 'A Silent Voice': Children Of Lesser Gods 
A gorgeous adaptation of the acclaimed manga, and a story with a hard moral question: Who gets to be redeemed?
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Patreon 'Bakumatsu Taiyōden'/'Sun In The Last Days Of The Shogunate': Grifter's Paradise 
All but unseen by Western audiences, this breezy, bracing 1957 comedy cross-sections Japanese society at a turning point, for both fast laughs and wise insights
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'Like The Clouds, Like The Wind': From Country Girl To First Concubine 
A real treat: a made-for-TV historical fantasy, by way of some Studio Ghibli regulars, that starts lighthearted and in time becomes genuinely ambitious
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'The Man Who Stole The Sun': I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love The Bomb. Now What? 
Almost forty years later, this jet-black comedy about a one-man nuclear terrorist ring remains an absurdist masterwork
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'Mishima': The Art Of His Life 
Maybe it could only take someone from outside Japan, like director Paul Schrader, to make an insightful movie about one of Japan's most divisive and fascinating figures
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'Mary And The Witch's Flower': From Neo-Ghibli, A Quasi-Kiki 
The freshman effort from ex-Ghibli creators Studio Ponoc at first seems like a riff on 'Kiki's Delivery Service' or 'Harry Potter' territory, but has morality rather than magic on its mind
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The Edition Omega Point Chronicles: Jōji Yuasa's 'Aoi no Ue' and 'My Blue Sky No.1' 
The first in a series of releases documenting the experimental works of Japanese composers brings us two electronic works from a regular presence in Japan's musical avant-garde
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'Spring And Chaos': The Man With The Child In His Eyes 
The life story of Japan's Whitman or Thoreau, as directed by one of the lead designers behind the 'Macross' franchise, is both appropriately stylized and spiritually true to the story it wants to tell
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'Violet Evergarden': Words From The Heart 
Netflix's coproduction with Kyoto Animation is gorgeous and has a story worth telling, but maybe melodrama wasn't the right mode for it
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'After The Rain': Two (Broken) Hearts Beat As One 
What starts as an unlikely (and potentially squicky) romance becomes a more ambitious story about kinship between those with buried dreams
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'The Life Of Budori Gusuko': One Against Nature 
Kenji Miyazawa's fantasy about human beings at the mercy of the natural world receives a flawed but still immensely impressive adaptation, by way of a director who did great justice to his 'Night On The Galactic Railroad'
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'An Actor's Revenge': Improvised, And Served Cold 
It's normally bad to call a movie 'stagy', but Kon Ichikawa's kabuki tragedy revels in it to great effect
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'Ichi The Killer': The (Sado)Masochism Tango 
Nearly twenty years later, this remains Takashi Miike's most notorious film, but notoriety is about all it has left going for it
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'Gintama' (2017): The Fact That Elizabeth Is Played By A Guy In A Suit Is A Feature, Not A Bug 
Fans, this is about as on-target an adaptation of 'Gintama' to a live-action production as you're going to get -- but everyone else, don't walk in cold
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Patreon Kon Ichikawa's 'Kokoro': The Wretched Hearts Of Men 
Kon Ichikawa's 1955 film version of Sōseki Natsume's classic novel adapts it with fidelity, intelligence, and just enough changes to be stimulating
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'Blade Of The Immortal': Die Another Day 
A great manga-to-screen adaptation, a good-to-great Takashi Miike picture, and a slightly overlong and ragged samurai flick, in roughly that order
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'Fullmetal Alchemist' (2017): Ed And Al, In Miniature 
Further proof that some anime-to-live-action adaptations need to either be done at the right scale or not done at all
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Patreon 'Perfect Blue': Even Better Than The Real Thing 
Satoshi Kon's hallucinatory, jolting feature film debut still electrifies -- all the more so in light of how its recently translated source novel was a sub-'Silence Of The Lambs' stalk-and-slash thriller
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'Napping Princess': Slumberland Blues 
The one great idea to be found in Kenji Kamiyama's new film is stranded in a mishmash of a story that tries to do too many things and accomplishes almost none of them
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'Land Of The Lustrous': The Crystal Method 
The glimmering surfaces of this endearing microcosmic fantasy-adventure hide great depths that promise to only get greater with time
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'your name.': If A Body Meet A Body ... 
Makoto Shinkai's blockbuster is an eyeful and a heartful, but look closely and you'll see the seams
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'Devilman Crybaby': Sympathy From The Devil 
Maverick director Masaaki Yuasa retells one of Gō Nagai's infamous operas of ultraviolence, with Yuasa adding both his trademark psychedelic visuals and a story that ultimately aims to break your heart, not just turn your stomach
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'Genocidal Organ': Death Sentences 
The third and final movie adapted from Project Itoh's novels retains the timely and unsettling ideas from its source material, but also its dramatic awkwardness
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2017


'Funeral Parade Of Roses': Party Like It's 1969 
More than forty years later, Toshio Matsumoto's psychedelic whirlpool of counterculture sexuality and continuity-shattering New Wave filmmaking remains a one-of-a-kind blast of cinematic fresh air
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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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