Today marks the next phase in the evolution of Ganriki.org — one that I have, in all honesty, been mulling since before its inception. From this point on, Ganriki.org is no longer exclusively a site about Japanese visual and verbal culture as found in anime and manga. It's about Japanese culture — popular and high, visual and verbal and dramatic — as a whole.
In practical terms, this change means both an expansion and a refinement of what we cover. We'll still continue to discuss anime and manga here, along with related artifacts such as light novels, but we'll be focusing all the more on works that are not necessarily of the moment. This means more special research projects, more looks at shows and movies from past years that deserve rediscovery, more discussions of milestones of one kind or another. We may still cover, for instance, an anime from the current season if they spark our interest, but this won't be a primary obligation.
To give you an idea of where our attention is turning, here are some of the projects we have in mind for the near future:
- Seijun Suzuki's Taishō Trilogy, the surreal and spellbinding cycle of indie films created by the director who went from gangster-picture workman to unemployable pariah to a vanguard of the cheeky avant-garde. We'll also look at the writings of surrealist Uchida Hyakken, whose works inspired part of the Trilogy.
- The Big O, Keiichi Sato, Chiaki J. Konaka, and Kazuyoshi Katayama's fusion of Batman, Dark City, and giant-mecha/tokusatsu stories that gained a new lease on life from its Western viewership.
- The film works of Kijū Yoshida, especially Eros + Massacre, his meditation on the way the life and times of anarchist Sakae Ōsugi are reflected in the politics of a future generation of would-be revolutionaries.
- Spring And Chaos, Shōji Kawamori's experimental animated production inspired by the life of poet, naturist, and author Kenji Miyazawa.
- A look at the life and work of Toru Takemitsu, gifted composer and renowned creator of film music (for Akira Kurosawa's RAN, among many others).
- Battles Without Honor And Humanity, Kinji (Battle Royale) Fukasaku's angry, blood-drenched epic cycle of films about the struggles for power by the yakuza in the wake of WWII. (Battle Royale itself, both the movie and the original novel, will also be due for a look.)
- Sukeban Deka, Shinji Wada's now-iconic and tremendously influential 1970s shōjō manga, laced with startling violence, about a bad girl gone good in a world going mad.
- Silence, Shusaku Endō's classic novel about Christianity's tests of faith under the Shōgunate, adapted twice into film — once by Masahiro Shinoda in 1971, and again recently by Martin Scorsese. (We also have longer-term plans to discuss Endō's other novels.)
- HELLS, Shinichi Hiromoto and Yoshiki Yamakawa's surreal afterlife adventure and theological soap opera that is equal parts Beetlejuice, REDLINE, and What Dreams May Come.
- Female Prisoner 701: Scorpion, the women-behind-bars pulp film series that, along with Lady Snowblood, catapulted Meiko Kaji to action-heroine/femme-fatale superstardom.
- Guin Saga, Kaoru Kurimoto's 100-plus-novel-long epic fantasy series, a favorite of Berserk creator Kentarō Miura, and like Berserk the subject of its own anime adaptation.
- Edition Omega Point, an independent record label for preserving rare recordings of works from Japan's experimental and avant-garde composers, such as Toshi Ichiyanagi and Jōji Yuasa.
- Royal Space Force: Wings Of Honneamise, the fledgling effort by GAINAX, an alternate-universe version of the early years of the space program in the manner of The Right Stuff.
We're also going to include investigations into visual and verbal culture from the rest of Asia — e.g., film, literature, and popular culture generally from South Korea, Hong Kong, Taiwan, mainland China, and so on. But Japan will remain the primary focus, if only because that's where most of our expertise lies.
Some things won't change, though. For instance, we're still curious about the various anime/manga-to-live-action adaptations that continue to emerge. Some have A-list directors at the helm (for Blade of the Immortal, Takashi Miike); some constitute experiments in whether or not certain properties can be adapted to live action at all (Gintama). All of this makes for fascinating viewing. Headlining projects, like Makoto Shinkai's your name. and Netflix's live-action adaptation of Death Note will continue to draw our attention. And perennially classic anime and manga titles that are returning to new audiences — Revolutionary Girl Utena, or the soon-to-be-reprinted AKIRA, for instance — will deserve close looks.
For those of you who have been supporting us on Patreon, the collection for the month of September has also been suspended so that you can determine whether or not you feel this project is worth supporting in its new form. We've removed the earlier selection of support tiers, and we're looking at new rewards for different levels of support.
That said, we believe our new direction will give us all the more to talk about, and all the more for you to enjoy.