demographic: seinen


2019


'Carole & Tuesday': The Mars Volta 
Shinichiro Watanabe's new series, about two young women trying to make their music their way, either needed more SF or less of it to really work
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Akio Jissōji's 'The Buddhist Trilogy' 
Almost totally unseen outside Japan, these three art projects by a director best known for his 'Ultraman' work are anything but easy viewing, but also seething with vision and ambition
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Tomihiko Morimi's 'The Night Is Short, Walk on Girl': How One Thing Leads To Another 
This newly translated novel, the basis for Masaaki Yuasa's madcap movie, is just as wild as its successor, with the advantage of slightly more insight into its female protagonist
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'Tomie': The Infinite Bad Penny  
Like all great horror, Junji Ito's now-classic series about an undying supernatural siren has something to say other than "boo!"
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Katsuhiro Ōtomo's 'Domu': A Child's Book Of Nightmares 
A shame that any of Katsuhiro Ōtomo's work should still be out of print, especially this precusor to 'AKIRA' that pits psionic warriors against each other in a high-rise apartment complex
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'Unforgiven'/'Yurusarezarumono': From The Wild West To The Deep North 
Sang-Il Lee's Meiji-era remake of Clint Eastwood's now-classic Western doesn't quite eclipse its predecessor, but it doesn't need to; it stands very nicely on its own
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'Steins;Gate': Stand Back, We're Going To Try Weird Science 
How comedic banter, science-fiction mind-bending, and an irresistible cast of characters combined alchemically to make one of anime's best moments in recent years
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'The Face Of Another': Confessions Of A Mask 
Kōbō Abe's novel, and Hiroshi Teshigahara's film adaptation, explore an extreme case: a disfigured man given a new face to present to the world, and thus all the perils of existential absolute freedom
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'Black Lagoon': Boiled Harder 
The animated adaptation of Rei Hiroe's ferocious homage to '80s action and Hong Kong cinema has all the attitude and muscle of its source, and also all its soul and insight
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'Samurai Champloo': The Mix 
At the Venn intersection of '47 Ronin' and 'Cash Rules Everything Around Me' is this glorious jumble of period samurai adventure, road movie, anti-romantic triangle, comedy, drama, and stone cold classic
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'Tetsuo II: Body Hammer': Metamorphoses 
Shinya Tsukamoto's follow-up (side-quel?) to his immortal debut is not quite as arresting or inspired, but it has many fascinating aspects all the same
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'Tetsuo: The Iron Man': Full Metal Mutation 
Thirty years later, Shinya Tsukamoto's frenzied masterwork of cyberpunk body horror still seethes like nothing else on film
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'Punk Samurai Slash Down': Pulp Fiction 
Kō Machida's cult novel about a ronin grifter whose latest grift goes horribly wrong is one strange mash-up of conceits, even for those who like strange mash-ups
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'Cure': The Hollow(ed) Men 
Two decades on, Kiyoshi Kurosawa's mutant serial-killer thriller remains among his very best films, and one of Japan's finest from the 1990s generally
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Bonten Taro's 'Badass Babe! Sex & Fury & Other Stories': The Girl With The Hanafuda Tattoo 
An eclectic collection of manga work from a tattoo artist, folk singer, and quasi-underworld figure until now only marginally known in the West
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'The Five Star Stories': In The Year 7575 ... 
This late-1980s anime time capsule is daft but fascinating, if only because it hints at how a new re-adaptation of the same material might really go places
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'Katanagatari': The Amazing Adventures Of Sword(less) Boy And Strategy Girl 
From the pen of Nisioisin came this genre-bending and -busting samurai-era fantasy, adapted into a festive eyeful of an anime where there's as much wordplay as swordplay
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'One Cut Of The Dead / Kamera o tomeru na!': This Camera Cannot Be Stopped, Ever! 
Not just a love letter to the cinematic underdogs who pull off amazing things with sheer sweat, it is one of those amazing things pulled off with sheer sweat
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'Twilight Of The Cockroaches': The Bugs Shall Inherit The Earth 
Despite the wretched condition of the current reissue, this idiosyncratic and allegorical fusion of live action and animation has black comedy and deeper meanings alike
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'Alita: Battle Angel': She, The Ultimate Weapon 
A prime case study for how a film can be an fine adaptation of beloved source material, while also being breathless, overcrowded, and tangled as a story
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'Dororo': Take (Back) Another Little Piece Of My Heart 
Osamu Tezuka's feudal-era supernatural epic manga gives us two antiheroes, mutilated in body and spirit alike, both seeking wholeness
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'Once and Forever: The Tales of Kenji Miyazawa' 
Out of print, but reissued thanks to New York Review Books, this collection of shorter works serves as a fine point of entry to a visionary author now getting his due in the West
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'Kamui Gaiden': Uncanny Valley Of The Ninja 
Get past the often terrible CGI, and you'll find a reasonably faithful movie adaptation of Sanpei Shirato's manga masterpiece
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'Hells': Infernal Affairs 
Visually and stylistically uninhibited, but a narrative and logistical jumble, this afterlife fantasy is as divisive as it is inventive
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2018


'An Invitation From A Crab': Dreamland Hyperspace 
panpanya's English-language debut rubs shoulders comfortably with the likes of 'Nichijou' for slice-of-life strangeness, but swathed in a far darker atmosphere
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