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2018


'The Ghost In The Shell: Global Neural Network': Four Ways Into The Shell 
Four teams of writers and artists from Western comics deep-dive into the 'Ghost In The Shell'-verse, and arise with four divergent and arresting visions
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'Illang: The Wolf Brigade': Defanged 
Jee-woon Kim's live-action adaptation of Mamoru Oshii's 'Jin-Roh: The Wolf Brigade' is passable on its own, but doesn't come close to the primal shadow-play sorcery of the original
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'AKIRA' At 30-Something: The Manga At The End Of The World 
On having a reckoning with the god-emperor of modern manga, in a restored English-language edition at last
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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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'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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2017


'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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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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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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'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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'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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2016


'Lone Wolf And Cub': The Boy And The Beast 
Kazuo Koike's perennial manga classic was adapted for the big screen in this cycle of six pop-pulp masterpieces, where father and son slash, stab, shoot, and slice their way through hell
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'Kingsglaive: Final Fantasy XV': The State Of One Of The Arts 
As an introduction to the newest FF universe, it's perfectly adequate; as drama and storytelling, it's serviceable; as a technology demo, it's a triumph - much like the other FF films before it
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'Thunderbolt Fantasy': Master Of Puppets 
This wild, stylish marriage of Gerry Anderson-style marionettes, wuxia cinema, and gnarly anime plotting may be tough to take in at first, but we all complained about big eyes and small mouths once upon a time
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Tsutomu Nihei's 'Blame!': Sisyphus In The Labyrinth 
Tsutomu Nihei's debut manga is all industrial hellscapes, sudden violence, and science-fiction gloom -- and in those few things it's everything it needs to be
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'Tokyo Tribe': Last Night A DJ Kicked My Ass 
Sion Sono's freeform rap-stravaganza adaptation of the hip-hop turf-war manga splits down the middle between being silly fun and being too mindless for its own good
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'Ghost In The Shell: The New Movie': Only New On The Outside 
In the end, all the 'Ghost in the Shell: ARISE' continuity has done is lead us right back where we started
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'Dimension W': One-Dimensional 
Competent but ultimately tame, 'Dimension W' squanders an intriguing premise on a story that's more off-the-shelf than off-the-rails
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'Garm Wars: The Last Druid': History, And Oshii, Repeating Themselves 
Mamoru Oshii's live-action project is a sad misfire -- ponderous, pretentious, and worst of all, nothing he hasn't done before (and done better, too)
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'Astro-Boy': The Kid With The 100,000 Horsepower Heart 
Osamu Tezuka's beloved creation was more than just kid's stuff; it was machine-age mythology for young and old alike
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'Lady Snowblood': Revenge, Best Served Cold 
A pivotal inspiration for Tarantino's 'Kill Bill', this violent revenge tale brings us an anti-heroine who's as much of an outsider for being a woman as she is for being an assassin
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2015


Patreon 'Rurouni Kenshin': For The New Age, A New Man 
When the first film in this live-action trilogy is among the very best adaptations yet of an manga/anime property, we can forgive any weaknesses in the whole
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'Tokyo Ghoul': The Inhuman Condition 
It's tough sledding at first due to its focus on a hapless protagonist, but the way 'Tokyo Ghoul' picks up steam to redeem itself is impressive
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Patreon 'Kill la Kill': The Empress's New Clothes 
Studio Trigger's rip-roaring follow-up to 'Gurren Lagann' embodied its intentions, by wearing a suit of style as gaudy and theatrical as the ideas it entertains
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'Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust': Beyond The Pale 
Adapted from the third novel in the 'D' series, 'Bloodlust' tops its source material, the earlier animated 'D' film, and a good deal of the competition that's come along since
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