meta: Recommended


2017


'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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'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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'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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'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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'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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'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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2016


'Barakamon': The Problem With Getting Away From It All Is You Always Take It All With You
Having a city slicker hit the sticks isn't an innovative story by itself, but 'Barakamon' has heart, humor, and some surprising insight into what makes creative people tick
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'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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'Ergo Proxy': I Think, Therefore You Are
Few anime intended for mainstream consumption are this avowedly experimental; fewer still pull it off to the degree this one does
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'The Fake': Closer To God
The follow-up from the director of 'King Of Pigs' is both more artistically accomplished and more emotionally scarring, an attempt to get us to care about someone who would otherwise never warrant our sympathy
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'Her Eternal Moonlight': 'Sailor Moon' Fans, Stand Up And Be Counted
Steven Savage and Bonnie Walling's study of 'Sailor Moon' fandom documents the way the show transformed a generation of young women, and how they transformed it right back
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Patreon 'Aoi Bungaku: Kokoro': The Heart Of The Matter
Natsume Sōseki's unsentimental, heart-wrenching classic still hits hard a hundred years later; its Aoi Bungaku anime adaptation restructures it to intriguing if unsuccessful effect
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'Yoshitaka Amano: Illustrations': Amano Fans, Begin Here
If you're leery of shelling out tons of money for artbooks devoted to only Yoshitaka Amano's 'Final Fantasy' or 'Vampire Hunter D' work, you now have an affordable starting point for understanding the man's entire career
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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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'Legend of the Galactic Heroes, Vol. 2: Ambition'
The second installment in Japan's foundational space opera de-emphasizes space war for civil war -- and for struggles within the spirits of the two main characters
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'Queen Emeraldas': Our Lady Of The Sea Of Stars
Leiji Matsumoto's pulp action / space opera stories are really a kind of SF-tingled mythology; his 'Captain Harlock' successor, now out in English, is a fine example
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'Empire of Corpses': Dead Man's Party
Label anything 'steampunk' and the label tends to take over, but this fantasy from the late lamented Project Itoh is about more than just clockworks and longcoats
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Patreon 'Belladonna of Sadness': Satan Met A Lady
Restored to its original psychedelic glory, this mad masterwork from Osamu Tezuka's studio goes from chic porn to feminist parable and everything in between
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