meta: Recommended


2019


'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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'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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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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'The Legend Of Kamui': A Nearly Lost Ninja Scroll 
With only two volumes in English, and those out of print, Sanpei Shirato's ragged and earthy ninja epic needs as much of a reissue in full as can be had
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'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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'A Shameful Life': Osamu Dazai's 'No Longer Human', All Over Again 
An all-new translation of Osamu Dazai's bleak masterwork brings fresh clarity and immediacy to a staple of modern Japanese literature
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Natsuo Kirino's 'Out': The Katori Corpse Disposal Service 
Natsuo Kirino's nervy thriller pits four working-class women against Japanese society -- not just its seedy underbelly, but its whole stacked deck of capital, class, and sex
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'Yoshitaka Amano: The Illustrated Biography' 
The man who gave us the visuals for 'Vampire Hunter D', 'Final Fantasy', 'Angel's Egg', and much more, finally has his own story in print for English-speaking audiences
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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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'The Night Is Short, Walk On Girl': To The Break Of Dawn 
Masaaki Yuasa's dizzying mini-epic begins as boy-seeks-girl and ends by circumnavigating entire universes of possibility
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'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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'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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'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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