meta: Recommended


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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'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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'The Life Of Budori Gusuko': One Against Nature 
Kenji Miyazawa's fantasy about human beings at the mercy of the natural world receives a flawed but still immensely impressive adaptation, by way of a director who did great justice to his 'Night On The Galactic Railroad'
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'An Actor's Revenge': Improvised, And Served Cold 
It's normally bad to call a movie 'stagy', but Kon Ichikawa's kabuki tragedy revels in it to great effect
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Patreon Kon Ichikawa's 'Kokoro': The Wretched Hearts Of Men 
Kon Ichikawa's 1955 film version of Sōseki Natsume's classic novel adapts it with fidelity, intelligence, and just enough changes to be stimulating
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'Blade Of The Immortal': Die Another Day 
A great manga-to-screen adaptation, a good-to-great Takashi Miike picture, and a slightly overlong and ragged samurai flick, in roughly that order
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Patreon 'Perfect Blue': Even Better Than The Real Thing 
Satoshi Kon's hallucinatory, jolting feature film debut still electrifies -- all the more so in light of how its recently translated source novel was a sub-'Silence Of The Lambs' stalk-and-slash thriller
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'Land Of The Lustrous': The Crystal Method 
The glimmering surfaces of this endearing microcosmic fantasy-adventure hide great depths that promise to only get greater with time
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'your name.': If A Body Meet A Body ... 
Makoto Shinkai's blockbuster is an eyeful and a heartful, but look closely and you'll see the seams
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