meta: Surrealism


2019


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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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 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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Patreon 'Animerama: Cleopatra': God Of Manga Meets Queen Of Nile 
The second of Tezuka's 'Animerama' productions for adults works best as a showcase for Tezuka's imaginative visuals, less so as a story or even as a spoof of Hollywood excess
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Patreon 'Animerama: A Thousand And One Nights': Tezuka's Erotic Follies 
The first of Osamu Tezuka's experimental trilogy of animated films for adults is a fascinating time capsule that swerves between visionary and puerile
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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 '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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2017


'Funeral Parade Of Roses': Party Like It's 1969 
More than forty years later, Toshio Matsumoto's psychedelic whirlpool of counterculture sexuality and continuity-shattering New Wave filmmaking remains a one-of-a-kind blast of cinematic fresh air
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Patreon 'Mind Game': You Can Live ... Or You Can Live It Up 
Masaaki Yuasa's psychedelic masterwork is the 'Joe Vs. The Volcano' of animated films, about daring to snatch life from the jaws of the world
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Patreon 'Kaiba': This Body Holding Me 
Masaaki Yuasa's psychedelic exploration of the mutability of bodies and memories, in the form of a child's tale, is a one-of-a-kind masterwork
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Patreon Seijun Suzuki's 'Taishō Trilogy': Erotic, Grotesque, Romantic 
Japan's Roaring Twenties are both backdrop and stage for these three excursions into the delirious, the decadent, and the surreal
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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


'Neji-shiki'/'Screwed': A Peek Into The Pit 
How to film Yoshiharu Tsuge's landmark work of surrealist comics? Leave it to master of weirdness Teruo Ishii, albeit with mixed results
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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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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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Patreon 'Night On The Galactic Railroad': We Are All Made Of Starstuff 
The animated version of Kenji Miyazawa's fable isn't just a Classics Illustrated; it finds a voice of its own with which to tell its story of eternity and afterlife
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2015


The First Rule Of 'Lychee Light Club' Is You Don't Talk About 'Lychee Light Club' 
Usamaru Furuya's Grand Guignol horrorshow weeds out all but the sternest stomachs with its transgressive story and gory art -- but is the true test of a piece of work how quickly it empties the room?
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'Space Dandy': The Cosmic Jester 
This colorful slice of cosmic slapstick only looks dumb from the outside; it's one of the slyest fusions of comedy and science fiction anime has produced
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Usamaru Furuya's 'No Longer Human': The Downward Spiral 
Osamu Dazai's despairing novel galvanized postwar Japan; Usamaru Furuya's modernized manga adaptation does justice to all its hearts of darkness
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Let's Animate This: 'Dogura Magura' 
Yumeno Kyusaku's masterpiece of surreal horror has been filmed, and even adapted to manga, but its dreamy evil makes it perfectly suited to an anime version
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'Opus': Satoshi Kon's Unfinished Symphony 
Never finished and lost to time, Satoshi Kon's mini-epic about a manga artist caught in the interpenetration of reality and his imagination works both on its own terms as an adventure -- and as an unintentional metaphor for its creator's own career
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2014


'Asura Girl': She's Strange 
Otaro Maijo's genre- and criticism-defying novel ignores conventions of style, genre, narrative, and logic; would that it added up to more than a stunt
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'Mononoke': To Extreme Sickness, Extreme Remedies 
Long unavailable in anything but fansubs, this psychedelic horror-fantasy anthology is bewitching and intoxicating
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Continue reading archives for this tag from 2014