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Anime Roundup: April 14, 2016

'Perfect Blue''s source material is seeing an English release for the first time; 'Ghost' bombs at the b.o.; and 'your name.' makes a modest splash in the U.S.

Anime Roundup: April 7, 2017

'Mind Game' coming back to home video thanks to Kickstarter; 'AKIRA' might get the 'Get Out' director; Ghibli classics coming to theaters near you

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'The Ghost In The Shell: Five New Short Stories'

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A spry, classy set of riffs on the 'Ghost In The Shell' universe, drawing on characters we know and extrapolating from the setting at large, but newcomers to the franchise shouldn't make this their first outing with it

© 2000 Akitarō Daichi · MADHOUSE / Bandai Visual tsukikage-ran-00.jpg

'Carried by the Wind: Tsukikage Ran': Crouching Tigress, Nitwit Dragon

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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

© 2002-2005 Shirow Masamune • Production I.G/KODANSHA gits-sac-023.jpg

The Soul Of A New 'Ghost'

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Very little is known about the recently announced 'Ghost In The Shell' animation project, but the people on board so far are about as good as you could ask for

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Miss Hokusai © Hinako Sugiura・MS.HS / Sarusuberi Film Partners miss-hokusai-00.jpg

'Miss Hokusai': An Incomplete Portrait

With a potentially fascinating story about the daughter of the fabled artist Hokusai and some beautiful production design, it's a shame this unfocused and aimless film isn't better

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Miss Hokusai is a beautifully animated project about the irrepressible daughter of one of Japan's most fabled artists, an effort drenched in period detail and jazzed up with touches of magical realism. It is not, however, a very good movie. It's aimless, unfocused, even indifferent — adjectives I don't want to use for something that clearly radiates artistic ambition and sports a top-notch production pedigree. But material like this, and especially a main character like this, deserves a movie with more of a point of view on its material than an indifferent shrug.

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No Stars

Ratings for reviews, whether in stars, numbers, or letter grades, are a detrimental influence to both criticism and consumer-service journalism. Here's why I'll never use them again if I can help it

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I don't give star ratings for reviews. I used to. I never will again if I can help it. A simple Yes or No will do the trick for those seeking a rating, along with some discussion of what the thing is about and why it is about it. But star ratings mislead readers, distort the function of commentary, and are all but meaningless. They don't even do much towards their intended goal, providing gradations of recommendation for a given work.

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Photo by MichaelGaida (CC0 Public Domain) cinema-1241422_1920.jpg
© Paramount Pictures / Dreamworks SKG gits-scarjo-02.jpg

The Cracks In The 'Shell'

Whatever my own readings of the film, the 2017 'Ghost In The Shell' is still problematic in ways that are potentially a bad model for other live-action anime

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Let truth be told: When I walked into the theater to see Ghost In The Shell (2017), I was cracking my knuckles and expecting to rip the movie up the middle. I walked out with a very different attitude, one I documented in my review. The movie is problematic, and is a limited take on its source material, but I felt a case could be made for how it attempted to use its casting as an actual thematic element. It wasn't obliged to do so, and that I saw a case for how it did such a thing surprised me. But my appreciation is not automatically anyone else's, and there's still plenty about this movie that is worth critiquing and deserves spelling out.

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