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Anime Roundup: September 26, 2016

Crunchymation? Funiroll? Their partnering was only one of a whole flood of interesting things over the past couple of weeks.

Anime Roundup: August 26, 2016

The engineer of 'Cowboy Bebop''s tunes heads to the big jam session in the sky; more 'Read Or Die' possibly on the way; a sneak peek at the live-action 'Ghost in the Shell' cast in action.

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© Aoi Bungaku Production Committee kokoro-00.jpg

'Aoi Bungaku: Kokoro': The Heart Of The Matter

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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

© Paramount Pictures / Dreamworks SKG gits-2017-teaser-01.jpg

Five Things About Those Five Glimpses Of The Live-Action 'Ghost In The Shell'

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A few short snippets won't provide us with the whole flavor of the live-action 'Ghost in the Shell' project, but they have given us some tea leaves worth reading

© Universal Pictures Dune David Lynch

Let's Animate This: 'Dune'

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Twice filmed, and twice flawed in the filming, maybe the wise way to bring Frank Herbert's space (and spice) saga to the screen would be via an anime adaptation

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© Project Itoh / Harmony harmony-00.jpg

'Harmony': To Extreme Remedies, Extreme Sickness

Project Itoh's 'medi-pocalypse' dystopia is all the more poignant in the wake of the author's untimely death, with a glossy (if also icy) anime adaptation now to accompany it

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Dystopias need to be more insightful than creative. It's not about how cleverly constructed the anti-future is; it's about how incisively the story's metaphors comment on the state of the world around us right now. Novelist Project Itoh's Harmony made mankind's obsession with perfect health and total safety into its metaphor. The anime adaptation, one of a series planned from Itoh's works, preserves everything significant about the book — including the poignancy of its message in light of the author's death of of cancer in 2009 at the age of 34 — and delivers it with the gloss and technical polish I've come to associate from Studio 4°C. And like the book, for better or worse, it steps clear of suggesting solutions. It's focused on showing how things fall apart and the center cannot hold.

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On Studio 4°C's Netflix Disappearing Act

When an anime title vanishes from streaming services, it hurts the works of the little guys far more than the big ones -- and it's often the little guys whose work most needs preserving

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A minor calamity hit my corner of the anime world this past week. Studio 4°C, the folks behind Mind Game, Princess Arete, Tweeny Witches, and the Genius Party anthologies, had been hosting all of those diverse and remarkable works on Netflix for the past year. Now the licenses for those titles have expired, leaving people curious about them with little recourse but to scour Amazon.com or gamble on finding an illegal stream or torrent somewhere. This is fast turning into the new normal for the way a niche cultural commodity like anime is consumed: Now you see it and now you don't. But this here-and-gone quality is not the biggest issue. It's that its impact on little players like Studio 4°C, and their fans, is so disproportionate.

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Image: Genius Party / © Genius Party genius_party_000.jpg
© Aoi Bungaku Production Committee sakura-no-mori-02.jpg

'Aoi Bungaku: Sakura No Mori No Mankai No Shita [In The Forest, Under Cherries In Full Bloom]': The Heart's Filthy Lesson

Ango Sakaguchi's classic story, a mix of 'farce, fable, and mystery' (and horror) is brought to life with outlandish style and color -- and always with one eye cocked towards its heart of darkness

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The best horror stories, certainly the most effective ones, are the ones where no explanation is sought or required, where all that's needed is to allow an audience's communion with something awful and unnameable. Ango Sakaguchi's short story Sakura No Mori No Mankai No Shita (In The Forest, Under Cherries In Full Bloom) attempts to be about that very fact — how the things that most terrify us come from places inside us we cannot see, or maybe better to say that we choose not to see. This animated version, created for the Aoi Bungaku series of adaptations of classic Japanese literature to anime, is gaudy and funny without also forgetting to be unsettling — and sometimes it's most unsettling when it's trying to be gaudy and funny.

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