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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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Photo by MichaelGaida (CC0 Public Domain) cinema-1241422_1920.jpg

No Stars

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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

© Paramount Pictures / Dreamworks SKG gits-scarjo-02.jpg

The Cracks In The 'Shell'

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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

© Paramount Pictures / Dreamworks SKG GITS-2017-key-image-00.jpg

'Ghost In The Shell' (2017): The Americanization of Motoko

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The most fascinating thing about the Western remake of 'Ghost In The Shell' is how what seemed most problematic about it -- Scarlett Johansson in the lead role -- is leveraged as a thematic element in the film itself

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Photo © Serdar Yegulalp http://www.ganriki.org/assets/2014/anime-3.jpg

On Missing Out And Yet Not Missing Out

How to stay honest and review what sincerely interests you, when there's so much out there that clamors for your attention

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This past season was an unusual one for me at Ganriki, in that it had no less than five shows I ended up watching all the way through or sticking with as they entered a second cour. Some were great (Drifters, Flip Flappers) and continue to be great (March Comes In Like A Lion). Some failed to live up to their promises (Bungo Stray Dogs, Izetta: The Last Witch). What drew me to them and got me thinking about them weren't the fact that they were new shows, though, because some time back I made a pledge to myself that I was in no way honor-bound to talk about something just because it was new. I still think that's the case, but I'm obliged to question my own motives. I can't pretend nothing is interesting unless it still holds up five or ten years later, but I'm not in this to stay ahead of the competition, either.

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'Osamu Tezuka's Metropolis': Little Robot In The Big City

In the hands of 'Akira' creator Katsuhiro Ōtomo and 'Dagger of Kamui' director Rintaro, Osamu Tezuka's early manga became a wide-gauge spectacle that retained its childlike innocence and soul

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Portions of this essay appeared in a different form at Genji Press.

There are many anime that look spectacular, and many that exude great emotional power. And then there are a blessed few that accomplish both of those things, without compromising either one. Metropolis starts off in the first category, but moves into the second, and ends by unifying them. It's good that it's lavish and exhilarating to look at, but even better that it has charm and ultimately heart. Fifteen-plus years after it first appeared, it's been reissued on Blu-ray, and I find myself moved by it as least as much as I was dazzled.

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© Tezuka Productions / Metropolis Committee metropolis-122.jpg
© Masamune Shirow gits-manga-00.jpg

'The Ghost In The Shell': Motoko Kusanagi, The Early Years

If you're a first-time reader of Masamune Shirow's manga, progenitor of a whole name-brand cyberpunk franchise, the original will be as striking for its slapstick and satirical jabs as it is for its vision of a future still coming true today

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Odd feeling, this. It's been years since I last read Masamune Shirow's original manga of The Ghost In The Shell, and since then I have experienced no less than three entirely different alternate takes on the GITS-verse: both movies, the Stand Alone Complex TV series, the ARISE series. This franchise has become as important for the way it's been reinterpreted in subsequent incarnations as the way it was originally. Maybe more so, since those latter incarnations tend to be how people run into this material first, making the original all the stranger to our eyes when we finally do meet it. But re-encountering the original Ghost In The Shell on its own terms, thanks to Kodansha's reissue of the title in a deluxe hardback, is an enlightening experience. It's instructive to see how Shirow's original story was reworked, both in part and in whole, and how many aspects of that original never completely made it into future incarnations. Call it a roots lesson.

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