Live-action 'Naruto' is still a thing (and getting a rewrite); Miyazaki is too legit to quit; and 'In This Corner' shows off its research chops
Sony buys Funimation; Netflix unveils its gargantuan 2018 anime slate; and the creator of 'Peepo Choo' wants you to help bring his next project to (un)life.
The 'god of manga' directed animated films, too; curated here is an eye-opening array of shorts made available for English-speaking audiences
How the feminist, post-humanist, and deeply human heart of the 'Ghost In The Shell' franchise became, and remains, an icon and a model
There's always the chance the live-action 'Gintama' and 'Bleach' movies will be good, but right now they appear to embody the deadliest, most literal sins of such projects
Sculptor Alberto Giacometti once said to his biographer James Lord, "The more you struggle to make [a work of art] lifelike the less like life it becomes. But since a work of art is an illusion anyway, if you heighten the illusory quality, then you come closer to the effect of life."
It's not a coincidence the massive hardbound bible of animation published by The Walt Disney Company is named The Illusion Of Life. Animation, like cartooning before it, is about leveraging the audience's imagination, letting their suspension of disbelief do the heavy lifting, using the illusion. Maybe that's why as computer-assisted animation techniques become all the more "realistic", they become less adept at the very thing animation seems best for: using the illusion.
Anime makes extensive use of CGI, partly as a cost-saving measure, but sometimes as a way to present an aesthetic. At its best, it shows how the illusion can be used well; at its worst, it's like a bad synth cover of a beloved tune. You never know which it'll be.
So far this year there have been two major live-action adaptations of what I guess could be called "visual culture" properties, albeit ones hailing from entirely different corners. The first was Ghost In The Shell, about which I had some kind things to say and some less-than-kind things, and which landed with a wet thud even — and maybe especially — amongst the fans who has been most eagerly anticipating it. The other was Wonder Woman, a critical and commercial success.
This doesn't tell me that live-action anime/manga adaptations with strong female leads is a dry well or a crapshoot. It tells me that we've barely started to figure out how to make such things work, and that there remain a slew of other properties in that vein that might well be far better candidates for adaptation.
One of my favorite lines about the original Star Wars was uttered by none other than SF luminary Frederik Pohl: "It may not be Bach, but it is Offenbach. It delights." The same could be said about Outlaw Star, released the same year as Cowboy Bebop and produced by the same animation company (Sunrise Inc.), although offering a somewhat poorer man's version of that other show's raffish thrills.
Star does not quite soar into the same stratospheres as Bebop. It's too much of a sitcom as opposed to a space opera, and it suggests more possibilities than it actually fulfills. It's more pop-pulp than it is space-noir, more Offenbach than it is Bach. But more often than not, it delights. And it's a delight to have it back in print.