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Netflix's 'Cowboy Bebop': A New Jam Session

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Lopsided, but still very enjoyable; if this hasn't raised the upper bound for anime-to-live-action, it sure has raised the lower bound

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'Cop Craft': An Isekai Lethal Weapon

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Your standard cop-buddy story, made only slightly more interesting by having the buddy being a magic-wielding paladin

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'I Am A Cat': All Humans Are Gray In The Dark

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A scaled-down adaptation of Sōseki Natsume's dark comedy of human nature as seen through the eyes of a cat, but with all its cutting humor intact

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'The Castle Of Cagliostro': Thief Of Hearts

Anyone curious about 'Lupin III' or Hayao Miyazaki's career, start here, as this is a grandly entertaining introduction to both at once

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Monkey Punch's Lupin III has the intimidating breadth of something like the Gundam franchise: there's just so much of it, one scarcely knows where to begin. Hayao Miyazaki's The Castle Of Cagliostro is, from all I've seen, among the best places to start. It is arguably not the most faithful encapsulation of the Lupin aesthetic, as Miyazaki and his team altered a few things to make Lupin and his gang more palatable to mainstream audiences. But it's still a delight to watch, and a nice gateway to the rest of Lupin-dom. And perhaps also a fun backdoor to the rest of Miyazaki's career, as this showcases his talents in a very different container from the other work he's better known for.

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'Sailor Suit And Machine Gun: Graduation': Shots In The Dark

A functionally competent follow-up to the cult classic, but when your ancestor is a cult classic, you want more than just functional follow-up

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There was probably no way to recapture the lightning-in-a-bottle oddity that was the original 1981 Sailor Suit And Machine Gun, a loopy now-perennial piece of Japanese pop culture. This film, released thirty-five years later, mercifully doesn't try to do that. It's -- how would modern movie culture parlance put it? -- halfway between a sequel and a soft reboot of the material. Unfortunately, it doesn't have much to swap in for the original movie's weird, funky vibes. It's competent on its own, but a follow-up to something like SS&MG needs to be more than merely competent.

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'Sailor Suit And Machine Gun': She Shoots To Conquer

This off-kilter 1981 comedy about a girl inheriting a crew of not-very-competent yakuza is an oddball masterwork that zags when you think it'll zig

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Here is one of those movies where the exact details of the execution mean everything. The plot is parboiled absurdity of the highest order, the characters are either die-stamped cutouts or leering loons, and the material sometimes veers near squick territory. But the end result is one of Japan's oddest and bounciest cultural milestones, a left-of-center adaptation of a popular novel that zags when you think it would zig.

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