Article Archives

2017


Patreon 'Carried by the Wind: Tsukikage Ran': Crouching Tigress, Nitwit Dragon 
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
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The Soul Of A New 'Ghost' 
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': 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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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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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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'Ghost In The Shell' (2017): The Americanization of Motoko 
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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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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'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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'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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'Gantz: O': Kill, Die, Repeat 
'Gantz' was never long on story to begin with, and so this new adaptation, an eye-popping CGI killstravaganza, works best as pure spectacle. Would that it didn't have to, though
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'Ghost In The Shell 2: Innocence': Farewell, My Lovely 
Everything that was both grand and frustrating about Oshii's original 'Ghost In The Shell' film is redoubled in its follow-up, a visionary work that neglects to give its characters their own voices
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Patreon 'The Tatami Galaxy': Have I Been In This Room Before? 
When the director of 'Mind Game' and the author of 'The Eccentric Family' got together, they created a comedic masterpiece that plays like 'Groundhog Day' fused with both of those visionary projects
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'Attack On Titan: The Movie': A Dead-Action Film 
Misguided, tone-deaf, ugly, and erratically paced, this is one of the rare occasions where a promised Western remake might actually be just the response we deserve
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'Blade Of The Immortal': But That's The Way I Like It, Baby, I Don't Want To Live Forever 
With the first of the three-in-one reissues of Hiroaki Samura's epic fantasy about a nigh-unkillable assassin, there's never been a better time to rediscover one of manga's high points
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'Bungo Stray Dogs': Six (Or More) Authors In Search Of Some Character 
'Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter' for the J-lit set; a show that has one great creative invention and then spends its entire runtime doing nothing of consequence with it
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They're (Probably) Going To Film This (Again): 'Attack On Titan' 
After the dismal live-action version produced in Japan, a Western remake of 'Titan' seems a no-brainer, but not merely because the story is easy to re-localize
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Let's Film This: 'Cowboy Bebop' (2017, Post-'John Wick' Edition) 
'Keanu Reeves as Spike Spiegel' is not a death sentence, and 'John Wick' is Exhibit A for the defense
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Patreon Ways To The Heart: Four Manga Adaptations Of Sōseki Natsume's 'Kokoro' 
Four manga adaptations of Sōseki Natsume's classic novel range from mere Classics Illustrated versions to a radical modern-day reinvention that rediscovers the story's heart of darkness
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'Izetta: The Last Witch': All This And World War II 
A promising opening, an intriguing spin on an alternate version of recent history, a classy-looking production -- but it all crumbles no thanks to abysmal characterization and storytelling decisions
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2016


'Neji-shiki'/'Screwed': A Peek Into The Pit 
How to film Yoshiharu Tsuge's landmark work of surrealist comics? Leave it to master of weirdness Teruo Ishii, albeit with mixed results
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Is This The Real Life, Or Is This Just Fantasy? 
Live-action adaptations of anime are arriving at a head-turning pace. Is that great news for fans, or a portent for a flood of mediocre cash-grabs to come?
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'Barakamon': The Problem With Getting Away From It All Is You Always Take It All With You 
Having a city slicker hit the sticks isn't an innovative story by itself, but 'Barakamon' has heart, humor, and some surprising insight into what makes creative people tick
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'Lone Wolf And Cub': The Boy And The Beast 
Kazuo Koike's perennial manga classic was adapted for the big screen in this cycle of six pop-pulp masterpieces, where father and son slash, stab, shoot, and slice their way through hell
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Let's Animate This: 'Musui's Story' 
This riotous 19th-century memoir of a ne'er-do-well samurai's life and times, available in English, would lend itself wonderfully to an anime treatment
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'Ergo Proxy': I Think, Therefore You Are 
Few anime intended for mainstream consumption are this avowedly experimental; fewer still pull it off to the degree this one does
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On Three Anime Oscar Candidates (Plus Two More, Sort Of) 
Japan has three pictures in the running for Best Animated Feature Film in this year's Oscars, with two others influenced by Japan. It's a shame none of them are likely to win
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The First Full 'Ghost In The Shell' Live-Action Trailer Is Remarkably Promising 
The looks: check. The action: check. The questions of identity: check. Now let's see how the rest holds up
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I'm Gonna Carry That Weight 
How I almost folded Ganriki.org's tent, and how I decided against it
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'Kingsglaive: Final Fantasy XV': The State Of One Of The Arts 
As an introduction to the newest FF universe, it's perfectly adequate; as drama and storytelling, it's serviceable; as a technology demo, it's a triumph - much like the other FF films before it
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The Long And Winding Review 
Covering an ongoing series can become an exercise in minutiae or futility. Here's the strategy I chose to keep my involvement active without also having it eat me alive
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'The Fake': Closer To God 
The follow-up from the director of 'King Of Pigs' is both more artistically accomplished and more emotionally scarring, an attempt to get us to care about someone who would otherwise never warrant our sympathy
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'Thunderbolt Fantasy': Master Of Puppets 
This wild, stylish marriage of Gerry Anderson-style marionettes, wuxia cinema, and gnarly anime plotting may be tough to take in at first, but we all complained about big eyes and small mouths once upon a time
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'Berserk' (2016): What Becomes Of The Brokenhearted? 
The return of Kentarō Miura's violent fantasy epic to the little screen brings with it a fidelity to its strong characterization and powerful story -- and a renewed appreciation of all that was problematic the first time
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'Her Eternal Moonlight': 'Sailor Moon' Fans, Stand Up And Be Counted 
Steven Savage and Bonnie Walling's study of 'Sailor Moon' fandom documents the way the show transformed a generation of young women, and how they transformed it right back
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Patreon 'Aoi Bungaku: Kokoro': The Heart Of The Matter 
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
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Five Things About Those Five Glimpses Of The Live-Action 'Ghost In The Shell' 
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
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Let's Animate This: 'Dune' 
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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'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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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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Patreon '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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'Yoshitaka Amano: Illustrations': Amano Fans, Begin Here 
If you're leery of shelling out tons of money for artbooks devoted to only Yoshitaka Amano's 'Final Fantasy' or 'Vampire Hunter D' work, you now have an affordable starting point for understanding the man's entire career
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Tsutomu Nihei's 'Blame!': Sisyphus In The Labyrinth 
Tsutomu Nihei's debut manga is all industrial hellscapes, sudden violence, and science-fiction gloom -- and in those few things it's everything it needs to be
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'Legend of the Galactic Heroes, Vol. 2: Ambition' 
The second installment in Japan's foundational space opera de-emphasizes space war for civil war -- and for struggles within the spirits of the two main characters
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'Queen Emeraldas': Our Lady Of The Sea Of Stars 
Leiji Matsumoto's pulp action / space opera stories are really a kind of SF-tingled mythology; his 'Captain Harlock' successor, now out in English, is a fine example
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Welcome To Ganriki.org 2.0! 
Under the hood, we've been remaking Ganriki by way of an entirely new software platform, the basis for what we hope will be a faster, more immersive, and more engaging site
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'Empire of Corpses': Dead Man's Party 
Label anything 'steampunk' and the label tends to take over, but this fantasy from the late lamented Project Itoh is about more than just clockworks and longcoats
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Patreon 'Belladonna of Sadness': Satan Met A Lady 
Restored to its original psychedelic glory, this mad masterwork from Osamu Tezuka's studio goes from chic porn to feminist parable and everything in between
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'Only Yesterday': All The Things I Was 
Unseen in English since its original 1991 release, this Isao Takahata/Studio Ghibli production was more than worth the wait, and not just for its name recognition
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In Defense Of 'Berserk', Both Old And New 
The new 'Berserk' is a welcome extension to the original TV series, but it doesn't come at the expense of the '97 original -- what could?
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'Otaku no Video': Geeks4Life 
GAINAX's satire/mockumentary is fascinating as a time capsule from its moment in fandom history, but most of its insights are inadvertent -- that is, when it's not just being downright cruel
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