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'Illang: The Wolf Brigade': Defanged

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Jee-woon Kim's live-action adaptation of Mamoru Oshii's 'Jin-Roh: The Wolf Brigade' is passable on its own, but doesn't come close to the primal shadow-play sorcery of the original

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Natsuo Kirino's 'Out': The Katori Corpse Disposal Service

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Natsuo Kirino's nervy thriller pits four working-class women against Japanese society -- not just its seedy underbelly, but its whole stacked deck of capital, class, and sex

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'Yoshitaka Amano: The Illustrated Biography'

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The man who gave us the visuals for 'Vampire Hunter D', 'Final Fantasy', 'Angel's Egg', and much more, finally has his own story in print for English-speaking audiences

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'AKIRA' At 30-Something: The Manga At The End Of The World

On having a reckoning with the god-emperor of modern manga, in a restored English-language edition at last

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It's impossible not to be intimidated. Not just by the sheer physical size of the thing — a chipboard box big enough to hold one of my cats and about twice as heavy — but by the legacy. AKIRA is as foundational as it gets for manga in the modern age. And yet for the longest time I never engaged with it directly, always putting it off. Then came a weekend, many months after this artifact arrived at my house, when I just flipped open the top of the box and pulled out the first volume. Almost immediately, I felt resistance: a work this sprawling, mean, flat-out nihilistic is hard to take in these precarious times. But maybe there is never a "good" time to deal with any creative work, just whatever time on earth we have to spare, and my regret was quickly replaced with, as I had anticipated, both awe and ambivalence.

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'Bleach' (2018): Kid Janitor Of The Spirit World

A dialed-down take on elements from the first major story arc of Tite Kubo's long-running shōnen actioner, it's no classic but no disaster either

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Sometimes the best thing you can say about something is that it dodged the right bullets. The live-action adaptation of Tite Kubo's long-running manga Bleach isn't anywhere nearly as lamentable as the rinky-dink live-action adaptation of Fullmetal Alchemist that previously polluted our screens. Here, things have also been dialed down and constrained to fit into a two-hour timeslot and a modest budget, but that actually helps here — instead of making the film cheap and tedious, it keeps it from being overwhelmed by its baggy source material. Still, the end result is only okay instead of great, and maybe that's only because we have such recent examples of how to do this sort of thing so spectacularly well.

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Let's Film This Again: 'Vampire Hunter D'

Yes, it's been done before, but the possibilities of all-new adaptations of Hideyuki Kikuchi's long-running gothic-Western-punk light novel series are wider than ever

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Every now and then there comes a property that seems so perfectly suited to a live-action adaptation, especially by way of today's filmmaking technology, that it's not only inexplicable but downright sad that it hasn't happened. Vampire Hunter D, Hideyuki Kikuchi's long-running light novel series, has all the right ingredients for a Western live-action feature: a taciturn dark hero; an eldritch and thoroughly cinematic setting; more source material to choose from than there are sands in the shores of the Ganges; and — most importantly — a property that doesn't need to be altered in the slightest to be adapted well.

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