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'Steins;Gate': Stand Back, We're Going To Try Weird Science

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How comedic banter, science-fiction mind-bending, and an irresistible cast of characters combined alchemically to make one of anime's best moments in recent years

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'The Face Of Another': Confessions Of A Mask

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Kōbō Abe's novel, and Hiroshi Teshigahara's film adaptation, explore an extreme case: a disfigured man given a new face to present to the world, and thus all the perils of existential absolute freedom

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'Black Lagoon': Boiled Harder

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The animated adaptation of Rei Hiroe's ferocious homage to '80s action and Hong Kong cinema has all the attitude and muscle of its source, and also all its soul and insight

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'Samurai Champloo': The Mix

At the Venn intersection of "47 Ronin" and "Cash Rules Everything Around Me" is this glorious jumble of period samurai adventure, road movie, anti-romantic triangle, comedy, drama, and stone cold classic

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sa·mu·rai n. 1: military nobility of feudal Japan; from verb meaning to wait upon or accompany a person in the upper ranks of society

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'Tetsuo II: Body Hammer': Metamorphoses

Shinya Tsukamoto's follow-up (side-quel?) to his immortal debut is not quite as arresting or inspired, but it has many fascinating aspects all the same

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The genius of the original Tetsuo: The Iron Man was that it explained nothing. The problem with Tetsuo II: Body Hammer is that it explains everything. To use a phrase I've borrowed before, it cuts open the drum to see what makes it go bang. But that doesn't make it an entirely bad film, just not as successful a one as its predecessor. It also functions as a key step in Shinya Tsukamoto's evolution as a filmmaker, away from purely instinctual storytelling and towards the more elegant fusion of instinct and intellect that has since become his hallmark. A stumbling step, but a step all the same.

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'Tetsuo: The Iron Man': Full Metal Mutation

Thirty years later, Shinya Tsukamoto's frenzied masterwork of cyberpunk body horror still seethes like nothing else on film

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The one term that comes most to my mind when trying to describe Tetsuo: The Iron Man is not "body horror" or "cyberpunk". It's "handmade". Shinya Tsukamoto's first feature-length film seems like it was hot-glued together in a junkyard, shot on decades-old Army surplus film stock, and scored with a cheap Casio SK-1 sampler. Those are also all the reasons it works. A movie this frenzied, brutal, and gut-level can't look too slick. Rawness also ages more gracefully than gloss (yesterday's sleek is tomorrow's tacky), and so thirty years on Tetsuo's landmark status remains undimmed, still as gloriously outlandish and uninhibited as ever.

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