Gō Tanabe's two-volume adaptation of Lovecraft's classic novella shouldn't be missed by fans of that writer, by lovers of comic adaptations, or by those who want to see manga at its best
Satoshi Kon's mini-epic of one woman's journey in film across Japan's turbulent century starts with narrative games, but delves into the ultimate meaning of a person's life
A gorgeous homage to everything from Meiko Kaji's femme-violence films to 'Black Lagoon', but it's too top-heavy with plot and not resourceful enough about its own best ideas
Takashi Miike made Izo fifteen years ago, but it feels like the kind of movie someone would make at the end of their career—one which sums up a lifetime's ambitions, exceeds all one's earlier works, and may end up alienating everyone involved. Most every movie Miike has made revolved around the same question—why are we such violent monsters?—and Izo answers it by way of a movie that has no linear plot, no roots in objective reality, no hero to empathize with, no speck of hope, no ultimate answer (not that there could be one), not even a definite beginning or end. It is pretentious, exasperating, repetitive, violent, gory and obscurantist—and I defend it for exactly those reasons. I’m sure even Miike would agree that no one’s obliged to like it.
Whenever I describe Satoshi Kon’s manga, I use the term “cinematic", which is the most accurate way of describing how these pieces are experienced in my mind. While his links to the animation industry may play a role in this connection, his works possess an indescribable fluidity which forces my mind to process panels and pacing differently to other manga. This was prevalent within Dream Fossil, a compilation of short stories by the prolific mangaka and animator.
The most prominent animation studios in Japan have flavors to them the way this book publisher, or that record label, have such things. With Kyoto Animation, you know you're getting lustrous, top-caliber animation and heartfelt storytelling; with Polygon Pictures, it's using 3D technology to do what's now prohibitively expensive for hand-drawn work, but without sacrificing human feeling in the process. Studio 4°C, though, has always been about pushing visual and narrative boundaries: Mind Game, Harmony, and these two anthology films with an absolute murderer's row of contributing directors. They're keepers, even the lesser episodes, because they show what anime's luminaries can be all about when they're not trying to satisfy a prime-time audience.