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'Dororo': Take (Back) Another Little Piece Of My Heart

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Osamu Tezuka's feudal-era supernatural epic manga gives us two antiheroes, mutilated in body and spirit alike, both seeking wholeness

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'Once and Forever: The Tales of Kenji Miyazawa'

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Out of print, but reissued thanks to New York Review Books, this collection of shorter works serves as a fine point of entry to a visionary author now getting his due in the West

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'Kamui Gaiden': Uncanny Valley Of The Ninja

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Get past the often terrible CGI, and you'll find a reasonably faithful movie adaptation of Sanpei Shirato's manga masterpiece

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'Hells': Infernal Affairs

Visually and stylistically uninhibited, but a narrative and logistical jumble, this afterlife fantasy is as divisive as it is inventive

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In theory, Yoshiki Yamakawa's Hells should be one of my favorite projects. It's not yet another story about kids in giant robots, it has world-devouring ambitions, and it's drawn and animated with so much style to burn they could have heated an entire apartment complex with it. In practice, it's messy, arbitrary, undisciplined: it wants to do so much, it gives itself a heart attack trying. But it also tries to do something entirely its own, and it has the complete courage of its utterly nutty convictions. It's worth seeing, if only to compare how everyone argues about it afterwards.

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'An Invitation From A Crab': Dreamland Hyperspace

panpanya's English-language debut rubs shoulders comfortably with the likes of 'Nichijou' for slice-of-life strangeness, but swathed in a far darker atmosphere

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On some evenings, after dinner but long before bedtime, I doze off briefly. I find myself in an environment that seems assembled from slices of various spaces in my life — schools, airports, hotels, city neighborhoods, hometown streets, shops, bedrooms, living rooms. All of them familiar and alien at the same time, much like the things that parade past me in those hybrid spaces. Someday, I told myself, I'd find a way to commit this dreamland hyperspace to a story or a drawing, but panpanya beat me most of the way to it with An Invitation From A Crab. It is also the only manga I have ever seen that has an index.

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Sōseki Natsume's 'Kokoro': One Classic, Three Translations

The great masterwork of modern Japanese fiction, by one of its all-time luminaries, has been translated multiple times, each version its own testament to the complexities of translation as an art

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Any work of Japanese literature is lucky to be translated into English even once. (There is still no English version of Kyūsaku Yumeno's surreal horror masterwork Dogura Magura. A man can dream.) Lucky, then, is Sōseki Natsume's masterwork Kokoro, among the most famed and beloved of Japanese novels, since it's been brought to English-language readers not once but three times: in 1948 by Ineko Kondo, in 1957 by Edwin McClellan, and in 2010 by Meredith McKinney. Put them side by side, and what emerges is not so much a winner as one that compromises the least and delivers the most. But you also see all the ways a translation is a compromise, and how some compromises weather better than others.

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