Kijū Yoshida's staggering epic of Japanese anarchists Sakae Ōsugi and Noe Ito defies categorization, synopsis, or easy answers
An all-new anime adaptation of Hiroaki Samura's classic long-running manga gets it right at last
Some of the finest animation around, lashed to the mast of a story that goes nowhere
Most every Mamoru Hosoda film has been about, not just a family, but Family. Mirai is about Family, with a capital F in case you didn't notice it, and halfway through I started quietly begging for it to be about something else, thank you. It does the one thing no movie should ever do: it makes us dread each successive scene. The core idea is not itself bad -- a kid's flights of fantasy to help him cope with the changes imposed by having a younger sister -- but the movie we get out of it is excruciating.
The problem with Makoto Shinkai is that he makes consistently beautiful films that are almost inevitably about so much less than you might think. Weathering With You, his latest, is as spectacular as any other movie he's done. And for about half its running time, it's also a good-to-great story, with characters we care about and a situation that has tremendous potential. Too bad about the second half, where it stops being about some kids who realize they have potentially enormous responsibilities to the world and starts becoming about nothing much at all.
Few things disappoint like an intriguing idea degenerating into a missed opportunity. Few things exhilarate like an intriguing idea that's just the starting point for one great leap after another. Birdy The Mighty: Decode, vastly expanded from an earlier OVA adaptation of a manga, begins with a premise that would be fun even if it were used for nothing more than a goofy comedy. Then it spirals out wider and wider until the original premise all but vanishes, replaced by something far more ambitious, far more fun, and far more intelligent. It's a great example of how science fiction and social comedy can fuse without compromising either end of the deal.