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Japan Roundup: September 18, 2017

Shinichiro Watanabe brings us a 'Blade Runner' short; the, er, brilliant 'Land Of The Lustrous' hits the small screen; and Kar-Wai Wong has an Amazon series in the works

Japan Roundup: September 11, 2017

'Tatami Galaxy' comes to Crunchyroll; 'Funeral Parade of Roses' lands on Blu-ray after a 4K restoration; and a live-action 'Hyouka' is set to drop

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© 2008 Masaaki Yuasa · MADHOUSE/KAIBA Partners kaiba-00.jpg

'Kaiba': This Body Holding Me

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Masaaki Yuasa's psychedelic exploration of the mutability of bodies and memories, in the form of a child's tale, is a one-of-a-kind masterwork

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Natsume Ono's 'not simple': Human Ruins

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The creator of 'ACCA: 13' and 'House Of Five Leaves' also gave us this haunting story of a young man thrown onto life's scrap heap

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Takeshi Kitano's 'Violent Cop': Contents Under Pressure

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'Beat' Takeshi Kitano's first outing as director remains among his best movies -- and also among his most nihilistic and unforgiving

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'Neo Yokio': Rising Below Badness

It's not good, to be sure -- but maybe being its own special kind of bad is more valuable than we think

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It's easy to say Neo Yokio is a bad show, and not just because plenty of others have taken a number and gotten in line to proclaim so. It's shabby-looking, goofy, with a thoroughly dumb storyline and characters with all the depth of pie plates. The key is in seeing how all this is entirely deliberate — how the show is a sly, tongue-in-cheek love letter to all the ways anime could be "cheap and weird", to use a coinage from my associate Lauren Orsini. To that end, anime fans will clue in fastest to how the show is a knowing wink to all the ways the things they love can be both great and idiotic at the same time. That said, there's no obligation for anyone else to get on board. Not unless they really want to, anyway.

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'Blade Runner Black Out 2022': Dangerous Days, In Brief

It's to 'Blade Runner' as 'The Animatrix' was to 'The Matrix', but to fine (if abbreviated) effect -- and maybe it'll be the first of more

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The simple algebra for Blade Runner Black Out 2022 is that it's to Blade Runner and Blade Runner 2049 as an episode of The Animatrix was to The Matrix generally — a short film that provides background detail about a pivotal event in the Runner-verse, one presumably to be expanded on when 2049 fills theaters in a couple of weeks. It's beautifully animated, although it is designed less to tell a story than illustrate a vignette. But it's most significant as an example of how tentpole entertainments, especially SF/fantasy creations set in extended universes, are more than ever multimedia. That term that seemed already hoary and shopworn by the year 2000, but it's the best word to describe what's going on here.

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Victor Santos's 'Rashōmon': Edo Noir

A clever and inventive retelling of three classic Japanese samurai-era tales, channeled through detective-noir sensibilities

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The story you are thinking of is not, in fact, named "Rashōmon". Its real name is "In A Grove", and it is one of two Ryūnosuke Akutagawa stories (the other one being "Rashōmon") that Akira Kurosawa fused into a single tale and adapted into his groundbreaking 1950 film. Comic artist Victor Santos has done much the same thing here, taking not only "In A Grove" and "Rashōmon", but also the tale of of the 47 rōnin, and using them as raw material for a mystery/thriller mini-saga. "Edo noir", I guess you could call it—two stories driven by a need to know the truth, no matter how convoluted, subjective, or disillusioning.

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