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'AKIRA' At 30-Something: The Manga At The End Of The World

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On having a reckoning with the god-emperor of modern manga, in a restored English-language edition at last

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'Bleach' (2018): Kid Janitor Of The Spirit World

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A dialed-down take on elements from the first major story arc of Tite Kubo's long-running shōnen actioner, it's no classic but no disaster either

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Let's Film This Again: 'Vampire Hunter D'

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Yes, it's been done before, but the possibilities of all-new adaptations of Hideyuki Kikuchi's long-running gothic-Western-punk light novel series are wider than ever

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'Un-Go': The Truth Will Out

These cyberpunk/SF mysteries drawn from the works of Ango Sakaguchi are intriguing for how they adapt a classic author, but grow far too gimmicky for their own good

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A trend I've found myself fascinated with is the honoring of classic Japanese authors by way of adapting their works into anime, often with the end result as removed from the original as a Caesar salad is from anything once rendered unto Caesar. Sometimes you get a classic to complement a classic (Night On The Galactic Railroad); sometimes you get unexpected delights (the various installments in the Aoi Bungaku series); sometimes you get meandering junk (the Edogawa Rampo riff Trickster). Here the author honored is Ango SakaguchiUn-Go, get it? — whose detective stories have been read and reread across decades. What they have been adapted into here is one part old-school detective story, one part cyberpunk, and one part nonsense. Unfortunately, the nonsense wins.

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'The Night Is Short, Walk On Girl': To The Break Of Dawn

Masaaki Yuasa's dizzying mini-epic begins as boy-seeks-girl and ends by circumnavigating entire universes of possibility

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Martin Scorsese once made a film named After Hours, about a hapless young man sucked into a seemingly endless, shambolic night of misunderstandings and chaos after a date he's on goes horribly wrong. Masaaki Yuasa's The Night Is Short, Walk On Girl, from Tomihiko Morimi (The Tatami Galaxy, The Eccentric Family)'s novel of the same name, is about another seemingly endless, shambolic night in the life of a guy and a girl, one that begins on the simplest of notes and ends by circumnavigating entire universes of possibility.

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'The Book Of The Dead': Illusions Of Life

A classic historical novel, in English for the first time, has a dazzling stop-motion animated adaptation to go with it from one of Japan's masters of that art

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Here is a project — a pair of projects, really — that I know might well be a difficult sell to casual audiences, but which are such distinct animals I feel bound to speak for them. There might well have been any number of ways to film Shinobu Orikuchi's 1934 elegiac historical novel The Book Of The Dead, but in 2005 Kihachirō Kawamoto chose to realize it by way of a mix of stop-motion animated puppetry and computer graphics. The result is summed up, I fear, by that entirely too precious adjective exquisite; it's a splendid example of how animation as an art form continues to manifest in ways that have nothing to do with the anime projects that commandeer the airwaves and constitute one of its single biggest cultural exports.

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