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