Article Archives


2021


'How Do You Live?': Letters To A Young Wonderer 
Not some genteel life-lessons story, but the quiet plea of a man resisting the growing militarism and reactionary violence of his world
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Netflix's 'Cowboy Bebop': A New Jam Session 
Lopsided, but still very enjoyable; if this hasn't raised the upper bound for anime-to-live-action, it sure has raised the lower bound
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'Cop Craft': An Isekai Lethal Weapon 
Your standard cop-buddy story, made only slightly more interesting by having the buddy being a magic-wielding paladin
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'I Am A Cat': All Humans Are Gray In The Dark 
A scaled-down adaptation of Sōseki Natsume's dark comedy of human nature as seen through the eyes of a cat, but with all its cutting humor intact
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'The Castle Of Cagliostro': Thief Of Hearts 
Anyone curious about 'Lupin III' or Hayao Miyazaki's career, start here, as this is a grandly entertaining introduction to both at once
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'Sailor Suit And Machine Gun: Graduation': Shots In The Dark 
A functionally competent follow-up to the cult classic, but when your ancestor is a cult classic, you want more than just functional follow-up
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'Sailor Suit And Machine Gun': She Shoots To Conquer 
This off-kilter 1981 comedy about a girl inheriting a crew of not-very-competent yakuza is an oddball masterwork that zags when you think it'll zig
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'Demon Pond': Spirits In The Material World 
A lavish adult fairytale, now restored in 4K, and featuring a mesmerizing performance by one of Japan's legendary onnagata
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'Ghost In The Shell: Stand Alone Complex': Twenty Minutes Into The Future 
When so much cyberpunk dates badly, the futurology of the first 'Ghost In The Shell' TV series remains thrillingly relevant almost twenty years later
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Akira Kurosawa's 'RAN': Omnia Vanitas 
Akira Kurosawa's samurai revision of 'King Lear', among the very greatest films ever made, returns to glory in a new 4K remaster
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'SK8 The Infinity': No Wheels, No Life 
One of the smash hit shows of the year that's both fun to watch and touches on deeper things without getting lost in the weeds
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'The Sea And Poison': The Cure That Kills 
Kei Kumai's chilling film version of Shūsaku Endō's equally grim novel remains all but unseen outside of Japan, but deserves a wider audience despite its queasy subject of wartime culpability
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'Memories': Three By Otomo & Co. 
Katsuhiro Otomo's anthology project dazzlingly animates three of his stories, showing more sides to the man most only know through 'AKIRA'
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'Arion': Whom The Gods Would Destroy ... 
Calling it an anime 'Clash Of The Titans' falls far short; this staggeringly ambitious respinning of Greek mythic adventure is a must-see
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'No Longer Human' (2019): Dead Man Writing 
A splashy but unmoving look at the last years of Osamu Dazai's dissolute life, with much screen time sensibly devoted to the women he manipulated on the way down
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'Evil Dead Trap 2: Hideki': The Lady Killers 
A deeply unappreciated David Lynch-esque jolter, from two major writers of anime live-action adaptations; a horror-feminist project that deserves reexamination with fresh eyes
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'Evil Dead Trap': Monster In The House 
A classic 1980s Japanese horror effort, a ferocious Dario Argento homage that invents at least as much as it borrows or nods at
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Gakuryū Ishii's 'Punk Samurai Slash Down': Anarchy In The JP 
Gakuryū Ishii's wild adaptation of the equally wild cult novel is one part 'Gojoe', one part 'Burst City' and two parts Coen Brothers
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Barbet Schroeder's 'Inju': Rampo Wept 
An attempt to both modernize and partly Westernize Edogawa Rampo's thriller falls flat on both counts
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'Yasuke': Black Steel In The Hour Of Chaos 
A wildly stylized project that bodes well for future trans-Pacific productions -- but which might have been just as good without being wildly stylized
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