meta: Recommended


2018


'Devilman Crybaby': Sympathy From The Devil 
Maverick director Masaaki Yuasa retells one of Gō Nagai's infamous operas of ultraviolence, with Yuasa adding both his trademark psychedelic visuals and a story that ultimately aims to break your heart, not just turn your stomach
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'Genocidal Organ': Death Sentences 
The third and final movie adapted from Project Itoh's novels retains the timely and unsettling ideas from its source material, but also its dramatic awkwardness
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2017


'Funeral Parade Of Roses': Party Like It's 1969 
More than forty years later, Toshio Matsumoto's psychedelic whirlpool of counterculture sexuality and continuity-shattering New Wave filmmaking remains a one-of-a-kind blast of cinematic fresh air
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Patreon 'Mind Game': You Can Live ... Or You Can Live It Up 
Masaaki Yuasa's psychedelic masterwork is the 'Joe Vs. The Volcano' of animated films, about daring to snatch life from the jaws of the world
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Patreon The 'Silence' Of Shusaku Endō, Masahiro Shinoda, And Martin Scorsese 
On two film adaptations, entirely dissimilar but equally fascinating, of a Japanese novel about the persecution of Christians in Tokugawa-era Japan
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Patreon 'Kaiba': This Body Holding Me 
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 
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 
'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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'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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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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Patreon Seijun Suzuki's 'Taishō Trilogy': Erotic, Grotesque, Romantic 
Japan's Roaring Twenties are both backdrop and stage for these three excursions into the delirious, the decadent, and the surreal
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'Haibane Renmei': The Kids In God's Waiting Room 
An allegory, wrapped in a mystery, served up as a children's tale
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'In This Corner Of The World': Life During Wartime 
A masterwork, not just of period reconstruction and attention to the details of daily life, but also for the ways it navigates through the tricky issues of a story about WWII Japan without stumbling
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'Peepo Choo': Turning Japanese 
Felipe Smith's 2010 manga did more than show a Western creator could make use of the form; it provided a riotous critique of the very audience that might seek it out
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Gō Tanabe And The Hounds Of Love(craft) 
If the rest of Gō Tanabe's manga adaptations of H.P. Lovecraft's horror classics are as good as this first volume, we're overdue for seeing more of one of manga's thus-far hidden treasures
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'The Astonishing Work of Tezuka Osamu' 
The 'god of manga' directed animated films, too; curated here is an eye-opening array of shorts made available for English-speaking audiences
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'Outlaw Star': Once Upon A Time In Outer Space 
A poor man's 'Cowboy Bebop'? Maybe an anime 'Guardians Of The Galaxy'; either way, 'Outlaw Star' has its share of pulp-space-opera-sitcom delights
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Netflix's 'BLAME!': Killy Walk With Me 
Recast into a two-hour movie, Tsutomu Nihei's metamorphic cyberpunk hellscape manga emerges all the more as a graduate of the 'Mad Max'/Man With No Name school of drifter/loner heroes
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Patreon 'Carried by the Wind: Tsukikage Ran': Crouching Tigress, Nitwit Dragon 
It looks at first to be a mere genderswapped spoof of the samurai genre, but underneath it's actually a loving and observant homage to all the great things about those stories of lone wolves vs. corrupt power
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'Ghost In The Shell' (2017): The Americanization of Motoko 
The most fascinating thing about the Western remake of 'Ghost In The Shell' is how what seemed most problematic about it -- Scarlett Johansson in the lead role -- is leveraged as a thematic element in the film itself
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'Osamu Tezuka's Metropolis': Little Robot In The Big City 
In the hands of 'Akira' creator Katsuhiro Ōtomo and 'Dagger of Kamui' director Rintaro, Osamu Tezuka's early manga became a wide-gauge spectacle that retained its childlike innocence and soul
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'The Ghost In The Shell': Motoko Kusanagi, The Early Years 
If you're a first-time reader of Masamune Shirow's manga, progenitor of a whole name-brand cyberpunk franchise, the original will be as striking for its slapstick and satirical jabs as it is for its vision of a future still coming true today
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'Ghost In The Shell 2: Innocence': Farewell, My Lovely 
Everything that was both grand and frustrating about Oshii's original 'Ghost In The Shell' film is redoubled in its follow-up, a visionary work that neglects to give its characters their own voices
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Patreon 'The Tatami Galaxy': Have I Been In This Room Before? 
When the director of 'Mind Game' and the author of 'The Eccentric Family' got together, they created a comedic masterpiece that plays like 'Groundhog Day' fused with both of those visionary projects
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2016


'Barakamon': The Problem With Getting Away From It All Is You Always Take It All With You 
Having a city slicker hit the sticks isn't an innovative story by itself, but 'Barakamon' has heart, humor, and some surprising insight into what makes creative people tick
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