meta: Science Fiction


2018


'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


'Shin Gojira': Bureauocalypse Now 
Hideaki Anno's 'reboot' of the Godzilla franchise focuses on teamwork, bureaucracy, and dogged persistence rather than individual heroics
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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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Characters Of Distinction: Motoko Kusanagi 
How the feminist, post-humanist, and deeply human heart of the 'Ghost In The Shell' franchise became, and remains, an icon and a model
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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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'Captain Harlock: Arcadia Of My Youth': Paradise Lost 
Leiji Matsumoto brings his mythmaking style to the origin story of his legendary space pirate, a showcase for both the best and worst instincts in the man's storytelling style
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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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'Gantz: O': Kill, Die, Repeat 
'Gantz' was never long on story to begin with, and so this new adaptation, an eye-popping CGI killstravaganza, works best as pure spectacle. Would that it didn't have to, though
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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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2016


'Ergo Proxy': I Think, Therefore You Are 
Few anime intended for mainstream consumption are this avowedly experimental; fewer still pull it off to the degree this one does
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'Kingsglaive: Final Fantasy XV': The State Of One Of The Arts 
As an introduction to the newest FF universe, it's perfectly adequate; as drama and storytelling, it's serviceable; as a technology demo, it's a triumph - much like the other FF films before it
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Let's Animate This: 'Dune' 
Twice filmed, and twice flawed in the filming, maybe the wise way to bring Frank Herbert's space (and spice) saga to the screen would be via an anime adaptation
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'Harmony': To Extreme Remedies, Extreme Sickness 
Project Itoh's 'medi-pocalypse' dystopia is all the more poignant in the wake of the author's untimely death, with a glossy (if also icy) anime adaptation now to accompany it
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Tsutomu Nihei's 'Blame!': Sisyphus In The Labyrinth 
Tsutomu Nihei's debut manga is all industrial hellscapes, sudden violence, and science-fiction gloom -- and in those few things it's everything it needs to be
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'Legend of the Galactic Heroes, Vol. 2: Ambition' 
The second installment in Japan's foundational space opera de-emphasizes space war for civil war -- and for struggles within the spirits of the two main characters
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'Queen Emeraldas': Our Lady Of The Sea Of Stars 
Leiji Matsumoto's pulp action / space opera stories are really a kind of SF-tingled mythology; his 'Captain Harlock' successor, now out in English, is a fine example
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'Empire of Corpses': Dead Man's Party 
Label anything 'steampunk' and the label tends to take over, but this fantasy from the late lamented Project Itoh is about more than just clockworks and longcoats
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'A-JIN': Live, Die, Repeat 
After 'Knights of Sidonia', Netflix and Polygon Pictures aim -- sucessfully -- for darker and harder-hitting territory
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'Ghost In The Shell: The New Movie': Only New On The Outside 
In the end, all the 'Ghost in the Shell: ARISE' continuity has done is lead us right back where we started
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'Dimension W': One-Dimensional 
Competent but ultimately tame, 'Dimension W' squanders an intriguing premise on a story that's more off-the-shelf than off-the-rails
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'Garm Wars: The Last Druid': History, And Oshii, Repeating Themselves 
Mamoru Oshii's live-action project is a sad misfire -- ponderous, pretentious, and worst of all, nothing he hasn't done before (and done better, too)
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'Legend of the Galactic Heroes': To Every Man His Star 
Available at last in English after decades of anticipation, this broad-gauge space opera doesn't require the justification of its fans to be considered worth the wait
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'Concrete Revolutio': They Could Be Heroes 
A sprawling anime answer to 'Watchmen', with all of the ambition -- and all of the shortcomings -- implied by such a thing
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