TV Review – Ghost in the Shell: SAC_2045: Season 1

TL;DR – This is an ambitious return into the world of Ghost in the Shell that exceeds expectation in some areas but I am not sure the overarching story is going to work for everyone.

Score – 3.5 out of 5 stars

Ghost in the Shell: SAC_2045. Image Credit: Netflix.

Review

There are a couple of shows that serve as a gateway into the world of anime. One of the greats is Ghost in the Shell a grand cyber-punk post-human jaunt into the future. For a lot of people, it was the movie that was their first contact, but for me, it was the Ghost in the Shell SAC. It was this, bright bold explosion, exploring religion, philosophy, what it meant to be alive. Since then I have wondered if anyone could capture that again, and the less said about that movie the better. Well, today we get a chance to see as we dive back into the world of Major Motoko Kusanagi (Atsuko Tanaka/Mary Elizabeth McGlynn).      

In the time since the show and movie, the world has become a very different place. The G4, that is America, China, Russia, and the European Union, moved the world into an economical system called Sustainable War, which sounds about as bad as it. This is escalated by the Global Simultaneous Default when all the world’s financial system collapsed at the same time. Since Section 9 had been disbanded, most of the team joined in on the sustainable war effort as a mercenary team called Ghost. They worked their way up from South America and at the start of the series they are travelling through the ruins of Palm Springs. They are there to stop a raid on the gated section of Los Angeles but there is more going on than they first thought. Now we will be looking at the series as a whole and as such there will be some [SPOILERS] ahead.  

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Movie Review – Altered Carbon: Resleeved

TL;DR – It’s fine, nothing amazing but not a complete mess.    

Score – 3 out of 5 stars

Post-Credit Scene – There is no post-credit scene

Altered Carbon: Resleeved. Image Credit: Netflix.

Review

I’ve been quite enjoying the jaunts into the world of Altered Carbon as of late. A world of switching bodies and switching cast members. A world of excesses and a world of death that is only real death half the time. I’ve watched both seasons, so when I heard there was an animated movie, well I had to give it a watch and well … it’s fine.

So after the events of the Second Season (I think, but I’m not entirely sure), we open on the planet Latimer. Here a young girl Holly (Brittany Cox/ Ayaka Asai) is running from her life through the upper streets as air cars and large holograms walk around her. She is being chased by two thugs, who are trying to catch her. Running into a club she is almost at a needle casting facility when a ninja slaughters the two thugs and turns on her. Things are bad but then Takeshi (Ray Chase/ Tatsuhisa Suzuki) arrives to save the day. Teaming up with local CTAC operator Gina (Elizabeth Maxwell/ Rina Satô) they get Holly to the safety of the Yakuza or as it turns out maybe into significantly more danger than she was before.

Now, this is an interesting film, in that we are usually a bit cagier about spoilers with films, but then it is also hard to talk about this film without getting into spoilers for both past seasons and a big reveal in this film. So with that in mind, there will be some big [SPOILERS] around character points going forward but not for the ending.

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Movie Review – Sol Levante

TL;DR – An interesting vignette, but more focusing on the style than the substance      
Score – 4 out of 5 stars

Post-Credit Scene – There is no post-credit scene

Sol Levante. Image Credit: Netflix.

Review

I mentioned earlier this week with Familiar Strangers, that it was the shortest film that I had ever reviewed for the sight, well not three days later we are going to beat that record with Sol Levante. An animated short made in 4K HD that I don’t think anyone in the world is going to see at 4K at least not for the foreseeable future.

This is an interesting film to review because there is not a whole lot to it, but then it also feels like there is a bit more to it than first appears. There is not a story, bar a young woman fighting I want to say demons across a shifting landscape. There are quite a few of these set-piece moments that the fit into the three minutes run time that hint at things. It is a film that fits into the sort of nexus of fantasy, science fiction, and spiritual genres and is steeped in symbolism if nothing else.  

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Movie Review – NiNoKuni (Ni no Kuni/二ノ国)

TL;DR – A really good film up until the point it gets bogged down in its own worldbuilding   

Score – 3.5 out of 5 stars

Post-Credit Scene – There is a post-credit scene

NiNoKuni (Ni no Kuni/二ノ国). Image Credit: Netflix.

Review

It has been a long road trying to adapt video games to the big screen and so far there have not been many (if any) that have actually pulled it off. Some have got close and today we take a look at one that also is very close, even if it just does not quite get there.  

So to set the scene, in Japan, there are three good friends Kotona (Abby Trott), Haru (Alejandro Saab), and Yu (Max Mittelman). Kotona and Haru are a couple and Yu is the third wheel, but not really, though he is confined to a wheelchair after a childhood accident that killed his parents. Life is great, school is good, however, all is ripped apart when one-day Kotona realises that she is being stalked by a creep. Yu and Haru rush to help her but they are too late when they arrive a masked figure stabs Kotana with a weird blade. They rush to try and get her to a hospital when in the middle of the street they are ripped into another world and now Kotona is missing, their phones are compasses, and everything is different.

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Article – Why I Love Cowboy Bebop (カウボーイビバップ/Kaubōi Bibappu)

TL;DR – Its music, story, animation, worldbuilding, and characters that you really care for even though they are all broken in some way

Cowboy Bebop (カウボーイビバップ/Kaubōi Bibappu). Image Credit: Madman.

Article

A while back I took a moment to write about Why I loved Star Trek DS9 and since it was a great time of writing I have been meaning to get back at it again. I had a couple of choices but with the announcement that Netflix is producing a ten-episode live-action remake of Cowboy Bebop, well I got instantly dragged back in time to my high school days when the show rippled through my life with every beat of those conga drums, and well I instantly knew what to do next. Why Cowboy Bebop? Well, there are a lot of reasons, the music, story, animation, characters, but more than anything, it was the way it shaped how I viewed television and animation as a medium and got me more and more interested with how it is all made. It is also one of the go-to shows, as well as Samurai Champloo (サムライチャンプル), that I recommend whenever someone want to start exploring animation. So with that in mind let us dive into the neo-noir space-western from Shinichirō Watanabe (渡辺 信一郎) all about trying to escape the past and then realising that you can’t, and then also Ed, hello Ed.

In the Cowboy Bebop world, the human race has expanded out into the Solar System when the first Astral Gate (a faster than light transport system) exploded next to The Moon raining down Luna debris on Earth. The world had one choice escape or die on Earth and so they expanded out terraforming the Moons of Jupiter, Venus, creating the crater cities of Mars, and also Asteroid outposts across the Solar System like Tijuana (TJ). By 2071, because the human race is spread out across such a large region of space it has meant that enforcing law and order has become a challenge, so the powers at be implemented a bounty system and so Cowboys spread out chasing bounties and bringing back criminals to face justice … for a fee of course. This is where we meet our crew of the Bebop the ship they travel around the Solar System catching criminals while trying not to have to spend all its bounty on repairs.  

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Movie Review – Sturgill Simpson Presents Sound & Fury (Sound & Fury)

TL;DR – A fascinating combination of animation and music, all this a real purpose and theme that made it a intriguing work of art.     

Score – 4 out of 5 stars

Post-Credit Scene – There is a post-credit scene

Sturgill Simpson Presents Sound & Fury (Sound & Fury). Image Credit: Netflix.

Review


Earlier this year I mentioned that back in the day Daft Punk created this animated accompaniment to one of their albums and that it was surprising that no one else had really explored this as well. That was at the start of the year since then we have had multiple artists combine an album release with a short film accompaniment. We have had the highs of Anima,The Bash Brothers Experience, and Guava Island. Well, today we get add another to that list with the truly fascinating Sound & Fury.

While there is a story referenced though some recurring moments, it is more a work that focuses on mood and theme. If I was to label it I would say it is a meditation on a post-apocalyptic world by way of Japanese animation and heaping of Mad Max car action and sheer absurdity all put to a rock anthem. This, I hope, will give you some idea as to just how weird this music video/experience is, but also how fascinatingly interesting it is.

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Exploring The Past – Neon Genesis Evangelion (Shinseiki Evangerion, 新世紀エヴァンゲリオン) (1995)

TL;DR – An ambitious series drawing inspiration from multiple religious and mystical frameworks that while pioneering in many respects, completely fails to stick the landing

Score – 3.5 out of 5 stars

Neon Genesis Evangelion (新世紀エヴァンゲリオン, Shinseiki Evangerion). Image Credit: Netflix.

Review

Today I get to finally explore the third pillar of 1990s sci-fi anime with the massively influential Neon Genesis Evangelion. For me, this was almost a form of closure given how much I have watched the other two pillars Cowboy Bebop and Ghost in the Shell but I never got to see Evangelion. It was also interesting to see a show that has been massively influential to the genre but watching it with 20 years of extra context on top of it. Well if nothing else, the ending stinger to last year’s Desert Bus now makes sense. With that in mind, let’s dive in and explore Hideaki Anno’s work of gods, and angels, and science, and man.

So to set the scene, in the year 2000 a great calamity arouse across the world when the second impact occurred in Antarctica blasting the icy continent to ruin and melting all its ice causing extensive flooding across the world. The UN authority declared that the cause was a giant meteorite impact, hence common term of it being ‘the second impact’ (okay sort of, but also sort of not, it gets complicated). However, this is all a cover, because what really happened is that a creature of great power was discovered under the ice, this Angel was called Adam and something the researchers did trigger him destroying everything. 15 years later, Shinji Ikari (Megumi Ogata/ Spike Spencer/ Casey Mongillo) is running through deserted streets to a pick-up location. The whole area has gone into emergency lockdown for some unknown reason, and that reason turns out to be a second angel that everyone kind of expected was coming. Just before he is crushed, Shinji is rescued by Captain Misato Katsuragi (Kotono Mitsuishi/ Allison Keith/ Carrie Keranen) and taken to Tokyo-3 where a secretive organisation Nerv has their headquarters. The leader of Nerv is Shinji’s father Gendo Ikari (Fumihiko Tachiki/ Tristan MacAvery/ Ray Chase) who is at best distant, but a more fair description would be icy or even abusive. However, Shinji does not have time to process that because he is announced to be the Third Child, and one of only a few people that can pilot an Evangelion which he has to do like now.

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Exploring the Past – Your Name (Kimi no Na wa, 君の名は) (2016)

TL;DR – Beautiful and yet also a bit melancholy. It takes what is a quite tired trope of cinema and breathes new life into it.

Score – 4 out of 5 stars

Post-Credit Scene – There is no post-credit scene

Your Name (Kimi no Na wa, 君の名は). Image Credit: Madman.

Review

Last week I managed to catch a showing of a new anime film Weathering With You. It was beautiful, bittersweet, visually stunning, and emotionally resonate. Well after having such a profound experience with that film I had a look back at director/writer Makoto Shinkai’s filmography and came across Your Name. I had missed it when it can out in cinemas, so I made sure to check it out as soon as I could. Well one week later and what would you know, here it was live on the SBS Movie channel here in Australia and boy was it worth the watch.      

So to set the scene, Mitsuha Miyamizu (Mone Kamishiraishi) lives in a quiet village in the mountains of Japan’s Hida region. Itomori is a town with a long history of tradition but also of tragedy with fires destroying much of the town’s history. Mitsuha is a Miko (shrine maiden) in the Shinto temple that her family runs under the watchful hands of her grandmother Hitoha (Etsuko Ichihara). Mitsuha is frustrated with her life and where it is going and dreams of leaving her small town and moving to the big city in Tokyo. Well one day she gets her wish, but when she wakes up in the body of Taki Tachibana (Ryûnosuke Kamiki) a high school boy living in Tokyo, things don’t quite go the way she plans.     

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TV Review – Cannon Busters: Season 1

TL;DR – This is a well-made animation, with an interesting story, world and characters. Full of interesting juxtapositions like magic and technology. 

Score – 4 out of 5 stars

Cannon Busters. Image Credit: Netflix.

Review

I was thinking the other day of my joy at the old Monkey Magic stories. It had me wonder that it has been a long time since I have seen a good travel story where a group of disparate people are brought together through fate and then discover all their flaws and joys in the face of shared adversity. Well as fate would have it just a couple of days later a little surprise dropped on Netflix which was everything I didn’t know I wanted.  

So to set the scene, we open in on a desert wasteland on an alien (maybe) planet with a disintegrating moon floating in orbit. Our first clue that this is an interesting place is the image of a giant bull trampling across the plains in search of a toilet. We cut to a town on the frontier full of dust, wood, and a casual disregard for life. There are humans and other creatures, and all sorts of robots, mechs, and mechanical augmentations. In the streets walks Sam (A Special Associate Model) (Kamali Minter) from the faraway kingdom of Botica. She does not seem to fit the tone of the local area, making friends in a land of gunfights and wanton murder. But she is on a mission to find a lost prince and the one person who can help her do that Philly the Kid (Kenn Michael). One issue is that he does not really want to help, also he is cursed and can’t die, also he had a large bounty on him that everyone is trying to collect. So Sam, Philly, and Casey (Kamali Minter) a maintenance droid head off on the mission in their pink coin-operated Mustang that can transform into a bull. Now from here, we will be looking at the season as a whole, so there will be some [SPOILERS] ahead.

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Movie Review – Enter the Anime

TL;DR – This is a film that blends the idea of an advertisement with the presentation of a documentary and works about as well as you would expect    

Score – 2.5 out of 5 stars

Post-Credit Scene – There is no post-credit scene

Enter the Anime. Image Credit: Netflix.

Review

Growing up, one of the touchstones in my early cinematic life was anime, you would get it in the morning on TV, which I had to tape on VCR for watching later. Indeed, I think every one of my generations loathed those opening sounds of the first episode of Pokémon because it meant that Cheez TV had run out of new episodes and was starting it from the beginning again. As I grew up, it was a part of my cinematic world that I just couldn’t keep up with, and every time I go to conventions I see an array of cosplayers showing my just how many shows I have missed. Well when I saw that there was a new documentary about anime on Netflix, I was really interested because it would be nice to walk down memory lane and to explore the future again. Unfortunately, that is not quite what we got.

The premise for this documentary is that Netflix set the director Alex Burunova of working out the answer to a question ‘What is Anime’? Alex, having no experience with the genre other than a tangential understanding of its influence decided to throw herself into the world of anime and manga and the sub-cultures that consume and make it. This, of course, meant going straight to the source and talking with the directors and animators where it is all made in Japan. It is good that right from the start, they make it clear where the genesis of this project came from, it was a Netflix project and Alex was hired to make it. So when the documentary goes to Adi Shankar the creator of the Castlevania Netflix series as its first interview it feels like the right jumping-off point for the show. Well instead of jumping off from there, this is where the show stayed.

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