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 – The Forest of Love

TL;DR – Starts of being a look in how people explore trauma and then becomes a case study in abusive relationships    

Score – 1 out of 5 stars

Post-Credit Scene – I don’t know if there is a no post-credit scene

Warning – This film has extensive depictions of abuse

Review

I have watched a lot of films in my life and I have review hundreds of them over the years on this site. There have been a number of films that had I not been watching them for review I probably would have turned off the TV or walked out of the theatre but I haven’t because of a sense of professionalism. However, today we view a film that finally broke me. I have not seen the end of this film before writing the review, nor do I care to find out what happened.

So to set the scene, we open in on Japan, beset by news of a serial killer, as we see a certain Joe Murata (Kippei Shîna) being creepy as hell. Elsewhere there is a guy that is new to Tokyo and quickly befriends a bunch of filmmakers. They find out he is a virgin and so they take him to their friend, who then takes all of them to help get an old classmate to appear in their next play. That same classmate who Joe Murata has just set his eyes on.

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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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Movie Review – Weathering with You (Tenki no Ko, 天気の子)

TL;DR – There is a lot I could say about this film, but the most important thing is that there were times when I became overwhelmed with its beauty.    

Score – 4.5 out of 5 stars

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

Weathering with You (Tenki no Ko, 天気の子). Image Credit: Madman.

Review

Oh wow, just wow. I have seen a lot of films in my time, and a lot of animated films, but rarely do they have moments that just take my breath away. Today we get to take a look at a film that does just that by exploring a new world and mythology that might not be as familiar to people.

So to set the scene, we open in on Hina (Nana Mori) as she holds the hand of her mother in the hospital. Outside is nothing but rain, with the weather matching her life at that moment. But out of the corner of her eye, she sees one ray of sunshine and she runs to it. About a year later Hodaka (Kotaro Daigo) arrives by boat to Tokyo, he has run away from home and is looking for a new life in the big city. But life is tough and he ends up on the street where he relents and starts working for Keisuke Suga (Shun Oguri) who runs an occult magazine of dubious quality. However, while working he hears of a girl that can bring the sun, which given that it has already rained for a month is something that a lot of people are interested in.    

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