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Dec 8, 2019
These boys knew what they were doing. Tokyo Crisis is formulated beautifully to the beats of The Castle of Cagliostro. Lupin seeks a mysterious treasure under the guard of a nefarious aristocrat; glorious chase scenes follow; an innocent damsel is tied up with the mystery; political pressure on the always-resolute Zenigata causes him to despair, yet he pursues his sense of duty outside the law; Fujiko seeks the treasure by her own means; Jigen and Goemon exist as running gags rather than as primary characters. One could accuse it of imitation, but the fate of a long-running franchise is to perpetually tell the same story. ...
Oct 6, 2019
Mononoke Hime (Anime) add
Yeah, I'm spoiling it.

At the time of this writing, MyAnimeList's synopsis for Princess Mononoke concludes with the following line, “Princess Mononoke is a tale depicting the connection of technology and nature, while showing the path to harmony that could be achieved by mutual acceptance.” If you're trying to describe the film's theme to someone by distant memory, that's an understandable summary—but it's completely wrong. Miyazaki crafted a film that depicted the often brutal tension between civilization and wilderness, including a desperate yearning for harmony, but in no way lays out a path towards mutual acceptance and peace. His message is not an environmentalist or pacifist ...
Oct 4, 2019
A warning: this review/analysis completely spoils the whole shebang.

They give it away with the introductory text: "The advance of computerization, however, has not yet wiped out nations and ethnic groups." The techno-priests (our lovely writers) have begun their sermon with a questionable assumption that you might have read in the final chapters of your high-school's world history textbook: technological progress progressively unites the globe. Ah, but this is Japanese sci-fi. We're in for more than just generic societal unity; we're in for the cult of technological singularity—human extinction and/or computerized transcendence. And like it or not, the cult is doing pretty well for itself with ...
Sep 24, 2019
Takeshi Koike continues to churn out stylish, high-quality Lupin flicks. The recent main-line seasons (Part 4 and 5) have been chugging along at the higher end of mediocre, so Koike's intermittent additions to the franchise at the very least provide a breath of fresh air. Unfortunately, the new film loses the perfect simplicity of its predecessor (Goemon's Blood Spray) and regresses back to everything that was wrong with Jigen's Gravestone. That is, an overly-convoluted plot and obnoxious rape fetishism.

The Koike film series prioritizes high drama over the usual adventure-comedy tone that Lupin III is typically appreciated for. This works in Goemon's Blood Spray because Koike ...
Aug 16, 2019
After Hayao Miyazaki’s iteration of Lupin the Third, the “gentleman thief” was never the same. In fact, it wasn’t until The Castle of Cagliostro that he finally grew into that title. Lupin had long been the ungrateful, voluptuary heir to the more noble Arsene Lupin character of Leblanc’s French pulp stories. Until ’79, Lupin was the perverted anti-hero of cartoon antics; not today’s charming hero who prioritizes damsel-rescuing over gold-snatching. Some contemporary writers have taken Miyazaki’s approach to Lupin and driven it to absurd lengths, transforming him into an idealist to be a mouthpiece for their personal philosophies. Others have managed to retain the deviancy ...
Aug 4, 2019
Mixed Feelings
The Lupin III franchise consistently fails at one thing: theme. The manga of the 60’s and the original show of the 70’s consisted entirely of short and simple heists that were on the literary level of pulp. The “gentleman thief” didn’t steal treasures out of any grand Robin Hood ideal, but for the thrill of the sport. It became the perfect format for a long-running franchise: Lupin and his loyal cohorts have a game of wits with cartoonish villains only to have the femme fatale swipe the prize at the end. As the decades wore on, new writers wanted to add some depth to the ...
Jun 28, 2019
Akira (Anime) add
"It's too wild for you to handle."

I long ago lost count of how many times I’ve watched Akira, but my admiration of it has only grown with each viewing. I understand the many lukewarm reviews on this webpage from those blaring the “Overhyped!” and “Nonsensical!” alarms, and I particularly sympathize with fellow manga fans who find the adaptation lacking, but I also believe that all of these detractors simply don’t get it. Akira is a superb piece of art that, despite its failure to tell a coherent story to first-time viewers, stands tall as a lasting pinnacle of aesthetic and philosophy in the anime medium.

I ...
Apr 20, 2019
Redline (Anime) add
Redline: A Personal Statement

A common criticism of Takeshi Koike’s Redline is that it chooses style over substance, to a fault. In principle, I should be against the concept of style over substance. I hold various pretentious ideas in my head about the role of art in the human experience and what meaningful purpose it might serve to God. The idea of tossing out metaphysical or introspective meaning for greater aesthetic value sounds unpleasantly nihilistic (Jesus, what thesaurus did I fall asleep on last night?) One need only play through something as mainstream as Persona 5 to encounter artists’ idolatry of aesthetic value devolving into a ...
Apr 13, 2019
The new Boogiepop that we’ve somehow been blessed with in 2019 anno domini is an actual adaptation of Kouhei Kadono’s original light novels, unlike the previous Boogiepop Phantom (which was an interesting offshoot that only vaguely referenced the source material.) The new show has taken as its style an inconsistent timeline to make the overly-congested plot seem more complex and mysterious than it is. Though accurately adapted, the separate novels are crammed into just three-or-four-episode arcs for each. I wouldn’t say each light novel could last a full season, but they could certainly be more fleshed out. Nevertheless, it’s a great time for those who ...
Sep 19, 2018
I’m glad that Lupin III still attracts enough of an audience to fund the steady output of shows and films. I wouldn’t give the label “masterpiece” to much in the Lupin III franchise—maybe to The Castle of Cagliostro and a few of the specials from the 90’s—but I can always count on enjoyment no matter how corny the writing. I grew up on the Miyazaki film and so was destined to become a certified Lupin III fanboy. I can say I enjoyed the hell out of this season.

I struggled with Lupin III Part 5 for the first few episodes. I believe the words I ...

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