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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 politics. Others have managed to retain the deviancy read more
Aug 4, 2019
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 read more
Jun 28, 2019
Akira (Anime) add (All reviews)
"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 read more
Apr 20, 2019
Redline (Anime) add (All reviews)
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 read more
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 read more
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 read more
Sep 9, 2018
Takeshi Koike, all praise due.

On a whim, I put in my bluray of The Woman Called Fujiko Mine the other day. It had been a while since I first watched the show and it was a lot… stranger than I remembered. No matter what you think about its bizarre plot and gratuitous nudity, the style is undeniably fantastic (Koike's handiwork, judging by the staff credits.) The two recent offshoots of the show share the style but, as feature films, have far simpler plots. In my opinion, this works in their favor.

Goemon Ishikawa’s Spray of Blood—what a fucking title—is, first and foremost, beautiful. Not only does read more
Aug 19, 2018
It’s an old story. The hero is Musashi Miyamoto; the greatest samurai who ever lived, author of that esoteric sword-fighting guide that I couldn’t get past the first page of. His legend was brought to a more international audience with the film series starring Toshiro Mifune. While it would be impossible for another actor to outperform Mifune as the samurai master, the realm of manga can achieve the impossible. I was never a huge manga geek, but I’ve read a decent amount of the most highly-acclaimed. Vagabond is without a doubt the most incredibly drawn manga I’ve ever read.

The way of the sword in Japan read more
Oct 30, 2016
"The Birth of the Cool" may have occurred with Miles Davis, but in the realm of anime and manga we owe it to Monkey Punch and his bizarre tales of Lupin the Third for laying the foundation of "Cool."

I don’t know what it is about recent Lupin III specials and shows, but there’s a strange tendency for the writers to attempt a complex, philosophical plot that feels very out of place with the classic cast of characters that make up the Lupin III franchise. Thinking about it, even decades ago we had plots like this, many specials attempting to delve into the supernatural or sci-fi read more
Aug 9, 2015
So the whole of Mushishi has finally come to a close, unless Urushibara wants to write any more. It’s impressive how nearly exact the full anime has been as an adaptation. Excluding one or two original episodes, they’ve all been incredibly true to the original chapters. This one really gets into that concrete manifestation of the Tao that I’m always raving about Mushishi; bringing in nature’s law as an actual sort of character. It’s really just another Mushishi episode just doubled in length, but I did always think that it was a perfect finale for the manga and so it is a perfect finale for read more