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Aug 29, 2013
Redline (Anime) add (All reviews)
Strap your ass in: Redline is the most pulse-racing, ridiculous anime in years. It’s basically Japan’s version of the Wacky Races, only more mature, pumped full of adrenaline and style, and wrapped up in the prettiest package imaginable. The film’s tagline is “Witness the future of animation,” and as pompous as it might sound, it’s no exaggeration. Seven years and hundreds of thousands of hand-drawn frames later, Madhouse has produced its masterpiece. Lush, imaginative worlds combine with a staggering attention to detail, gorgeous, bold character designs, and flawless animation to create a work that is as good as if not better looking than anything else read more
Jul 29, 2013
Pale Cocoon might be the best little sci-fi OVA ever made. In just 23 minutes, Yasuhiro Yoshiura does what most fail to do in 23 hours: makes a fascinating and original point, and does it while telling a great story. Many will inevitably compare this to Voices of a Distant Star, another ambitious 20 minute sci-fi film, but unlike its well-known peer Pale Cocoon is far more than flashy production values. This is short storytelling at its finest, and its only fault is leaving you wishing there were more.

At first glance, the film could be interpreted as just another environmental tale of woe. And in read more
Jul 17, 2013
Voices of a Distant Star — the work that made Makoto Shinkai famous and touched the hearts of angsty teenagers everywhere. Feel free to help me understand why this is revered. I get that it’s remarkable that Shinkai did everything but the music, but I fail to see how it gives him license to write a hollow story and be called the next Miyazaki for it.

Let’s start with the good. Shinkai is a master of animation, arguably the best in the business, and Voices of a Distant Star is no exception. While it may have been made by one man on his laptop, it is read more
Jul 14, 2013
She and Her Cat is the first film from director Makoto Shinkai (5 Centimeters Per Second, Garden of Words). At just under 5 minutes, there’s no plot to speak of, just the musings of Chobi the cat as the seasons pass and his bond with his owner grows. Chobi is a pretty deep cat, dwelling on topics such as love, existence, the limits of his perspective, and his unshakeable faith in the girl’s goodness. He reminded me of Henri the Existential Cat.

Shinkai’s concept is clever, and for anyone who has ever owned a cat, it can be touching. As a cat lover, though, I expected read more
Jul 7, 2013
Part of the beauty of Kino’s Journey is that Kino doesn’t just visit interesting places; she interacts with the people, who believe in their ways of life, however strange or vulgar they might seem to us. In highlighting the many ways in which people can live, Kino’s Journey gives life to the phrase “the world is not beautiful; therefore it is.”

At first glance, For You seems to fit this mold. Unlike Life Goes On, it’s essentially another episode, following the standard formula of focusing on a unique set of customs for contemplation. Compared to other episodes, though, it’s pretty lackluster. Instead of developing the philosophical/cultural read more
Jul 5, 2013
For fans of Kino’s Journey, Life Goes On is a welcome addition. It’s a cute, engaging story that reveals how Kino got her traveler’s outfit and remarkable skills, expands upon two important secondary characters, Shishou and the older Kino, and focuses on Kino’s guilt over the death of the older Kino. It also has a bit of action, humor, and a suspenseful, darker climax.

As a prequel, the film isn’t bad but it leaves something to be desired. How did Kino and Shishou meet, and why does Shishou make Kino (and everyone else) call her Master? When and why did Kino decide to leave Shishou? If read more
Jul 4, 2013
Written and directed by Mamoru Oshii (Ghost in the Shell, Urusei Yatsura), Angel’s Egg is the kind of progressive anime that is all too rare today, a near-blank slate that draws upon your own spiritual beliefs and doubts while offering a glimpse into its creator’s struggle with God and existence. This is a cryptic and thought-provoking work of art, filled with enigmatic symbols that invite interpretive debate and inspire self-reflection.

Yet even as it aspires to great philosophical heights, the film is limited by inescapably Judeo-Christian references. It is said that Oshii abandoned his Christian faith shortly before production, and in many ways it shows. From read more
Jul 4, 2013
Claymore has gotten a lot of hype as an innovative and impressive shounen, and in many ways it lives up to its reputation. The first thing you’ll probably notice is the distinctly feminist tone. The Claymore are all women, but unlike most other heroines they give short thrift to gender norms. It is their identity as warriors that defines them, and their sex is so incidental that the rare stereotypically-feminine act feels forced and out of character. They’re also asexual and somewhat androgynous, with no male counterparts as potential love interests and purportedly repulsive bodies. This is not Sailor Moon or the ecchi of the read more
Jul 4, 2013
The Internet is a fascinating phenomenon. With the press of a button, humanity is able to instantly and effortlessly convey and retrieve a vast collection of information, facilitating communication, education, commerce, recreation, and many other things. All of this is made possible by physical connections and radio wave transmissions between millions of devices interacting according to governing protocols. It isn’t hard to imagine a time, even soon, when virtual reality devices become commonplace and enable people to completely escape from the “real world” by accessing a parallel digital world. Enter Serial Experiments Lain, a series that proposes just such a world, called “the Wired,” and read more
Jul 4, 2013
Wolf’s Rain is arguably the spiritual successor to the acclaimed Cowboy Bebop — the same writer (Keiko Nobumoto), one of the same producers (Masahiko Minami), and the same composer (Yoko Kanno) — so it seems only natural to want to compare the two. But while the series share similarities, Wolf’s Rain isn’t the next Cowboy Bebop. It’s Nobumoto’s attempt to craft exceptional characters and weave a compelling plot, and the result, while impressive, is somewhat unbalanced.

As in Bebop, the characters in Wolf’s Rain are central, and Nobumoto dedicates much of the story to fleshing out Kiba, Tsume, Hige, and Toboe as they journey to Paradise. read more