Japanese Journals - Anime

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Re: Japanese Journals - Anime

Postby trevor826 » Thu Nov 10, 2005 3:15 pm

Inosensu: Kkaku kidtai (2004) Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence

Directed by Mamoru Oshii

Although this doesnt match up to the previous episode, this is still an outstanding piece of Cyberpunk anime. We have lost Major Motoko Kusanagi and this does affect the dynamics of the whole film. Bato, Motoko's partner from the first film is also virtually a cyborg with very little of his former self remaining, another Ghost within a man made shell. Along with the still mostly human Togusa, he is called in on a case where several robots, all of the same type and model have killed their owners.

The actual plot line is far easier to follow than the previous film and the title Innocence has a well-founded meaning. It turns out that the robots have been developed for one reason only, as sexual playthings so the investigation, which has far, more of a film noir feel to it, attempts to trace the manufacturers and find out what went wrong?

Bato and Togusa make a good pairing though Kusanagi is missed and not just by the audience, she is constantly brought up in conversation between our main protagonists and does have a part to play in the story. Again as with the first, deep philosophical and existential themes are raised although they dont feel quite as natural.

The artwork although beautiful is again inferior to the first film, even more use has been made of computer graphics but this time theyve been overdone and dont gel as well (although far better than Wonderful Days aka Sky Blue) a lot of the time the blending of 2D and 3D animation works well but a couple of times you wish they had spent a little time making the 3D work blend in more.

The character of Bato comes into his own though, a cynical tough nosed detective on the outside, its only when we are allowed a little window into his private life as he spends time with his dog, (a relationship that any dog owner would immediately recognise) that we see a different side to him. Its the little moments like these that make this special. Mamoru Oshii is obviously a dog owner and lover and it wouldnt surprise me if the basset hound animated in this was modelled on the one in Avalon.

So overall then, weaker than the first but still far more depth than the average anime. The same haunting traditional sounding theme music and a subtext concerning a darker aspect of Japanese society (or society in general). Strongly recommended especially if you can catch it in the cinema.

Cheers Trev.

BBFC rated 15

Re: Japanese Journals - Anime

Postby hengcs » Wed Nov 23, 2005 7:01 pm

The Place Promised In Our Early Days (Kumo no Mukou, Yakusoku no Basho) (2004) (Japan)

Director: Shinkai Makoto

It garnered the Best Animation Film for Mainichi Film Awards 2005

Yup, it is the director who did Voices of a Distant Star ...

My thoughts:
-- Like most Japanese films, the film describes human relationships very well ... and it manages to let the audience feel for the characters by the end ...
-- And like many Japanese films, there is always that melancholic mood amidst some humor ... the beginning lines have set the tone for the entire film ...
-- Also, it is often philosophical ... about love, about friendship, about reality and dreams, about peace, about the world beyond and the world of the unknown, etc ...
-- There are many scenes that look very beautiful ... go watch ... ... I especially like the one where all of them are in the water ...
-- The song at the end was very nice and meaningful too ...
-- They subtitled everything, including the signboards, notices, etc ... of course some people may find it unnecessary or too distracting ... but I find it okay ... Also, when more than one person is speaking at the same time, they had 2 rows of subtitles ... "yellow" and "white" ...

What could be better ...
-- Due to (i) the nonlinear narration and (ii) the fact that reality and dreams are intertwined, some audience may find it confusing initially ... but along the way, they should be able to figure it out ...
-- The "fading to dark" transitions are plentiful such that the "smoothness" may feel less than perfect ...

Worth watching ...

Re: Japanese Journals - Anime

Postby hengcs » Thu Nov 24, 2005 12:12 am

Mind Game (2004) (Japan)

Director: Yuasa Masaaki

The film garnered the Ofuji Noburo Award for Mainichi Film Awards for 2005. No synopsis is needed, just go watch the film ... hee hee

My thoughts:
-- Most audience will leave the theater being amazed by the * highly imaginative * work ...

-- The use of color is interesting too ... there are scenes with shades of only one color to those with multiple colors, which coincide/depict the moods of the characters ...
-- There are many different styles in the film ... from rough drawings and collage to computer animation, rotoscoping and use of real faces, etc ...
-- The pacing is good ...
-- Overall, the film is rather philosophical ... about living life to the fullest ...

What could be better ...
-- Unfortunately, the songs were not translated ...
-- As for the plot, one really have to watch till the end to fully understand ...

Wow ... another very different animation ... recommended!

By the way, it is for mature audience!

Question and Answer:
(With the director ... gist, not in verbatim)

Q: What motivates you to include real faces with the animation? Are the faces those of the dubbers? Are the animated characters modeled after the dubbers?
A: I wanted to make the film feel real, so I included the real faces. Yes, you are right, they are the faces of the dubbers. No, I did not model the characters after the dubbers, but luckily they somehow fit in with the drawn characters ...

Q: How many people and how much time was involved?
A: Initially, I worked alone for about 4 months ... then later 5 people ... then 500 people for about two years ...

Q: Who inspired you? And what was your favorite scene?
A: (I am not sure if it was due to poor translation but he did not seem to answer the first question precisely ... he answered about directors being able to work freely) ... (for the second question) I like the mother asking the kid to drink the milk scene ...

Q: Which character did you identify with?
A: Ha ha ... although most directors tend to identify with the main character, I spent most effort on the Yakuza ... maybe due to age ... Anyway, I made the main character younger, about 20 odd ... but in the manga, he was 40 odd ...

Q: How did the story come about?
A: The story was based on a manga ... but I wanted more people to read it ... so I made it into a film

Q: How did you get the budget to make the film?
A: Well, it was from sponsors of DVDs and VCDs, etc ...

Q: What are your present work/future plans?
A: Well, I am now working on something for TV, but the story is not from manga ...

that's all

Re: Japanese Journals - Anime

Postby trevor826 » Thu Nov 24, 2005 10:50 am

Thank's for the comments hengcs, great to hear about new anime, I'm looking forward to seeing both for very different reasons:

The Place Promised In Our Early Days because of the director, plus the plot line sounds very interesting.

Mind Game because it sounds very different which could work either way, I like the idea of works that are* highly imaginative *.

Cheers Trev.

Re: Japanese Journals - Anime

Postby trevor826 » Wed Jan 11, 2006 1:53 am

Little Norse Prince (196 Taiyo no oji: Horusu no daiboken

Directed by Isao Takahata

This was a groundbreaking anime, the one that first connected the names of Isao Takahata and Hayao Miyazaki who of course went on to create Japans greatest anime house Studio Ghibli.

The actual story is fairly simple and follows the traditional Heros Quest, a young boy sets out on a journey with a series of quests at the end of which he will have grown physically, mentally and spiritually.

Set in Scandinavia in the distant past, Horus and his companion Coro, (a bear cub) are harassed by a pack of wolves, the noise of whom wakes up an imaginatively designed slumbering rock giant who has his own thorny problem. Horus removes the thorn that turns out to be a powerful sword, unlike King Arthur, the sword doesnt bring instant power but it does push him towards his epic quest.

Horuss father is critically ill but before he dies he tells Horus about their past and the evil demon that destroyed their home village. After giving his father a Viking style funeral, Horus sails Northwards to find his kin and to try to find and destroy the demon.

From then on his adventures take him to the deceitful demon and a village that has more than its share of problems including a giant killer carp. Theres double crossing, a love interest who is far more than she appears and plotting a-plenty before a final confrontation with the demon that will decide the future of all humanity.

The standard of the animation and backdrops surprised me; they are fresh looking and are more modern in appearance than most anime from the 1980s, there is one scene when an enormous pack of wolves are attacking the village where a lot of static screens illustrate the action, I'm not sure if these have been added since the initial release but you can understand that the scene would have been incredibly complex and time consuming to have rendered. The sound on the other hand is dated, a definite nostalgia trip but there are some fabulous creepy sound effects.

Another surprise was the number of songs during the film, not like Disney where anything and everything suddenly explodes into song for no apparent reason, these belong within the structure of the story, I cant remember seeing any other anime with so much singing in it.

Although the original story was taken from a Japanese folk tale, it was given the Nordic touch to try and make it more saleable on the World market, I wonder how it would have looked if they had kept the original setting? Considered to be the first modern anime, certainly style-wise. The film failed on its release but became a cult hit (and rightly so).

Both directors have moved on in leaps and bounds since Little Norse Prince but this is a delightful and thoroughly recommended film, of course it also has historical significance for any anime fan.

Cheers Trev.

BBFC rated U

R2 Pal dvd available from Optimum Releasing.

Re: Japanese Journals - Anime

Postby arsaib4 » Wed Jan 11, 2006 9:54 am

Thanks for the review. Will try to get the DVD.

Re: Japanese Journals - Anime

Postby A » Wed Jan 11, 2006 6:07 pm

Thanks indeed. Will watch it if i lay my hands on it.
Do you know what was Miyazaki's creative input in this one?

Re: Japanese Journals - Anime

Postby trevor826 » Thu Jan 12, 2006 12:17 am

Miyazaki started off as one of many who did the in-between work, this involves doing a lot of sketches to fill in sections of movement for the principal animators. His work was so impressive that they created the position of chief animator and concept artist specifically for him.

If I had to say what I believe his major influence on the film was, it would be pure conjecture but I'd say the design and animation of the rock giant and maybe the hero Horus. The giant would slip into any of his other films quite easily.

Cheers Trev.

Re: Japanese Journals - Anime

Postby A » Fri Jan 13, 2006 12:53 am

Thanks for the info

Re: Japanese Journals - Anime

Postby trevor826 » Tue Jan 17, 2006 12:17 am

Nausica of the Valley of the Winds (1984) Kaze no tani no Naushika

Directed by Hayao Miyazaki

Pre-dating Princess Mononoke by 13 years, this is Miyazakis first stab at an adventure where environmental issues are at the forefront. Set at some future date with the Earth decimated by mans disregard for nature and for himself. Nausicas world is a mixture of overgrown, dense and highly toxic jungles populated by mutated insects including the giant woodlouse like Ohms, vast desert like wastelands and a few small areas where the last vestiges of humanity cling precariously to life.

Nausica, princess of the Valley of the Winds is the vibrant eco friendly heroine who is desperately searching for a solution to the toxic jungles before they overgrow and sweep away the last survivors. While she is taking positive action, other societies who refuse to learn the lessons of the past are scheming to rid the earth of the jungles by their own means and to take control of everything.

This sweeping adventure takes us over, through and under the toxic jungles, which appear to be inspired by the artistic visions of Roger Dean, skimming over the desert wastelands and soaring up through vast electrical storms when the action is taken into the sky. The Valley of the Winds itself appears to be the one place on Earth where sanity still exists. Rather than looking to expand and occupy others lands and hold dominion over the other races, the people of the valley are intent on keeping the jungle at bay and living a life of self-dependency.

All this though comes to an end when a huge transport aircraft crashes into the valley leaving a sole survivor and a huge object of unknown origin. The peace that the people of the valley have known and enjoyed is over as a tug of war begins between the other states over possession of this strange and obviously incredibly powerful device. It will take a true hero/heroine to save the day, luckily for them, they have Nausica.

Nausicaa isn't some sort of super hero, she is fallible and all too human, becoming more than a little uncomfortable with some of her own rash actions and decisions. This adds something to the story giving the viewer the opportunity to empathise with her character.

The plot and artwork are more simplistic than any of Miyazakis recent films but that doesnt detract from this true classic of anime. The message is clear and the story literally flies along only dragging its heels slightly towards the end. Princess Mononoke may be more graphically complex but both are equally relevant in their ecological intentions.

A top recommendation, quite suitable for most ages and a cgi free zone which makes the animation all the more impressive.

Cheers Trev.

BBFC rated PG

R2 Pal dvd available from Optimum Releasing. R1 ntsc dvd available from Walt Disney Home Entertainment.


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