Posts Tagged ‘Anime’

Evangelion 3.0

Set 14 years after the events of the last Evangelion movie in which Third Impact was accidentally started by Shinji whilst trying to save Rei but was aborted half-way by Kaworu piercing Eva 01 with the Lance of Longinus, we begin with Asuka and Mari teaming up to defeat an Angel before retrieving Shinji who has been frozen in Earth’s orbit for all that time inside the impaled Eva 01. Shinji wakes up in an intensive care ward to find the world he knew before has gone. The people he had grown to like have aged. Tokyo 3 and the Geofront have been totally abandoned and Misato has formed a splinter group called the Wille with some key NERV personnel in their giant ark-like ship The Wunder. Their goal is not only to fight against the Angels but also NERV’s Evangelions as well. Shinji’s father Gendo Ikari is still in charge of NERV with SEELE pulling the strings in the background. He is still trying to complete the Human Instrumentality Project. Shinji is confused as to why Asuka and Misato are so cold towards him and why he has been fitted with a device attached to his neck which will explode should he even contemplate trying to destroy the world again. He finds some of the answers he requires from the mysterious Kaworu who tells him he could fix everything if he were to create Fourth Impact. What will Shinji do? Is the words he hears from his friend Kaworu enough to persuade him to destroy everything once more?

This was the first movie that I watched whilst I was in Tokyo and a movie that I was so excited to see on the big screen. The third in the Rebuild of Evangelion franchise ventures into uncharted territory with this movie and bravely (or foolishly depending on your opinion) changing character dynamics which will certainly split fans’ opinion. The viewer was given a brief showing of the world post-Third Impact in The End of Evengelion and in this movie it is developed even further. The opening battle which sees Mari (in her pink eva) and Asuka pitting their wits against a deadly Angel is fast and exciting and contains some brilliant action sequences which made me a fan of the series in the first place. However, if you think that this excellent start is just a taster for some more wonderful Angel/Eva action you are going to be sorely disappointed. Eva 3.0 is quite a slow movie and is more of a character based drama which focuses quite a lot of the friendship of Shinji and Kaworu though the final action set piece will make up for the lack of excitement that occurs through the middle part of the story. Furthermore director Hideaki Anno it seems is up to his old tricks again with this movie fairly confusing in what it’s trying to say with many fans scratching their heads and not having a clue what’s going on. More questions than answers are given and many things are left unexplained. Maybe this was his way of saying f**k you to the fans once more? He doesn’t want to give us a simple explanation and prefers us to try and work things out on our own. Who knows? The Evangelion TV anime was always tagged as being a little bit difficult to follow with it’s concept and symbolism so there’s nothing new in that respect with the Rebuild movies. Some fans might not agree with what Anno has done with this movie but I liked what I saw.

Evangelion 3.0 screenshot

By leaving Shinji stuck in Eva 01 for 14 years, some of the characters we knew and loved from the TV series have changed. The biggest change of all is with Misato who is no longer the lovable beer swilling woman who cared for Shinji. In this movie she comes across as a bitter battle hardened veteran who is aggressively trying to stop Fourth Impact from occurring by trying to subvert Shinji and Kaworu and making sure that NERV doesn’t get their grubby hands on the pair. Quite a risky move to change a character who was a big fan favourite and I must admit to not really liking what Anno has done with her. Thankfully my favourite character in Asuka even though she is now an adult remains the hot headed person from before and her appearance shows she has not aged externally at all (the explanation given that she’s been exposed too much to LCL). She is still frustrated with Shinji but as for the will they won’t they romantic undertones that previously happened between the two – with time having moved on, that aspect of the two’s relationship has been thrown out of the window. I’m still unsure as to the purpose of the new character in Mari Makinami Illustrious who was introduced in the 2nd Evangelion movie. She doesn’t add anything to the plot at all and in this movie she’s just a person that has some friendly banter with Asuka which begs the question why Anno created her at all. It can’t be to provide some fan-service can it? Perhaps she’ll be getting a fairly substantial role in the final Evangelion movie? Shinji it seems is slightly different from before – no longer a whiny individual, he is simply a bewildered, lost and frustrated person as to what is going on all around him. He’s all alone, his former friends in Misato and Asuka are no longer the people he recognises from the past and when he demands an explanation to what’s going on they don’t tell him so he turns to Kaworu instead. As for the last of the main characters in Rei Ayanami she doesn’t have that big of a role in this movie but remains the quiet softly spoken enigma we’ve all come to love.

I haven’t mentioned anything so far on how the movie looks overall. The mix of traditional and CG animation for the movie is incredible – crisp and sharp and it looks gorgeous on the big screen. The designs for the Angels and mechas on show are great to see. The soundtrack contains some stirring and rousing music that’s been a staple of the series and singer Hikaru Utada returns from her brief hiatus to give us a memorable and melancholic end song which was appropriate for the mood of the movie.

To sum it all up, I think this movie sets things up very nicely for the final Evangelion movie which will probably see a large conflict between Wille and NERV. You can see that this clash is on the cards pitting Eva against Eva.  I enjoyed watching this movie very much. As for the grumblings from the fans after watching this movie perhaps some were just expecting way too much – maybe they wanted more all out action with Anno giving us a nice, clear and concise explanation as to the overall arc of the story. This is Anno after all we’re talking about here and that was never going to happen. The slight changes to the major characters was somewhat surprising and daring because Anno must have known that some fans would not take too kindly to seeing their favourite characters become unfamiliar to them but apart from not liking at all to what they’ve done to Misato, the overall traits of the main characters remain the same.

I look forward very much to seeing the conclusion to the storyline and I hope I won’t have to wait too long for it.

Sadako’s Rating – 4 stars out of 5

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Demon City Shinjuku (1988)

An evil demon named Rebi Rah makes a pact with a demon lord that gives him power to defeat a man that’s come to stop him. After overcoming the man (who looks like Wolverine!), the Tokyo suburb of Shinjuku is decimated by a massive earthquake which becomes known as the Devil’s Shake with the area breaking off from the rest of the city and becoming a place only inhabited by demons, monsters and criminals. It’s an area that’s avoided by all sane human beings. Shinjuku is renamed Monster City. The rest of Tokyo is unaffected by the chaos. 10 years later and Rebi Rah plans to open the gate that will allow the demon world to cross over into our world and take it over. Master Rai, a keeper of the mystical art of Nempo chooses a young man Kyoya Izayoi whose father was the one that got killed by Rebi Rah all those years ago to stop him from plunging the world into darkness forever. At first he refuses to help but after meeting a beautiful young woman Sayaka he changes his mind. Sayaka’s father is the President of Japan and he’s slowly dying at the hands of the evil demon. She goes alone at first to Monster City to face Rebi Rah but she runs into trouble. To her rescue comes Kyoya. Kyoya must master the art of Nempo very quickly before he has a chance to kill Rebi Rah but first he must defeat his 3 trusted henchmen and defeating them won’t be easy. Will Kyoya triumph against the forces of evil?

I haven’t reviewed an anime movie in a while so I thought it was high time I did that. This is a short but highly imaginative adult horror anime from the late 80’s by Yoshiaki Kawajiri, the director behind the excellent Ninja Scroll and Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust. Even though it may be an adult anime, it doesn’t come close to being as graphic as Kawajiri’s other works or even Overfiend in that there’s no frequent sex scenes/nudity and extreme violence. This movie does have it’s gory moments but it’s never ultra graphic in nature. The story is engaging but not original (some say it mirrors Star Wars a little), the pace motors along quickly and the creature designs are top notch – one such example is that of an arachnid/humanoid demon. The demon creatures are terrifying and very cool looking. It’s the characters that provides the main failings of the movie. I wouldn’t say the villain Rebi Rah is a memorable antagonist at all. He doesn’t come across as frightening or threatening. I do like the magic sword he weaves which reminded me of Lion-O’s Sword Of Omens from Thundercats. Kyoya and Sayaka are rather flat characters as well. Kyoya is just your usual young hero who swears, moans constantly and thinks about sex! Sayaka is a stereotypical damsel in distress who is seen as being rather naive. It’s one of the supporting characters in Mephisto who comes across best in the movie. A rather mysterious person, the viewer doesn’t know whether he’s on the side of good or evil. As the movie is short there’s no time for any character development at all. The version I saw was the English dubbed one and the accents given to some of the characters is ridiculous. The character of Chibi who is supposed to be a young Japanese kid is given a stupid Mexican accent and swears like a trooper! Even Sayaka is given an awful British accent. The animation is well done and I especially liked the look for the ruined suburb of Shinjuku. It feels sinister and oppressive – you expect something dangerous lurking around every corner. There’s a great scene in a park where Sayaka and Kyoya confront the souls of the people that died there during the devastating earthquake that happened 10 years previously. It ends rather touchingly with the dead souls able to move on to the afterlife and coming down as drops of rain. I was hoping for a thrilling confrontation at the end between Rebi Rah and Kyoya but it ends all too quickly. What an anti-climax and such a disappointment. It feels a bit rushed like the filmmakers wanted to get this project over and done with and move on to something else.

I wouldn’t call this an essential anime movie to watch. It’s an interesting 78 min feature, has soon good action scenes and it’s never boring but if you want to see director Kawajiri at his best check out the two titles I’ve mentioned above. This could have been a lot better.

Sadako’s Rating: 3 stars out of 5

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Togawa is a man sprung from jail 2 years earlier than expected by a man called Ito. Ito along with a yakuza boss has paid big money to have Togawa released from prison (he was serving a sentence for killing a trucker who had crippled his young sister). Ito wants Togawa to lead a team of 4 men to rob an armoured car which is carrying 120 million yen in money earnings from the Japanese Derby horse race. Togawa has been chosen for his reputation and skills. Even with the big pay off Ito is offering him he hesitates but he soon accepts when he finds out his trusted friend Shirai is a part of the team. The other 2 members is a boxer who was going to be a champion until he took a bung for a fight and a greedy gambler. The plan for the heist looks to be foolproof on paper and it all has to be done in 7 mins. But of course the best laid plans never go according to what they should be………..

This is a hard edged heist movie with all the standard elements in place here from a criminal asked to do one last job, the audacious plan to commit the perfect crime against a difficult target, the heist which goes wrong, the subsequent falling out between the team and the moral at the end that crime doesn’t pay. It’s a taut and thrilling movie thanks to a good plot, fast pace and the leading character played by chipmunk faced Jo Shishido. He plays Togawa with his usual aura of looking cool, some grittiness and machismo. The draw of the movie isn’t about the heist itself but of how it’ll inevitably go wrong. You can sympathise with Togawa in why he’s taking part in the heist. He might want to go straight but he feels responsible for the accident that hospitalised his sister. The money from the heist would go a long way to pay for an operation that could make her walk again. When Togawa explains the plan to his fellow cohorts, the viewer is shown what should happen in real time and it’s obvious that there are unforeseen circumstances that could easily derail the plan. In the duration of 7 short minutes the criminals have to divert the armoured truck down an alternative route, block that route so that other traffic doesn’t follow, shoot the motorcycle police escorts dead, hope the guards inside the truck come out so that they get killed as well as the truck’s glass is bullet proof and then finally load the truck onto a bigger truck before it is disposed of in a quiet location with all the bodies inside. Even when the heist doesn’t go according to plan, Togawa never expects to be betrayed by his employers and two of his team members who become greedy. Togawa is a man who believes in the futile notion of honor among thieves so this betrayal is very unexpected. It then becomes a battle of survival as he and his friend Shirai get involved in a number of gunfight skirmishes and try to escape with the money. It ends in something that could almost be described as a Greek tragedy.

This is an excellent example of a Japanese noir movie with brilliant acting by Jo Shishido and loads of exciting violent action. It’s directed well, the story is interesting and it looks great.

Cruel Gun Story might not be a classic movie in the Japanese noir genre but it has plenty of thrills and spills to keep any viewer entertained. Well worth seeing.

I can’t find a trailer I’m afraid.

Sadako’s Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

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Tekkonkinkreet (2006)

Acrobatic street orphans Kuro and Shiro (Black and White) known as The Cats live in an old abandoned Fiat car in Treasure Town, a violent city where various factions are vying for control. The two kids support each other with Kuro acting more as a protector to Shiro. Kuro believes that he owns Treasure Town and must confront the people that he believes are going to ruin it whilst Shiro wants to make enough money so that they can both buy a house by the sea. Things turn dark for the pair when slimeball company boss Mr Snake wants to demolish Treasure Town to create a massive theme park. He intends to stamp out any troublemakers in his way and sends 3 powerful assassins to kill Kuro and Shiro. Shiro is seriously injured by one of the assassins and is taken into care by a kindly gangster. As Kuro is now separated from Shiro, he grows more and more violent with the other gangs in his Treasure Town.

Based on the manga by Taiyo Matsumoto and directed a Westerner – Michael Arias, this is a brilliant anime which looks at 2 characters’ dependence on each other and their fight against an organisation intent on destroying their habitat.  The story blends crime, humour and fantasy to make an absorbing adventure filled with beautifully detailed urban landscapes, exciting action and chase sequences plus a touching tale about friendship. It has bouts of violence alongside moments of tenderness. The animation though it looks different from normal anime movies you may have seen is unique and wonderful to the eye and the shots of Treasure Town which have apparently been modelled after Osaka looks a sight to behold and is so full of details as the camera swoops through alleyways, buildings, nooks and crannies. Not a pixel it seems has been wasted on the canvas. The story touches on the Chinese aspect of ying and yang in that Kuro and Shiro need each other to survive. When the two are separated, their mental stability begins to break down. The symbolism of their dependence on each other is clear when Kuro is struggling to come to his senses and we get images of a Minotaur and a pack of black crows with a white dove leading from the front to signify the balance coming back into Kuro’s mind after dark inner demons of hatred has temporarily taken over his life. The story can also be interpreted as a clash between old and new traditions. The directing by Arias in which he uses rich vibrant colours is fantastic and the action set pieces are excellently crafted.  Quite a few of the characters’ names in the movie have some duality attached to them including the assassins (Dawn and Dusk) sent to kill the two kids.

There is a lot for anime fans to enjoy in this movie. It’s a visual feast with a fantastic and interesting tale of hope and friendship at its core. Recommended.

Sadako’s Rating: 4 stars out of 5

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The story is set in 1963 in Yokohama. Kokuriko Manor sits on a hill overlooking the harbour. A 16 year-old girl, Umi, lives in the house. Every morning she raises a signal flag facing the sea. The flag means “safe voyage”. A 17 year-old boy, Shun, always sees this flag from the sea as he rides a tugboat to school. In preparation for the following year’s Tokyo Olympics, people are destroying the old and believing only in the magnificence of the new. In that time, at a high school in Yokohama, a small struggle occurs. The building of the Culture Club, nicknamed Quartier Latin, is old but full of history and memories. Should it be destroyed or preserved? In the middle of this, Umi and Shun meet. Shun appeals to the students who want to protect the building. Umi suggests a big clean up of the building to show its good parts. Gradually the pair are drawn to each other but they are faced with a sudden trial. They may be siblings. Even so, they keep going without running from reality. Then, in the middle of the battle and the aftermath, they come to know how their parents met, loved and lived.

Goro Miyazaki had to endure some harsh criticism in 2006 when he directed his first animated movie Tales From Earthsea. Comparisons between himself and his famous father was bound to happen – after all he had a lot to live up to! I didn’t find anything wrong with Tales From Earthsea as I really liked it. The anticipation has been high on how his follow-up movie would do. I’m glad to say that his 2nd movie From Up On Poppy Hill is a brilliant addition to the Studio Ghibli catalogue and the wonderful nostalgic storyline was written by Hayao Miyazaki and Keiko Niwa. This is slightly different from most of Ghibli’s movies as this one is set in the real world just like Only Yesterday and Whispers Of The Heart. There are no monsters and villains as such in this movie at all. The crux of the story deals with a conservation of an important historical building by students of a school and the impact the Korean War has on our two main characters. It also explores the theme of the old, traditional ways taking on the new, modern methods. In the years prior to the Tokyo Olympics, Japan was looking towards the future and trying not to look back. To make the country look good for the world’s visitors coming to Tokyo and the surrounding area, many buildings deemed not worthy of being conserved were torn down and replaced.

The animation as has always been with Studio Ghibli is magnificent once more. It’s crisp, shows fantastic detail and is such a joy to see. It really is such a beautiful movie to behold. The two lead characters (Umi and Shun) are extremely likeable and propel the story forward. Umi is seen to be a level headed, hard working person who hides the pain of losing her father who was a ship’s captain in the Korean War behind her calm mature exterior. Shun, the strong willed boy also has a damaged background much like Umi. Both like each other and there seems to be a romantic relationship developing between the two but it stalls when Shun finds out that Umi may be his sister. I won’t spoil how the issue is resolved but it’s handled very well. The supporting characters of the school students although not as developed as much as Umi and Shun add to the great atmosphere of the movie. As it is such a simple tale, some people might be disappointed by the lack of any exciting set pieces and fantasy elements. It just isn’t that kind of story I’m afraid.

So what’s the final verdict on From Up On Poppy Hill? Although not a classic from Ghibli, it is still a brilliantly charming animated movie with a well written character driven story. This movie should ensure that Goro Miyazaki isn’t criticised so badly this time round as it is a step forward from him. He has certainly grown as a director from his first effort. Recommended and definitely worth watching.

Sadako’s Rating: 4 stars out of 5

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As the 21st century approaches, a new 20th-century museum (fans of the 20th Century Boys trilogy will recognise a well known statue here) has opened in town, for the adults to relive their childhood. Shinnosuke and his parents have gone there. However, the owners of the museum seem to have other ulterior plans for it. They want the future to stop and return back to the past. Disappointment with how things are now in the present, they have created a 70’s world which they think is far better. Soon after visiting, the adults start to behave strangely, and one morning, they abandon their children for the 20th-century museum. Shinnosuke, along with his friends, must now rescue his parents and stop the world from returning to the 20th century before they get captured.

This is my first exposure to Crayon Shin-Chan which has been causing controversy in Japan over the years especially with parents. The anime has been shown on Japanese TV screens since 1992. Shin-chan is a 5 year old boy who lives with his baby sister, dog and parents and is famous for his use of inappropriate language and behaviour. This is the 9th movie out of 20 that has been released so far. They are usually released each year in cinemas on or around the same day in mid April without fail. The anime series regularly comes up as one of the programmes that Japanese parents complain about the most due to what Shin-chan does like taking his pants down regularly or talking and showing his penis which he calls ‘Mr Elephant’. I watched this movie as readers of Kinema Junpo has voted it to be in their Top 200 Movies list for this year. I’m not too sure whether the anime series is geared more towards kids, adults or both? The first thing you’ll notice if you’ve never seen Crayon Shin-Chan before is how crudely drawn the main characters are. It might take time to get adjusted to it but with a great story who cares about how it looks. Basically the creators behind Shin-chan isn’t trying to make this movie or the anime series look like a work of art. I liked the humour of the movie very much with a lot of visual gags, parodies of old Japanese TV series which I’d never heard about and some toilet humour. I laughed a lot during the movie. There’s also a social commentary message thrown into the plot as well about living for today and not think too much about the good old days of the past.

Shin-chan is quite a character. Many have said he is like the Japanese equivalent of Bart Simpson which is far from the truth. He’s nothing like him. His foul mouth antics and rude behaviour, skirt chasing just like his father and double entendres is what endears him to so many people in Japan. A typical example of the humour you’ll find is when Shin-chan nearly falls off a replica Tokyo Tower in the 20th century museum and blurts out that his testicles shrank back. He is also seen urinating onto a moving car! A little bit crude perhaps but funny nevertheless.

Overall I had a great time watching this movie and I will certainly take a look at more of Shin-chan’s adventures. It’s a lot of fun and it would be silly for people to not see this movie because the animation is not up to their high standards. If you want something like that you can always go and watch the Ghibli movies. For those that want some funny comedy that will put a smile on your face – Shin-chan will certainly do that. Recommended.

Sadako’s Rating: 4 stars out of 5

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The movie begins with the revelation that the master thief Lupin The Third is dead and police inspector Zenigata is full of glee that his long time nemesis has gone and met his maker or has he? After revealing that he’s still alive, Lupin embarks along with his constant companions Jigen and Goemon to the pyramids of Egypt where he wants to steal The Philosopher’s Stone from the tomb of one of the pharaohs. As always Zenigata is in hot pursuit and determined to capture him! With the precious stone gained, Lupin is double crossed by the beautiful and devious femme fatale Fujiko who takes the stone to a reclusive billionaire named Mamo. Fujiko’s betrayal causes a rift between Lupin and his friends who want him to cut off his ties to her. Lupin is eventually captured by Mamo and transported to his secret island in the Caribbean where he reveals that he has acquired immortality by cloning himself for the past 10,000 years and has been interfering in the affairs of mankind. His overall aim is to destroy the world by launching nuclear weapons leaving the planet as his own paradise. Can Lupin save the day?

This is the first Lupin The Third movie. It’s an exciting non-stop action packed adventure which is full of great humour. The animation for it’s time whilst inevitably not up to today’s high standards is still quite solid. A little bit rough around the edges perhaps but it adds to the charm of the movie. The story which is crazy and OTT is a lot of fun. Lupin is up against a psychotic midget with a god complex, and it leads to some very strange things which includes a cameo from Adolf Hitler!! Plenty of thrills and spills featuring an excellent car chase which starts out in Paris and into the surrounding countryside as our trio are pursued at first by a machine gun wielding helicopter and then by a huge monster truck. Unlike the friendly camaraderie you’ll find for example in the well known Castle Of Cagliostro movie between Lupin, Jigen and Goemon, this is more true to the original manga in that there’s more tension and arguing between them – the source of the in-fighting being Fujiko who uses her wily feminine ways to great effect to get what she wants from Lupin. Maybe some Lupin fans will not like seeing this arguing although I enjoyed it. This isn’t a movie for younger viewers either as there’s some sexual references and Fujiko is seen nude on more than one occasion. The action sequences are imaginative enough and actually make for some thrilling edge of your seat viewing and the globe trotting adventure takes us from Egypt, Paris, Madrid, an island in the Caribbean and finally to Colombia. The only thing I didn’t like was Lupin’s strange behaviour. He drops everything just to please Fujiko and this is a woman who has betrayed him more than once! You’ll get used to it as it happens in nearly every Lupin movie!! The plot does get a tad surreal and science-fictiony as we near the climax as Mamo clearly isn’t what he seems and is basically a massive brain! This is probably the weakest part of the entire movie.

The Secret Of Mamo is a wild ride that’s constantly entertaining to watch. Gravity-defying chases, beautiful women, and some of the most devious escapes imaginable which were traits of the anime series are all present here. Although Hayao Miyazaki improved everything in Lupin’s next story, this is still a brilliant start to the Lupin movie franchise.

Sadako’s Rating: 4 stars out of 5

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