Thursday, October 14, 2010

Anime Movies I Got: Mini Reviews


                                                                          Jay Agan

    1.                                                Voices of a Distant Star
               Makoto Shinkais' first theatrical release, mostly made at his home studio. In spite of the limitations & short length, the film is nonetheless sweeping & visually breathtaking.

               Young lady makes it to the space forces in a war against a vaguely defined enemy, the Tarsians. As the fleet goes deeper into space in pursuit, time differentials make communication with her true love longer & more difficult. Sort of covers the same ground as Gunbuster in a shorter time (23 min) with a different ending. Disc also comes with Shinkais' first film, Short subject: She & Her Cat. Rated TVPG-V

     2.                                    The Place Promised In Our Early Days
                Shinkais' third film. Life doesn't always deliver on it's earlier promises. Circumstances, politics, events, etc. tend to curtail or cancel things. Also, what correlation is there between dreams & parallel universes?
                Two Young men set out to fulfill their dreams of flight & keep a promise made to a young lady while up against incredible obstacles. One of which is World War lll. Rated TVPG-V

     3.                                            Panda & the Magic Serpent
                Found this for a buck at Family Dollar. A little film that impressed me a lot as a kid & made me cognizant of anime. Made in 1956, it's the first full length color anime film & reputed to have inspired Miyazaki to enter the field of animation.

                It's the story of a young Chinese man meeting a young lady who, in reality, is the spirit of a pet snake he had when he was a boy. A hostile, though well meaning magician, believing humans & demons should not meet, intervenes, causing much suffering to the couple. Separated, the young mans' two panda friends & a fish spirit aid him in reuniting with his love. This has got to be G rated.

    4.                                                     The Silent Service
                Anti-American screed of a Japanese crew siezing a joint-project super submarine, declaring themselves an independant country (Yamato), & taking on the U.S. Navy. Smug look on the face of main protagonist throughout film, makes one alternately want to slap him around or cheer him on.
                 Rated 13 up.

    5.                                                            Paprika
                Can there be a technology for entering peoples' dreams for therapeutic purposes? What if this tech ends up in the wrong hands? What if the wrong hands try merging the realm of dreams with reality? It's up to the perky title character (The alter-ego of a co-inventer of said tech.) to seek out the perps & put a stop to the chaos. A total head trip of a movie if there ever was one.

                Warning: This film has a "hentai moment". Not for the kiddies. Rated R (Violent & sexual images.)

     6.                                                   The Sky Crawlers

                The planes are WWll. The pilots are Japanese. The cities are metro Poland. The countryside is Ireland. And the "ambiance" is Euro-American retro from the 40s on.

                Now the wierd part. It's gradually revealed the pilots are clones. Aerial warfare is a form of "entertainment" to control the masses of asses. As pilots are attritioned, they're replaced. The base commander incrementally sinks into subdued insanity as one carbon copy after another of a former lover (& father of her child) cycles through the mill. One must watch past the end credits for full impact. Rated PG-13

      7.                                              Jin Roh, the Wolf Brigade

                The retelling of Little Red Riding Hood against the backdrop of a post-war, mid 60s, fascist Japan. Police/political intrigue unravels as authorities try to disband an anti-terrorist division only to run afoul of a rogue sub-unit, members of which think more like beasts than men. Rated 16 up.

    8.                                                               Akira

                Bikers battle for dominance in 21st century, post-WWlll, Neo-Tokyo, riddled with political unrest, & terrorism. One gang stumbles upon a secret project involving governmental exploitation of mans' next evolutionary stage. Cataclysmic disaster of apocolyptic proportions results with authorities unable to handle it. Biker leader & activist babe take matters into their own hands.

                This film was actually the next stage in the evolution of anime. A fabulous combination of digital & hand drawn animation. Richly detailed & wildly expensive it almost broke the bank for the studio. It also launched the early 90s anime surge. Rated R.

     9.                                              Cowboy Bebop the Movie

                If you have the series, you must have the flick. It is episode 23.5 after all.

                The five bounty hunters of the aforementioned series, a sympathetic corporate operative, a rogue corporation, police & military, are on the trail of a terrorist with viral induced dementia. Aided by a thrill seeking techie, he plans to distribute the same virus on the unsuspecting Mars populace on Halloween. Rated R (Some violent images.).
          10.                                     The Girl Who Leapt Through Time

                Time waits for no one but you can travel through it.
                What would you do if you stumbled on a device enabling you to time travel? Correct past mistakes? See great historical events? "Save/take over the world"? Or something else great & momentous?

                 Or if you're an angst filled adolescent, would you use it to untangle your oh so complicated little existance & make things easier? It is those frivolous little things complicating life & you sure can do without them. Since they're small nagging obstacles, any consequences would be trivial if at all, right? It's obvious this kid hasn't seen The Butterfly Effect or she'd know better. Oh well. The only way she'll learn is to go ahead & get bruised. Kids these days.....                       Rated 13 up.

    11.                                                     Submarine 707R

                Combined UN naval forces are wiped out by a rogue sub navy led by a smirking, self righteous, Nemo type named Admiral Red. It's up to resourceful Cmdr. Hayami & the obsolete title vessel to put a stop to the sanctimonious ones' plans. Rated 13 up.

     12.                                                Barefoot Gen 1 and 2

                 Story of a young boys' survival in Hiroshima after Tibbets drops the big one. Rather gruesome blast/aftermath scenes in spite of the then "crude" animation. Based on Keiji Nakazawas' experiences of survival & endurance, of the loss of most of his family (The scene of his father & two siblings dying before his eyes always gets to me.) & the will to live in spite of the odds. Rated 13 up.

                Second film continues in immediate post-war Japan as Gen & his dying mother (radiation poisoning) struggle to make a living among the ruins. Bittersweet ending. Don't know wether to feel happy or sad. Rated 13 up. 

    13.                                                 Grave of the Fireflies

                 After the loss of their mother in a firebombing, a young man & his little sister experience wandering & unsympathetic relatives in the aftermath. Taking up shelter in the countryside, they struggle to make a life & wait for wars end. A movie you only want to see once, but will keep on your shelf always. Rated 13 up.

     14.                                                    Porco Rosso

                 The only Miyazaki film I have. Yes, I know they're all classic. I also know they're all "kids' stuff". Not that they're bad, they aren't. With the exception of Spirited Away (Overly long & No Faces' puke fest turned me off. Whoa! There he goes again! Baaaaarf!), I actually like them. They're just not my kind of movies. Porco is a bit different.

                 For adults & kids, Porco Rosso wings off for adventure over the post WWl Adriatic, fighting sky pirates & dodgeing Fascists. It's not known why he looks like a pig ("Id rather be a pig than a fascist!"), but he doesn't act like a swine.

                 Sky pirates plot to get Porco out of the way by hiring Curtis, a hot shot American pilot as "hit man". Complications ensue as Curtis' wandering eye gets the better of him. It all ends up in a delightful fiasco involving the hand of a young lady, culminating in a royal air battle & a fist fight in the surf! I love it! Rated PG. 

       15.                                                           Memories

                 Three part sci-fi based anthology.

                Magnetic Rose: Space salvagers, following a distress signal, stumble on a virtual reality constructed from the memories of a long dead opera diva.

                 Stink Bomb: Hapless pharmaceuticle lab tech inadvertantly becomes a super bio weapon headed for Tokyo. Military helpless to stop him. Believe it or not, this is a comedy!

                 Cannon Fodder: The war is on & has been for generations. Why? 'Cause that's the way it is.

                 Three great stories. ALL worth watching. Rated PG-13.

       16.                                                  Kite/Kite Liberator

                 Girl asassin meets boy asassin as they skip out on their vigilante cop employers after their last few jobs. Liberator is an unfinished work with an abrupt non-ending.

                 Rated 16 up. Gen. release version (the one I have.) Rated 18 up for other versions.

       17.                   Dirty Pair-Project Eden/Flight 005 Conspiracy/Affair At Nolandia

                Three movies about my favorite semi-homicidal girls n' guns anime duo.
                Project Eden: Vizarium makes mass space travel possible. A Prof. Wattsman may know something more about this element than is popularly thought. Complicating the investigation is an adventurer bent on stealing the remaining bottle of De Gaulle, a wine bottled after the liberation of Paris in 1944. Rated TVPG-V.

                Flight 005 Conspiracy: The best of the three. The Lovely Angels investigate a spaceline sabotage involving 800 passengers & no insurance claims. Turns out to be a coverup in the abduction of a scientist needed in a power grab by local govt. forces, & organized crime. Rated TVPG-V.

                 Affair At Nolandia: Another air "accident" this time involving mind control. Local planetary govt. & various factions plan to exploit artificial life for their own ends. The key to it all may be Missani, a little girl Kei & Yuri must find on a remote plateau. One time Pokemon fans might like this for the myriad little critters that show up. Rated TVPG-V.

    18.                                            Area 88/Area 88, Burning Mirage

                 Area 88: Shin Kazama, tricked by a "friend" into joining a mercenary air unit, fights to survive in the skies over civil-war torn Aslan in the mid-east. Meanwhile, the "friend" plots to take over Yamato Air Lines & steal Shins' girl. Rated TVPG-V.

                 Area 88, Burning Mirage: Sequel. Shin hangs onto living & plots to escape his forced employment. His "friend" tries to marry the girl. Rated TVPG-V.

     19.                                                     Steamboy 

                 Young Ray Steam is caught between his grandfathers' vague idealism & his fathers' corporate collaboration as the victorian world is on the verge of COMPLETE utilization of steam power. A process of unleashing 100% of steam power with no waste will revolutionize civilisation.

                Will blind idealism or corporate greed win out? Will Ray Steam make up his mind? The industrial revolution was never like this! Rated PG-13.

                                                 Article copyright © Jay Agan


DISCLAIMER: The ratings were taken from the films respective disc cases. Discretion is up to you.

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