Who out there is in the mood for a little Japanese anime? Alibi Midnight Movie Madness is back at Guild Cinema this weekend with the newest film from Master Animator Katsuhiro Otomo (Akira, Steamboy). Short Peace is an anthology featuring four short fantasy/sci-fi films, all centered on the past, present and future of Tokyo. One of the films was even nominated for an Academy Award earlier this year. The film screens Friday and Saturday night, starting at 10:30pm. As always, we’ll have doorprizes courtesy of Stranger Factory. Plus, representatives from the upcoming Sabaku Con will be there selling advanced passes. Tickets are $8 general admission and $6 students. Check out the gorgeous trailer below.
Fathom Events will be sponsoring a world premiere screening of Gantz on Thursday, Jan. 20. This is a brand-new live-action adaptation of Hiroya Oku’s notorious seinen series (meaning it’s got lots of boobs, guns and monsters for the boys in the audience), which previously came to life in both manga and anime form. The film stars Kazunari Ninomiya (Letters From Iwo Jima) and Kenichi Matsuyama (Death Note) as a couple of recently deceased teens called upon to hunt down and kill evil, invading aliens. The stars will participate in a special live interview after the film. Gantz will screen locally at Rio 24 and Cottonwood 16 beginning at 6 p.m. Advance tickets are available at fathomevents.com.
Now this is what I like to see on the Netflix Instant Watching roster: another digital-only release of an otherwise almost-impossible-to-find film—and in its original “Toeiscope” ultra-wide aspect ratio to boot. This highly inventive 1960 anime adaptation of Osamu Tezuka’s Monkey King manga remains forever burned into the brains of Gen X children who happened to see it in their formative years, and it continues to hypnotize kids with its compelling imagery, archetypal quest narrative and loads of transforming magical beings.
Despite the heavily Americanized redubbing (Jonathan Winters!) and rescoring (Frankie Avalon!), Alakazam (née Saiyu-ki) remains a high water mark in animation. This film is nothing more nor less than the epic Journey to the West, with Buddha renamed to King Amo and the Monkey King to Alakazam. Certain story elements are glossed over or awkwardly repurposed, but the English-language script retains a certain cracked logic that more than suffices to glue together the fabulous animated set-pieces, and the songs aren’t half-bad either. (Once you’ve seen Alakazam, you’ll instantly spot the film’s reference in the 2006 anime Paprika.) Sadly, the Netflix copy, while properly widescreen, is emphatically not HD. If you wanna borrow my laserdisc, drop me a line.
Ponyo is a great film. Some have dismissed it as sub-par Miyazaki, but those people are wrong. The intrusion of a cosmic magical force into an everyday community could be terrifying, but here it is only a source of joy and playfulness as the normal rules of reality are temporarily suspended. I saw this film five times in the theater, mostly just so I could watch the scene where Sosuke’s toy pop-pop boat grows big enough to carry him (and Ponyo) on a journey through a flooded town as prehistoric fish prowl through the water below. Wow.
So I have mixed feelings about Ponyo being on Netflix WI. On the one hand, this criminally-underrated and under-seen film should be viewed by as many people as possible. On the other hand, the delicate seaside pastels and fluid animation gets short shrift from the non-HD version available. Actually, it probably looks fine on the Roku, so go for it.
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So, yeah. Over the weekend, New Hampshire State Rep. Nick Levasseur apparently put a post on his Facebook page slagging anime and by extension the entire nation of Japan. He wrote—and I quote—“anime is a prime example that 2 nukes just wasn’t enough.” First off, two obvious things: 1) He was joking, 2) The joke is in incredibly poor taste. Now, the less obvious point: Why in the hell was an elected official wasting his time—even if it was just a Facebook post—ripping on Japanese animation? Is this what we hired this dork for? Doesn’t he have better things to do with his time? Shouldn’t he be insulting John Boehner instead? I know—because Rush Limbaugh told me—that Democrats hate freedom. But do they also have to hate giant robots, large-breasted schoolgirls in tiny skirts and squeaky-voiced cartoon animals?
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