Awesome news for fans of documentaries and Anime. As someone who is getting increasingly frustrated with the state of modern day “cinema”, I find myself turning more and more to documentary films and TV series. You can try Docplay for 30 days for free. $6.95 per month afterwards.
Saitama is a hero. Not that anybody seems to know it. He does not have a cool superhero name or flashy powers or a fan club. He is a regular-looking bald guy in a cape. Continue reading
Madman proudly presents CELEBRATE STUDIO GHIBLI, a month-long celebration of the complete theatrical works, and more, from the acclaimed animation house – in cinemas in Australia and New Zealand, from August 24th to September 20th, 2017. Continue reading
Death Note is one of the most famous anime series of all time. It began life as a manga in 2003 written by Tsugumi Ohba and illustrated by Takeshi Obata. From there came the anime series, four live-action films, assorted live-action TV series plus – at time of writing – an impending English-language version by Netflix and helmed by Adam Wingard (You’re Next, The Guest). Continue reading
Around the mid 2000s Anime started getting really big. Emos liked it and nerds liked it, all of a sudden it was everywhere. I didn’t get this new phenomenon. Why now? I wasn’t ready to spend my money on anything but everything coming out on DVD from various companies and it just seemed like such a sprawling genre to get into it that I just didn’t. Turns out I’m an Anime geek from way back. From about ages 5-10 I was obssessed with Sailor Moon, Speed Racer and my favourite by far, Samurai Pizza Cats. I had no idea these shows were considered “Anime”, they were just cartoons to me. To get to the point, I still haven’t really ventured into the world of Anime, I did enjoy the Death Note Anime series but I’ve been pretty slack on checking out any others, so if you can recommend any good places to start leave me a comment below.
Watch Tokyo Ghoul for free on AnimeLab.com! Direct from Japan, new episodes every week.
In modern day Tokyo, society lives in fear of Ghouls: mysterious creatures that look exactly like humans, yet hunger insatiably for their flesh. None of this matters to Ken Kaneki, a bookish and ordinary young man, until a dark and violent encounter turns him into the first ever Ghoul-human half-breed. Trapped between two worlds, Ken must survive the violent conflicts of warring Ghoul factions while attempting to learn more about Ghoul society, his newfound powers, and the fine line between man and monster.
Visit AnimeLab.com to register or log in with your Facebook account to start watching.
Imagine if it were possible to detect not only crimes, but the urge to commit crimes? If there was a way to tell if someone had the capability of lawbreaking, enabling them to be treated, imprisoned or even executed before any harm actually takes place? Such is the world of Psycho-Pass.
The 22-episode anime series is set in Tokyo 70 years in the future. It is a near-utopia for most of its residents as the Sibyl online system enables police to detect ‘latent criminals’ by the colour of their ‘psycho-pass’. This personality measurement system is also used to determine which job a person is suited to and establishes the boundaries by which the populace are to live their lives.
Into this environment steps fresh new inspector Akane Tsunemori. She joins a police force where inspectors are in charge of enforcers. These are themselves latent criminals charged with doing the ‘dirty work’, as exposure to too much criminal activity and dark thoughts can potentially cloud an inspector’s psycho-pass and make them also latent criminals.
In the middle of the 19th century, the traditional feudal system in Japan is in decline. The Bakumatsu war has seen the shogunate replaced by a centralised Government. The nationalist forces, fighting for a brave New Age, including the legendary skills of a swordsman known as Battosai (Takeru Sato).
Now, the war a decade over, Battosai has sworn off killing and has taken the name of Kenshin Himura. The guilt of so many deaths weighing heavily on him, Kenshin wanders from place to place, helping those in need. His travels lead him to Tokyo and a failing dojo, operated by a spirited and idealistic young woman named Kaoru Kamiya (Emi Takei).
But more menacingly, Kenshin finds an assassin has been plaguing local law enforcement under the banner of Kaoru’s dojo. To make matters worse, the assassin’s name…is Battosai.
Rurouni Kenshin is the live action adaptation of the popular manga and anime of the same name – or as it is known in the West, Samurai X. Director Keishi Ohtomo and his team were clearly acutely aware of the love many held for the source material and the attention to detail in casting, costuming, props and even character movement is impressive. This does lead to the odd problem carrying over, such as when characters refer to Kenshin’s war time activities “14 years ago” despite actor Takeru Sato clearly being in his early 20s.
If such aspects might suggest this is just a soulless, slavish recreation, that would be completely inaccurate, for Rurouni Kenshin is a hugely satisfying slice of action with a side helping of melodrama.
The story involves a criminal plot to flood the country with high-grade opium. The money raised from the drugs is then funnelled into the purchase of guns and hence, a new army for this brave new Japan. But when the lead chemist Megumi (Yu Aoi) escapes the clutches of chief gangster Kanryu Takeda (the scenery-chewing Teruyuki Kagawa) and seek solace at Kaoru’s dojo, Kenshin is dragged into the conflict and at last must decide whether to return to his killing ways or risk losing everything.
The set up allows for a number of fight scenes of escalating drama and complexity. The film may boast luxurious period production design and excellent cinematography, but it is the fights that really stand out and the stars of the piece. Whip-fast swordplay, a touch of wire fu and a strong vein of humour and creativity make these absolutely top drawer slices of action. It helps that they are superbly shot and always maintain a clear sense of character and geography.
Perhaps the drama gets a bit heavy-handed at times, with the emotional hand-wringing wearing out its welcome and getting fairly repetitive by the end, but that is small criticism against the wealth of just damn good fun that the film rolls out.
A slick action extravaganza, Rurouni Kenshin is a samurai sword epic with a big heart and a bigger sense of fun. Check it out.
The main extra on board is a 20-minute “Making Of”. This is actually raw behind-the-scenes footage with no commentary.
Despite the dryness, this is actually quite entertaining as it primarily showcases the fights scenes, giving a glimpse at the extreme levels of organisation required to create the mass battles in the film. We also see the actors training and, most endearingly, the wrap moments for the two leads.
Available on R4 DVD from Madman Entertainment.
Anime series tend to have a dedication to an inherent mythology that Western shows – with the exception of outings such as Lost – cannot measure up to. They also tend to be steadily paced, with answers coming on a progressive basis, rather than all of the exposition crammed up front. Darker Than Black is one such example.
Death Note began as a manga, then an anime and the phenomenon burst over into two live-action films. The second of these, Death Note: The Last Name seemed to wrap the story up as the owner of the death note, a book where any name written means the death of that person, was beaten by genius detective L, but only at the cost of L sacrificing himself by writing his name in the death note.
So what do you do if the films make so much money a third is demanded?
Taking advantage of a gap in the plot, L: Change The World works on the premise that, after writing his name in Light Yagami’s death note, L has 23 days before his death. He uses the time to try and resolve as many outstanding cases worldwide as possible before uncovering a conspiracy to wipe out almost the entire global population using a super-virus. Time is running out not only for L, but potentially for the human race as well.
Shusuke Kaneko does not return as director this time around. Instead, the reins are handed to Ring mainman Hideo Nakata. On the other side of the camera, Kenichi Matsuyama reprises his role as L, plus blink-and-you’ll-miss-them cameos from the cast of the previous films during a breakneck tie up of the dangling plot threads in the first few minutes of L: Change The World.
Indeed, the opening of the film serves simply to get rid of the baggage of the previous films and play what is, at its heart, a very familiar bio-terrorism threat movie. An organisation of evil people with guns and the odd black suit ‘n’ facial scar want to bring AN END TO THE WORLD and our eponymous hero must stop them.
It is all fairly pedestrian stuff, given a slight shake-up by Matsuyama’s quirky L as he finds himself acting babysitter to two children who are survivors of the virus and hold the key to the development of its antidote. The objective seems to be to give L a little more humanity beyond his dispassionate analytical nature, but it all feels somewhat twee and does not add the addition character dimension it may have intended.
The Death Note mythos is either ignored or shaken up (apparently Watari is mentor to a whole cavalcade of genuises, each denoted by a single letter of the alphabet), but there is the odd tip of the hat to fans of the manga or anime. Most notably, a character gets named ‘Near’ – albeit in a fairly superfluous manner.
A serviceable thriller, L: Change The World is a journeyman film that, while not terrible, does seem to squander both the rich Death Note concepts and the talents of director Hideo Nakata. Decent, but somewhat forgettable and a disappointing close to an otherwise solid trilogy of live-action films.
- Making of L: Change The World
- Interview with Kenichi Matsuyama
- Stills gallery
Available on R4 DVD from Madman Entertainment.