By Paul Browne.
It’s a tough life when all you want to do is pootle away on your anime blog – but then real life comes knocking on your door. Welcome to the world of Junichiro Kagami, a gifted genius who once had papers published in academic journals aged just 17, but has since become absorbed by anime, manga and games. He’s your typical NEET (not in education, employment or training) and is determined to stay that way – except his sister has other ideas.
Angry at Junichiro’s shut-in tendencies, Suzune Kagami arranges a job for him as a substitute teacher at Icho Academy. Suzune is incensed by her brother’s initial reluctance to take the post. In his defence, Kagami explains that he suffers from “YD” – a condition in which he cannot do anything that he doesn’t actually yearn to do. But the benefits of employment finally win him over (assisted by Suzune waving a baseball bat in striking distance of his prized anime figurines). Continue Reading
By Shelley Pallis.
Thirteen-year-old Yoshio Kobayashi has an odd reaction when he is accused of murdering his creepy teacher. Instead of whining that it wasn’t him (it wasn’t), he throws himself with gusto into solving the case, realising in the protest that crime investigation is about to become his lifelong vocation. He is so enthusiastic about it, in fact, that he badgers high-school detective Kogoro Akechi to take him under his wing so they can solve crimes together. Akechi agrees... just as long as Kobayashi isn’t a murderer (he isn’t).
Kogoro Akechi has a long history in Japanese fiction, first turning up in the 1925 story “The Murders on D Hill.” Created as a Japanese answer to Sherlock Holmes, his original, adult-themed adventures were transformed from 1930 onwards by the addition of a teenage sidekick, Yoshio Kobayashi, himself the leader of an amateur sleuthing circle called the Boys’ Detective Club. With and without the boy detectives, Akechi’s adventures stretched across four decades, and have been adapted for Japanese stage and screen on multiple occasions. The serial’s influences can be felt everywhere from the CLAMP School Detectives to the live-action K20: Legend of the Mask, which retold the story of Akechi and Kobayashi’s arch-enemy, the Fiend with 20 Faces. Continue Reading
By Andrew Osmond.
I’ll assume everyone clicking on this review knows who (or less gallantly, what) Hatsune Miku is, so let’s skip that. On Saturday night, the green twin-tailed Vocaloid hit London for her very first “live” performance at Kensington Olympia. If we were reviewing her performance as a piece of software, then it’d be fair to describe Miku’s Brit debut as entirely satisfying, with neither disappointments nor surprises. As for the crowd, the audience seemed highly enthused throughout the two-hour gig – not wild all the time, but fully engaged with a performer who, after all, doesn’t actually exist. Continue Reading
By Jasper Sharp.
The Lone Wolf and Cub (also known as the Baby Cart) series, comprised six feature-length films released between 15th January 1972 and 24th April 1974, which are the subject of the ninth and most recent publication from UK film distributor Arrow’s recently established Arrow Books line.
Father, Son, Sword is Arrow’s third title devoted to Japanese material, following on from Andrew Osmond’s monograph on Ghost in the Shell, published little over a year ago, and – if one doesn’t count Cult Cinema: An Arrow Video Companion (2016), an anthology comprised largely of liner note essays reproduced from their home video releases – the book that launched the imprint series proper, Unchained Melody: The Films of Meiko Kaji by Tom Mes. Continue Reading
By Motoko Tamamuro.
I think we can see why this one wasn’t translated into English. From the moment you open Dare mo Kataranakatta Ghibli wo Kataro (Let’s Talk About the Ghibli That No One Talks About) by Ghost in the Shell director Mamoru Oshii, you are assaulted by a machine-gun salvo of incendiary language. Hayao Miyazaki “cannot direct” – he is “less than second-rate as a director.” “There is no coherent clear story”. “Mood” and “ideas” dictate his films and “there is no logic”. Meanwhile, Isao Takahata turned into a “shit intellect” who created “propaganda films.” Continue Reading