by Jeremy Clarke.
The first Japanese science fiction film to be made in colour, Warning from Space (1956) features peaceful star-shaped aliens, one of whom transforms herself into a nightclub singer to make contact with Japanese scientists. Not that the aliens possess of any discernible gender themselves, but the human likenesses into which they are transformed most definitely do. If you watch the original Japanese version, the aliens’ transformation into human form doesn’t take place until a third of the way in. When the Americans got hold of the film, they not only dubbed it into English, but also did some deft re-editing to create new opening and closing sequences so that the film now both starts and ends inside the alien ship. The closing sequence is basically the transformation sequence backwards.
On their ship, the aliens as designed by avant-garde artist Taro Okamoto are actors in five-pointed star suits, which to Western eyes, used to special effects aimed at photorealism, looks as completely bonkers as it sounds. The accompanying booklet, sadly not sent to journalists with Arrow’s review disc, apparently contains some writing about Okamoto.
By Andrew Osmond.
As of writing, Gundam NT, also known as Gundam Narrative, is the newest cinema Gundam, opening in Japan in November 2018. This blog frequently highlights the fact that many Gundam anime are designed to be accessible to newcomers. Gundam NT, quite honestly, isn’t one of them. Firstly, the film’s very much a sequel to the lavish series Gundam Unicorn, which is a good starting point for newbies, covered on the blog here. Gundam NT picks up several of Unicorn’s story threads, and has appearances by some of its characters, though the protagonists are new.
(Warning: Some broad spoilers for Gundam Unicorn follow.) Continue Reading
By Andrew Osmond.
One of the many mysteries in Promised Neverland, based on a bestselling Shonen Jump manga nearer Death Note than Naruto, is the enigmatic title. It might be a Peter Pan reference; after the first episode, you could understand the child characters not wanting to become grown-ups. Or you may see “Neverland” as referring to the idyllic, Edenic childhood existence that’s established in the show’s opening… before the horror begins. Continue Reading
By Shelley Pallis.
I am, above all, envious of Christopher Harding for coming with the idea for his new book in the first place – writers struggle to find ways to make history palatable and digestible for the general reader, and the very idea for The Japanese: A History in Twenty Lives, is deceptively simple.
Beginning with Queen Himiko, the first verifiable name to turn up in Japanese history, he uses 20 figures as paragons of their eras, rushing through Japan’s tumultuous history. There are echoes, here, of the documentary fast-forward of Satoshi Kon’s Millennium Actress, as Harding charges pell-mell through the centuries, pausing every few minutes for a moment of delightful, insightful slow-motion.
By Andrew Osmond
Demon Slayer’s hero is a boy, Tanjiro, in Taisho-period Japan – in other words, the reign of the Taisho Emperor (1912-26) – Japan’s “Edwardian” era. However, Demon Slayer often feels like a story of a much older Japan – centuries older, even. Tanjiro is visiting town to sell charcoal, which his humble family makes from gathered wood at Tanjiro’s remote home on a snow-covered mountain. It’s a hard life, but the show makes clear the boy’s family is warm and loving… so clear that most viewers will guess what’s coming. Continue Reading