By Andrew Osmond
Giovanni’s Island is a blend of history, fiction and fantasy. The main story is about two young brothers, and what happens to them when their home, an island to the north of mainland Japan, is occupied by Russians at the end of World War II. But mixed into the drama are the boys’ fantasies about a steam train which travels through the stars, searching for the True Heaven. These fantasies aren’t just about escaping the world’s hardships. They’re a way for kids to understand the world, to fight through it, to transform fear, pain and even death.
It’s not the first film to use this device. Guillermo del Toro’s celebrated live-action film Pan’s Labyrinth (2006) interwove the historical violence of Franco’s Spain with a young girl’s terrifying fairy-tale adventures (two words: Pale Man ). An earlier film, 1973’s Spirit of the Beehive, was also set against Franco’s Spain, where another girl dreams of the Frankenstein Monster, turning it into a benign woodland spirit not unlike Miyazaki’s Totoro.
It’s easy to enjoy Giovanni’s Island without knowing the real book which inspires the boys’ dreams. But if you want to know why it’s left such an impression on Japanese kids, read on…
Racing from the void, golden against the blackness, a square of light fills the universe. “It’s a field of corn!” exclaims one of the child adventurers, who happens to be a human-sized cat. Their steam train pulls in at a deserted, sun-drenched platform. Overheard, suspended from nothing, is a clock from which a gleaming pendulum swings, crisply clacking like a heartbeat. Music throbs softly through the cornfield from an invisible orchestra. A human girl leans forward. “That sounds like the New World Symphony...” Continue Reading
It's time for the second ever Anime Limited Podcast! On this episode Jeremy Graves is joined by Andrew Partridge, Kerry Kassim and (for the first time) Kat Hall to talk all manner of subjects in a fun filled 43 minutes of audio goodness.
Topics discussed (but are not limited to) include the Anime Japan event in Tokyo next week, what constitutes a title of ours getting an 'Ultimate Edition' release, seasonal ice cream, releasing soundtracks, Arabic dubbed programmes and much more (including some exclusive tidbits on an upcoming release of ours.) Continue Reading
By Andrew Osmond
What’s it like to be a commercial animator? Take a furious, crazy-seeming animation like Space Dandy - can the experience of making it ever resemble that of watching it? Most times, probably not. Don’t trust those jolly ‘making-ofs.’ We know commercial animation can be a soul-destroying production-line, as in the “Banksy” opening of The Simpsons, or that Paranoia Agent story where the animators are so exhausted and stupefied that they don’t notice a head-bashing killer.
Space Dandy, though, feels different. It’s a real effort to give freedom to the staff who worked on it, lifted rather than smothered by the show’s big star. That star, of course, is Shinichiro Watanabe, director of the landmark Cowboy Bebop nearly twenty years ago. Since then he’s burnished his reputation with the hip-hop historical Samurai Champloo, and a couple of segments of the bestselling Animatrix. More recently, Kids on the Slope was notable for its vision of artistic creation, where teen musicians jam joyfully together. It’s the opposite of the psychotically competitive jazz battles in the recent live-action film Whiplash. Continue Reading
It' time for our tenth Anime Limited Newswire. (Yes we've been doing this for ten weeks already.)
According to Tom Smith
From bringing the funk to Cowboy Bebop and helping to make it one of the coolest anime, ever; to creating the haunting, cyber-punk soundscape of Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex; Yoko Kanno has not only cemented her place into Japanese animation history, the famed composer is also one of the most versatile, influential and biggest names in the industry. Here are seven reasons why.
Step aside Miku Hatsune and chums, long before the famous digital diva was selling out arenas in Japan (and gaining Daily Mail page space), anime fans were introduced to their own virtual idol courtesy of 1994’s sc-fi classic Macross Plus. It featured a computer-generated hologram by the name of Sharon Apple, who, along with supposedly having artificial intelligence, had become one of the biggest names in entertainment in the year of 2040. She could also control minds with her music – a bit like Taylor Swift.
Focusing on the idea of mind control, Kanno set about creating music for Ms. Apple that would have a ‘brainwash’ feel to it, using plenty of reverb, low ranges and a Church-like elements to create an uneasy feeling. Her idea worked so well that it eventually led to her re-evaluating the power of music when fans wrote to her expressing feelings of suicide when listening to Apple’s songs. Listen to this at your own risk. Continue Reading