By Andrew Osmond.
Gundam F91 is a feature film, released in Japanese cinemas in 1991. It’s also effectively a one-off. It has its own set of characters, and it’s not directly derived from any of the other versions of Gundam. Although it involves several of the franchise’s big-name creators, it’s not a good starting point for newbies – there are many better “beginner” Gundams. But if you’ve seen at least some Gundam anime, then you’ll find yourself on familiar ground.
By Jonathan Clements.
It is the ultimate in blood-sports – hundreds of the most beautiful women in the world, locked away in a palace where their sole chance of advancement is to catch the eye and bear the heir of the Emperor. Throw in scheming eunuchs, bitter sister-wife rivalries, and the ever-present danger that years of careful seduction will be ruined by the next young dollymop to sashay across the threshold, and it’s a heady mix of teen drama and intrigue.
by Jeremy Clarke.
You’d be forgiven for assuming Mothra (1961) to be a typical Toho monster movie in which a giant moth attacks Tokyo. However, the film single-handedly redefined the genre as much as the original Godzilla film defined it.
By Hugh David.
“Abandoned artificial satellites. Tanks jettisoned from space shuttles. Refuse generated during space station construction. Debris of all shapes and sizes is travelling around the Earth at speeds of up to eight kilometres a second. Should this debris collide with a spacecraft, it could result in a terrible accident. For this reason, mankind has been confronted by the necessity of collecting this debris. This is a story of 2075, a time in which this space debris has become a major problem.” [Opening voiceover to the English language version of Planetes.]
By Shelley Pallis.
In an already crowded field of critical appraisals of Ghibli films, the Toulouse-based Third Editions offer their latest English-language publication, Gael Berton’s The Works of Hayao Miyazaki: The Japanese Animation Master. It’s a beautifully designed book, on posh paper with a pretty cover, although one immediately wonders whether the world really needs another film-by-film run-through. It’s been 22 years since Helen McCarthy’s Hayao Miyazaki: Master of Japanese Animation first appeared; and more recently we’ve seen Raz Greenberg’s account of early Miyazaki, and Susan Napier’s magisterial career overview, not to mention the publication of Miyazaki’s own journalism in two volumes, Steve Alpert’s tell-all memoir, and a slew of other books, including individual monographs on Spirited Away and Kiki’s Delivery Service (coming soon). And that’s just in English – the French have even got a bloody Ghibli cookbook!
There is, in fact, an overwhelming amount of material already available, which means new authors, particularly of pricey hardbacks, should really make sure they have something to say on a topic that not only risks becoming hackneyed, but is already littered with far too many slipshod works. There is a vast archive of interesting material still waiting to be mined in Japanese, although to be fair, the majority of the also-rans, cash-ins and wastes of time are also in Miyazaki’s native language.