By Andrew Osmond.
In the recent book Interpreting Anime, Christopher Bolton quoted a barbed comment by director Isao Takahata about his Ghibli colleague. “With Miyazaki, you have to totally believe in the world of the film,” Takahata said. “He is demanding that the audience enter the world he has created completely. The audience is being asked to surrender.”
Bolton built on that comment, arguing that the immersive qualities of Miyazaki’s works reject the approach of much literature and also of “politically productive” anime directors such as Oshii, Otomo and Kon. What Miyazaki does not do, Bolton argues, is “move us in and out of the story in a way that makes us critically consider how language, fiction and media shape our experience of the world.” Whereas other directors may risk cynicism, relativism or confusion, Bolton fears Miyazaki’s films run “the risk of certainty, the loss of critical distance.” Continue Reading
By Jasper Sharp.
Satoshi Kon’s Millennium Actress (2001), uses its heroine to explore themes of subjectivity and spectatorship, with a topic that might at first seem better suited to live action. In all those elements, it bears some similarities with his debut feature Perfect Blue (1997), which pitched the viewer into the fragmenting worldview of a retired teen pop idol, haunted by her former stage persona. Both films played with audience expectations as to what was permissible or appropriate within the medium, while blurring the boundaries between the illusory and the real through a labyrinthine series of flashbacks, shifting character perspectives, films within films and dream sequences. The crucial difference with Millennium Actress, however, is its marked lightness of tone. Continue Reading
By Andrew Osmond.
Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress was first broadcast as a 12-part serial in Japan last year, on Fuji TV’s prestigious “Noitamina” slot. It was subsequently shunted into a specially edited two-part cinema edition, with new scenes at the beginning and end – and because the original series only ran for 12 parts, the film edition only had to trim a small proportion of the story to make everything fit. Continue Reading
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