It’s pretty easy to break Project Blue Earth SOS down into its individual similarities and influences, were one so inclined. On paper, the series blends together themes, ideas, and visuals from Plan 9 From Outer Space, Independence Day, Star Wars, War of the Worlds (moreso the 1953 Byron Haskin film then other versions), The Hardy Boys, Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow, and even other anime titles like Neon Genesis Evangelion and Giant Robo. But the series is easily far more than the sum of its parts, a rollicking retro-futuristic tale of alien invaders, boy geniuses, and cool gizmos that revels in its vintage style and flair.
My Christ and Pop Culture colleague Christopher Hutton has written several times about “digital dualism”, i.e., the (false) belief that people have that their online/digital lives are something separate from their physical/analog lives. Sword Art Online explores this concept in the guise of an anime series about an advanced MMORPG and the players stuck inside it, and it does so in an entertaining and whimsical-yet-serious manner. Well, up until the series’ second half, that is.
When I first described the plot of Kids On The Slope on an online forum, one of the other forum members joked “That doesn’t sound much like the anime I’ve seen. Is one of the students a demon-possessed cyborg who got stranded on Earth when his inter-dimensional spaceship was pulled through a wormhole by a malfunctioning dishwasher?” If you’ve ever spent any time watching anime, then you’ll know why that question was so funny: anime can be pretty weird, especially the stuff that makes it across the ocean. But what many Americans don’t realize is that anime is a very broad medium: it’s not all giant robots, buxom ladies with big guns, and angst-ridden teenage protagonists.
Whenever someone asks me for anime recommendations, one title that always comes to mind is Last Exile (2003). While not perfect — the ending is a bit rushed, for instance — it still has a lot going for it: excellent animation and design, interesting characters, and above all else, a fully realized and well-drawn (npi) world and mythology. As I wrote in my Last Exile review:
Although the seeds of Last Exile‘s story have been sown in these 4 episodes, much of the time and effort so far has gone into realizing the world of Prester. The episodes take their time developing, offering many strange and wonderful sights to behold — those cliffbound cities, a maze of underground ruins, an array of vanships flying through the morning sky. But there are more subtle touches as well — economic details, daily customs and habits, architecture, the cockpit of Claus and Lavie’s vanship.
Everything in Prester seems familiar and even nostalgic, but with an alien twist that makes it feel strangely unique at the same time.
Needless to say, I was very excited when Gonzo announced they were making a Last Exile sequel. I was also nervous that the sequel would fall short of the original. After sitting through the sequel, though, I can safely say that “fall short” doesn’t even begin to describe Last Exile: Fam, the Silver Wing. It’s a letdown in almost every possible way imaginable — and it’s all the more disappointing because the storyline and setting does have potential.
Set in Japan's Sengoku (aka "Warring States") era, Sword of the Stranger begins with the escape of a young boy named Kotaro from a burning monastery. Left to fend for himself with his trusty canine companion Tobimaru, Kotaro makes his way through the Japanese countryside, surviving as best he can while trying to make his way to a distant temple.
Makoto Shinkai only has three proper titles (or four, if you count 1999's She And Her Cat) under his belt, and only one of those is a true full-length film, but he's already been announced as the new Hayao Miyazaki. I'll admit, I've done my fair share of stoking that particular fire, due my effusive praise for Voices From A Distant Star (2000) and The Place Promised In Our Early Days (2004). But when you consider Shinkai's work, with its lush and evocative animation and artwork, and its equally emotional storylines, the only name that readily comes to mind is that of anime's grand master.
Shinji Aramaki's previous Appleseed movie was much more than met the eyes. On the surface, it was an ultra-flashy, CG-powered anime movie that utilized motion capture and facial imaging to give the animation — and the countless explosions and mecha battles — a greater degree of realism.
In their January/February 2007 issue, the long running anime magazine Protoculture Addicts published an article titled "Top 9 Anime Directors (Who Aren't Hayao Miyazaki)". The list included a number of noteworthy names, including Mamoru Oshii (Ghost In The Shell) and Shinichiro Watanabe (Cowboy Bebop). However, the name at the top of the list — Satoshi Kon — might have taken some readers by surprise.
To this day, I still don't really know why I picked up the first disc of Haibane Renmei when I saw it sitting there in the store. I don't recall ever hearing much about it beforehand, and a quick glance at the synopsis would probably have done nothing to really pique my curiosity. Perhaps it was the moody, ethereal artwork on the cover, or that Yoshitoshi ABe's name appeared in the credits.
There's really no use in denying it. The simple truth about Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children is that your enjoyment of the film will be almost entirely dependent on how well you knew and enjoyed Final Fantasy VII, the game.