Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Back for good, with more Ghibli works!

It feels good to be back! Up and running, another day (hopefully!) another post. Though it took longer then expected I'm back from educational death, in time to catch up with my cinematic activities. Missed it, craved for it and now I'm finally doing it.
 My next post will be Howl's Moving Castle (2004)  by Hayao Miyazaki. A fantasy-adventure adaptation from the acclaimed novel of the same name by British author Diana Wynne Jones.

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Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Blog Hiatus. Sorry guys...

I think that the absence of blog posts is obvious. I won't be able to post for a while, not until the end of June that is. The Exams is taking a tole on my personal life so it seems. But I will be back...real soon.
In the mean time make sure to leave your feedback (if you care to mention anything) and subscribe  and follow on Twitter / Facebook.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Paprika (2006), The everlasting dreams cutting through reality.

Directed by: Satoshi Kon | Written by: Satoshi Kon, Seishi Minakami
Produced by: Madhouse Inc.



 Science-Fiction, Thriller, Mistery 

Paprika! Once a novel written by Yasutaka Tsutsui in 1993 became a late summer anime feature film sensation by the likes of Perfect Blue (1998) and -dare I say- a more colorful reminder of Inception (2010). Being Satoshi Kon's last known feature film before his unfortunate death, it holds Kon's years of experiment and expertise fully devoted in this dream filled eye candy.
 Though generic at first Paprika (both the film and the character) catch up to it's true intention and develop a deeper sense of the collapsing dreams that overrun the psyche of many unfortunate victims.


The DC mini, a small apparatus used to enter into someone else's dream when worn by both individuals, is used to explore the subconscious as a form of modern therapy. We follow the story of Paprika, an alias used by a Dr. Atsuko "At-chan" Chiba who illegally uses the said machines on patience below the radar to help it's progress. The opening of this movie is a dream of a particular psychatic patient Dectective Tonoshimi Konokawa who is haunted by the abrupt end of his dreams after chasing a mysterious figure which ends with his escape and the sight of the death of Konokawa's latest investigation min the middle of the chasing. That said scenario derails when the said invention is stolen and used by an unknown party for malicious reasons by accessing dreams without consent and taking over their state of mind in the process. The adventure that leads to the true intentions of Atsuko Chiba's peers and the exploitation of the fundamental difference of her dead-serious personality and her flamboyant dream excavation counterpart Paprika.

It may not have a particularly dept like Perfect Blue, but it did manage to entertain and prevail where it counted: the explanation of the subconscious on an understandable level. The experience witnessed by the dreams projected by the unknown terrorist in the minds of it's victims was quite a mouthful, the visuals and diversity of elements baffled me into understanding how the said victims lost their psyche and reasonably conduct in the blink of an eye. The parade of dreams controlled by one man is stunning and is hard to forget after watching this film.
However, as the story develop and more aspects of the "dream creator" where revealed , you did expect a sudden switch in style and feel knowing. Though the dream parade was enchanting and beautiful it lacked in variation and symbolism that,even when covered by the nightmares by the real terrorist, where still left unchanged. Unlike Detective Toshimi Konokawa's dream which took some turns and revelations as his character bloomed. When explored, it wen from sub-plot to absolute dream-breach as paprika's dream extase and his intertwined. I felt like they devoted more time to the signification of his dream, which was crucial for this detective nonetheless, than the collective pool of dreams that ran amok in this film even overthrowing reality itself.

8,7 - Absolute dream extacy!
Being one that has seen all of Satoshi Kon's Feature films (with a film list to tell about it), I can safely say that this -out of all his like-minded film- is the only one to literally break that tin line between reality and fantasy in a magical yet psychotic fashion keen to the eye. tough the lack of in dept signification of the many colorful, visually-enhanced elements that virtually danced on the screen in an orchestrated fashion. The time necessary for such adjustments is neglected or filled with unnecessary turmoil.

Well, that concludes this review and all of Satoshi Kon's films on this blog. Do comment below and leave feedback and visit the now completed film hub of Satoshi Kon.


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Monday, May 28, 2012

Why Dragon Ball GT was a mistake.

Dragon Ball, the 1982 manga which stole the hearts of young readers around the world rocking the likes of Shonen manga in the process together with it's anime in 1986 and it's second part dubbed  "Dragon ball Z" , undoubtedly the most famous adaptation,  in 1989. As the manga ended after a good ten year run and the anime followed up a year later the first of many generations were devastated by the end of their trusted childhood saiyan causing a massive plea for a continuation . It is horrible -even heartbreaking- when a part of your dire childhood ends after such a long run, we all wan't more. But at what price? An ending isn't always the worst alternative.

Rumored to be the best manga ever made, Akira Toriyama struck gold when he unleashed dragon ball upon the world captivating many generation which still grows t'ill this day. It's testament goes as far as being an inspiration for the big 3 of shonen manga's: Naruto (Massashi Kishimoto), Bleach (Tite Kubo) and  One piece ( Eiichiro Oda)
Being part of the late golden age generation, I was first accustomed to dragon ball z and its Ocean dub when it hit television here in 2001 long enough to remember the sudden transition to the Funimation dub , before dragon ball kai and it's chewed up dub. And before I knew what Dragon Ball GT was...

The Inevitable end

After 325 chapter the story was drawn to an end (pun not intended... at first). It may not have been the best and most fulfilling one but it was the perfect closure we needed; peace was restored for a long time Gohan was married and independent with a promising child and Goku found a new hero who is the reincarnated version of the most ruthless villain, the only one who effectively destroyed the earth!Thus a perfect hero in his second life, kind yet inexperienced and full of power. Though we had a hard time accepting that , Akira Toriyama ensured peace that seemed to last. But with the never ending requests coupled with the creators consent and Funimations opportunity to milk yet another franchise...

Let's face it: when you love something to the point of Nostalgia it becomes hard to admit that it had to end even if the ending was right and satisfying, people will want more at any cause even if it ruins the franchise and what it stood for.
We all know that secretly, the only thing fans wanted was to relive the experience even if forced to choose between moving on or a more plausible alternative. Well, this happens when people aren't careful for what they wish for... 64 episodes of filler.

Grand Tour... Seriously?

Every transition in dragon ball from dragon gang to Z warrior had it's traits. We all enjoyed the journey to find the dragon ball and the friendship and adventure which had Chinese element based on "The journey to the west" as we explored the universe and it's many enemies we had the occasional comical relief be it the odd names (Briefs, pilaf, Oolong) or the perverted hermit. A good writer knows when to sacrifice element for innovative features to ensure the good rating which leads to the following:
I think Akira Toriyama realized that you cannot mix two crucial elements while maintaining an exciting story.When the journey ended, Toriyama went another path and choose a more action orientated approach by implementing other worlds and life forms deeming earthlings too weak to spice it up he also indulged his character into the new found dimension. Drifting away from the trusty monkey king to powerful Saiyan Effectively differentiating the two parts of goku's life. Dragon ball GT however, went a different way...

The Goku in Gt feels like a desperate attempt to recreate the dragon ball journey on a galactic level
Although there was a debatable superior among the two parts, they where both acknowledged as great due to their respective properties. But what if you could take the best out of both? The answer is: you can't.
By introducing the black-star dragon balls (and pilaf for some reason I can't possibly understand) which turned Goku back into the child he was in the beginning of all saga's, giving him somewhat the same allure as in dragon ball. It is pretty obvious that that such convenience-with the exception of made up dragon ball scattering around the galaxy- did not have any significant impact on Goku or his surrounding. Not only did they have a start, they also had a "re-newed" hero to attrack long time fans. If not for that then why didn't they just keep Uub like intended?  And (off-topic)  for god's sake why is vegeta's hair flat ?!

Thoug it was "supervised" by Akira Toriyama it did not mean it was his work, the only thing memorable added to the mix that could be credited to him was the super saiyan 4 form which was beyond believe.
GT went to far and contradicted  the original work by forcing important characters who settled down in the peaceful years  to take up the mantel as earth protector once again. Not only does it feel cheap it also has consequences on your image of the said characters in the original work, like Trunks & Goten who I can't stand in GT and because of it cannot 'un-link' the image of the young duo in Dragon ball z and their unfortunate  aftermath. It was ridiculously obvious that the younger generation was more interesting by the teenage life than battle, but due to the incomplete list of active Z- warriors and active saiyans left at the end of chapter 425 they had to improvise and make one dysfunctional group of fighters who were extra's for the only 2 characters who mattered, I don't even have to mention their names it is that obvious.

That is it... I may hit some nerves I may get some positive feedback, but I'm only describing the obvious. Do comment about your own view, It would be appreciated.


If you enjoyed this, you have no right to call the Garlic -and any other filler- bad


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Friday, May 25, 2012

Memories (1995), The segmented film.

Directed by: Kôji Morimoto, Katsuhiro Otomo, Tensai Okamura | Written by: Satoshi Kon (segment 1),Katsuhiro Otomo
Produced by: Banday Visual Company, Studio 4°C, Shochiku, Kodamsha Co.



Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Thriller

 The collaboration of 4 Animation masters as suggested in the many trailers and posters isn't falls. The 1995 segmented film Memories forms an ensemble of 3 feature films mostly based on Otomo's manga short stories. There is no question that the quality and dept is admirable among other things, but does it work as an ensemble?

The film caught my interest particularly because of the collaboration of Satoshi Kon and Katsuhiro Otomo in the first segment "Magnetic Rose". Little did I know that he did not actually direct anything until his first work in 1998 leaving me displeased with the fact he only did the script Notes
But you cannot judge such segments based out of petty presumptuousness. A film directed by such artist behind , The Animatrix "Beyond" (2003)Wolf's Rain (2003) and not to mention Otomo's previous work Akira (1982/1988). With Koji Morimoto and Tensai Okamura's experience in the countless anime works they directed/wrote/animated, the ideal episode-like feature film was not far away and made with utmost quality and efficiency. But as a full film? "efficiency" becomes a debatable praise.

The story cannot be seen as a whole and therefore cannot be review as such, the three episodes share no connection nor do they have any continuation what so ever. Unlike The Animatrix and Batman: Gotham Knight (2008) which -like this movie- was a collective of anime studios and director including Madhouse.


Episode 1

Magnetic Rose

Directed by: Kôji Morimoto | Written by: Katsuhiro Otomo,  Satoshi Kon (script)
A team of deep-space  salvage freighter get a distress signal coming from the space graveyard, they are lead to an asteroid made solely by space scrap when our two protagonists the down to earth Heinz and nonchalant womanizer Miguel are send to trace the signal which leads them into the web of a noble Opera singer or what is left of her and her tragic life while dealing with haunting memories that defy reality in every way raising the question of that distress signal was real to begin with.
This was hands down the best episode and a potential undeveloped story which could have lead to a prolonged film. The dept  and story have a tremendous impact which isn't replicated by the more easy going following episodes. Magnetic Rose set a league of it's own. The magnificent decor is paraded by it's clever 360° view which in turn stimulates the chaotic and frightening nature of particular scenes. 
This episode is a film on it's own and it is a shame that it was left "unfinished" and squeezed with two other episodes. The highlight of this movie, but then again that might just be me.

Episode 2

Stink Bomb

Directed by: Tensai Okamura | Written by: Katsuhiro Otomo
Nobuo, an employee at a medical company who is bothered by a nasty flu is advice by colleagues to try the "experimental medicine" in the Chiefs office which he mistakes for cold pills . When he wakes up the next morning he is horrified by the sight of all the dead employees who died by mysterious causes. Nobuo who foolishly ignore the cause of these deaths is tasked by the headquarter to go to Tokyo with the medical samples and files unbeknownst to the headquarter that the medicine in his body made him a walking bio-weapon which spreads his body odor like poison gas.
The dark comedy is very present in this episode as you witness an epidemic caused by a dimwit everyday man which happened to take the wrong medical sample. Nobuo is in every sense the pinnacle of stupidity. It should strike every person as odd when every one near him suddenly dies, animals and humans alike. It should clear some confusion. Not with Nobuo I was struck between entertainment and frustration by the excessive stupidity brought forth by this man. I had a hard time digesting the fact that a man covered inside deadly gas fails to understand the true cause of it even when the military is blocking his path with their every move to hinder the virus.

Episode 3

Cannon Flodder

Directed | Written by: Katsuhiro Otomo
In a heavily walled city which contains canon at every corner and every few houses in order to fight an unknown city which is implied to be nonexistent.We witness young boy who wishes to become a cannon shooter unlike his father who is a cannon-loader.
The last and more random episode of the bunch. The animation style and feel of the overall episode is more western-like due to the rough thick lines and chaotic shading. The story itself is meaningless pleasantry portrayed in a linear fashion. The few shots after the enormous Red cannon which is central and symbolic to the city strength, are seen as craters in an empty wasteland which questions the very existence of this "moving city", an interesting concept in this short episode next to the animation style.

8,5 -  Sci-Fi/ Fantasy entertainment pack
Though I enjoyed the bundle of episodes I'm still stupefied of the difference in quality between episodes. The collective rating is slightly down played by the episodes following "Magnetic Rose" which ended with a silent yet full-filling open ending. I'm well aware that the stories are based off the many short stories of Otomo which, without a doubt, is full of better alternatives to form a coherent pack of episode. I'd say it's a good time but the dept of every episode diminishes considerably due to the overwhelming performance of it's introductory episode. But opinions may vary, and so does taste. Comment bellow about your personal experience concerning this film


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Sunday, May 20, 2012

Grave Of The Fireflies (1988), The World War tragedy

Directed by: Isao Takahta | Written by: Isao Takahata, Akiyuki Nosaka (Novel)
Produced by: Studo Ghibli


  • Special Award;  31st Blue Ribbon Awards
  • Animation Feature Film (Animation Jury Award) | Rights of the Child Award; 3rd Chicago International Children's Festival
"It's hard to tell if Fireflies represents a veiled Hiroshima or not (nuclear fallout isn't even hinted at). But the story of the two kids is so tragic the details slip away." Christopher Null,

The Animated War tragedy adaptation of the Naoki Prize winning novel by Akiyuki Nosaka  Hotaru no Haka (1967). When the film launched in 1988 it was well received thrughout the 90's especially to the acclaimed Chicago Times critic Roger Ebert. It's obvious that this film earned it's place among the many films that stand out  in the Ghibli Collection

Grave of the Fireflies is a true loss of words concerning the profound dept an Animation can deliver. Despite the fantasy filled animated adventure epics, Studio Ghibli reminds us that they can still deliver the much needed sentimental value in a respectable non-forced fashion. You are left with the sole thought that lingers in your mind far after the movie ends: what if that happened to me?


The story starts at Sannomiya station at the end of Word War II in 1945 as we witness the last moments of a malnourished weak 14 year old boy sorted with the trash while his last possession is thrown away revealing ashes. That same object, an old fruit drops box is a recurring item in the film that will gradually bare sentimental value to the link between Seita (Tsutomi Tatsumi) and his 4 year old sister Setsuko (Ayano Shiraishi) who went from a stern but happy life to homeless and on their own after the fire bomb raids in 1945 by the hands of American Air crafts which is shown after the young man's death. Scenes that would seem unbearable for a boy that age are taken surprisingly well despite the fact that it would cause emotional breakdown in most cases. It is heavily implied in this film that he kept strong for his sister which he took care of most of the film making her his everyday concern and priority even after ration waved and the odds where against him.
What is shown as story can be depicted as a stream of events that deteriorate as Seita tries to nourish and protect her 4 year old sister after her mother died in the aforementioned air raid, attacks which happened frequently throughout the movie incensing fear in an already  struggling civilization. It can only be described as disturbing when a a boy witness the gruesome incident first hand carrying it in his heart shielded from her innocent sister. The bravery shown by this young boy was encouraging and was the main fuel of this movie. Despite the little character development and the fact that most of the story line was substituted with emotional imagery. You can still connect to some extent to the hardship through the well written screenplay and tragedy in general.

 It is refreshing angle from the usual soldier-driven war tragedies were civilians are pestered by opposing forces or were the movie is seen from a battalion's perspective pushing its people to the background as recurring characters for emotive credibility. Soldiers were mentioned and implied in his movie but it did just fine without dragging the unconditional loss of their many men in front of the screen as a pity method. I liked that...

8,9 - Emotional dept with epic proportions
I can proudly admit that this is the most emotional awakening Anime film I've ever seen. It even gave Millennium Actress, a film I so dearly admire, a run for it's money. Even as apathetic person I am couldn't shake the image of the well projected reality that is war time, seeing myself in the same unbarable situation.
If you are looking for a well portrayed "cry-fest", do not pass off this one. Comment below and share feedback as always.



I have extra's that came with the dvd (Character art,interviews,etc.), I intend to upload them this week. Stay tuned for more.

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Wednesday, May 16, 2012

"Ohayo" (Good Morning) a NHK short film by Satoshi Kon

Ohayo (オハヨウ), Ani-Kuri 15 

Ani-Kuri 15 where 15 Short Films that ran on the japanese tv channel Nippon Hōsō Kyōkai (NHK) 3 seasons long as fillers between programs. I was able to retrieve the last one made by satoshi Kon in 2008. For those who saw it on Twitter/Facebook/Google+ keep sharing!


*Also I will review Paprika AFTER I finish one or two other Films.

Comment below !

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