Macross Plus: Movie Edition [マクロスプラス MOVIE EDITION] (1995)
Starring Takumi Yamazaki, Unsho Ishizuka, Rika Fukami, Mako Hyodo, Megumi Hayashibara, Tomohiro Nishimura, Kenji Utsumi, Shou Hayami
Directed by Shoji Kawamori & Shinichiro Watanabe
Shoji Kawamori is more prolific as a mechanical designer than as a director. It’s been his primary job in dozens of anime, and he even designed several of the early Transformers toys. Directing on a frequent basis has been a fairly recent development in his career, and it was 10 years between his directorial debut, Macross: Do You Remember Love?, and this, his second time as director (unless you count the short film Flashback 2012, which was mostly compiled clips from the original Macross). And it’s a good thing he decided to get back into the game, because this is a complete reversal of the bland rehash that was Macross II. We’re also lucky to have it at all. Due to a nightmare of legal red tape, the only other Macross series to see an official, unedited release in America are Macross II and an absurdly overpriced version of the original TV series.
Macross Plus wasn’t without production quandaries, though. Kawamori couldn’t secure funding for the film version he intended it to be, so he had to make it as a four-part miniseries, releasing one episode at a time. Once the series was completed, he hacked huge chunks out, added a few new scenes, redid the voice acting (or perhaps just used alternate takes), and then rearranged what was left into this movie edition. Throughout high school, the series was my favorite anime by far, so the film version always feels odd to me. The acting seems off since it has different inflection than what I’m used to, and the events feel oddly displaced. It has, however, been a long time since I last watched either version, and that has given me the distance necessary to look at the movie edition with less clouded eyes and appreciate it more as its own work.
Continue reading Stephen reviews: Macross Plus: Movie Edition (1995) →
Starring Gary Daniels, Malcolm McDowell, Costas Mandylor, Downtown Julie Brown, Dante Basco, Nalona Herron, Melvin Van Peebles, Clint Howard, Chris Penn, Andre Rosey Brown, Isako Washio, Paulo Tocha
Directed by Tony Randel
Now what on Earth am I doing reviewing a live-action American film, you might ask. Well, if your memory reaches back a few weeks, you might remember my review of the anime Fist of the North Star, and this is the live-action adaptation of the series, though not specifically of that 1986 film. It claims to be the first Hollywood adaptation of an anime, and in the absence of any contrary evidence, I’m not going to argue.
The use of the word “Hollywood” implies an impressive big-budget production, but that really isn’t the case. Kill Bill this ain’t. You’re also probably questioning if a live-action American film could possibly capture the spirit of an anime, especially one as absurd as Fist of the North Star. Obviously you can’t expect to see a 20-foot-tall giant turn his skin into steel and trample an entire army. And since shit like that is the main draw of the anime title, you have to go into this version with some vastly different expectations.
Continue reading Stephen reviews: Fist of the North Star (1995) →
Legend of Crystania [はじまりの冒険者たち レジェンド・オブ・クリスタニア, Hajimari no Bōkenshatachi: Rejendo obu Kurisutania] (1995)
AKA First Adventurers: Legend of Crystania
Starring Hikaru Midorikawa, Mitsuki Yayoi, Kiyoshi Kobayashi, Sakiko Tamagawa, Chinami Nishimura, Kazuki Yao, Toshihiko Seki, Fumihiko Tachiki
Directed by Ryutaro Nakamura
This film supposedly ties into an anime series called Record of Lodoss War. I saw that series once upon a time, but I honestly don’t remember much about it. I even had trouble remembering its name just now. It developed a cult following for some reason, but I never really saw why. I enjoyed it at the time, but it never struck me as particularly great, or even unique. Legend of Crystania has left much the same impression on me, and like Lodoss War, I will probably forget most of it in a month or so.
It’s actually rather hard to come up with anything to say about Crystania, because there really isn’t anything good or bad about this film. It’s positively average. It’s a typical revenge story where the main character discovers that vengeance won’t make his life better, just like every other revenge story out there. It’s also a typical fantasy adventure across a magical landscape that really isn’t all that amazing because we’ve seen it all before. And it’s the typical coming of age tale of a young nobody getting sucked into a grand adventure and becoming a stronger and more reliable somebody.
Continue reading Stephen reviews: Legend of Crystania (1995) →