Stephen reviews: Mononoke (2007)

mononoke_1Mononoke [モノノ怪] (2007)

Starring Takahiro Sakurai, Aiko Hibi, Daisuke Namikawa, Daisuke Sakaguchi, Eiji Takemoto, Fumiko Orikasa, Hikaru Midorikawa, Hiroshi Iwasaki, Houko Kuwashima, Kōzō Shioya, Masashi Hirose, Minoru Inaba, Rie Tanaka, Ryusei Nakao, Seiji Sasaki, Takeshi Aono, Tomokazu Seki, Toshiko Fujita, Wakana Yamazaki, Yasuhiro Takato, Yoko Soumi, Yukana

Directed by Kenji Nakamura


I know you’re not supposed to judge a book (or in this case a TV series) by its cover, but sometimes that’s all you really need. As soon as I laid eyes on the cover art for Mononoke, I knew it was going to be great. My gut refused to believe otherwise. And it’s decisions like this that have made me very trusting of my gut over the years, at least when it comes to anime. My one and only concern was that the cover was not what the actual animation would look like. Thankfully that bizarre, otherworldly art design is exactly what you get on the inside.

Those light shades and faded pastels are a very unusual choice of colors for a horror story. Usually you want some all-obscuring darkness to ratchet up the mystery, but for me that bright color palette was more mysterious than any darkness could ever be. It’s clear right from the start that you are in a completely different world when you watch Mononoke, and you don’t know what you’re going to find. All that was apparent just from the box; all that remained was seeing if the show could actually live up to my foolishly high expectations. And boy did it ever!

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Stephen reviews: Blue Gender: The Warrior (2002)

bluegenderthewarrior_1Blue Gender: The Warrior [ブルージェンダー ザ・ウォリアー] (2002)

Starring Kenji Nojima, Houko Kuwashima, Katsunosuke Hori, Hisayoshi Suganuma, Akimitsu Takase, Chizu Yonemoto, Eiji Itô, Hiroshi Isobe, Hisanori Nemoto, Jōji Nakata, Nobutoshi Kanna

Directed by Koichi Ohata


What we have here is another compilation film that splices together scenes from the TV series to make a feature from the scraps. This of course means that the story is a bit disjointed, but really it’s no more so than films like Fist of the North Star or X: 1999 which did reanimate the story from scratch. What this also means is that the animation is TV-series quality. It isn’t really impressive for TV either, so its quality is noticeably different from other anime films.

A long time ago I tried to watch the TV series of Blue Gender. I don’t remember quite what turned me off to the series, but I remember thinking it was generic and kinda boring. Of course, I’ve learned since then that all anime series take at least the first episode, usually longer, to get going. Watching The Warrior I found that the story did take some interesting turns even though its initial premise looked like any other giant mecha anime with monsters overrunning the Earth.

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