Stephen reviews: Space Adventure Cobra (1982)

36672_280812_112738Space Adventure Cobra [スペースアドベンチャー コブラ Cobra Gekijōban] (1982)

Starring Shigeru Matsuzaki, Akiko Nakamura, Toshiko Fujita, Jun Fubiki, Yoshiko Sakakibara, Reiko Tajima, Akira Kume, Goro Mitsumi

Directed by Osamu Dezaki

The ’80s were a magical time, as anyone who lived through the era can attest. Space Adventure Cobra got an extra dose of that special charm, and if you’re a fan of that time period you will love it. Perhaps it would be more accurate to say that it got an extra dose of ’70s charm (another magical era all its own), since the manga it is based upon began in that decade. Cobra is a bizarre psychedelic space opera filled with over-the-top action and a heaping mountain of sexy girls in varying degrees of undress. Sense? We don’t need sense. We have crazy-awesome, and that’s even better.

The space pirate Cobra is famed for being the only guy who can transform his left arm into a psycho gun, which is apparently pretty damn powerful. But since he pissed off just about everybody in the galaxy, he’s racked up the largest bounty ever. So Cobra has decided to lie low for a while. But he falls for Jane, a beautiful bounty hunter that’s been tracking him down. Turns out she wants his help rescuing her sister from prison. Cobra is eager to please, even though it means showing his face again and tangling with his old rival, Crystal Boy. If you think that name’s a little too cheesy, there are other translations that call him Crystal Bowie, but screw that shit; I’ll take my ’80s action adventures with extra cheese, thank you.

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Stephen reviews: From Up On Poppy Hill (2011)

From_Up_On_Poppy_Hill_Poster_1_640x948From Up On Poppy Hill [コクリコ坂から Kokuriko-Zaka Kara] (2011)

Starring Masami Nagasawa, Junichi Okada, Keiko Takeshita, Jun Fubuki, Yuriko Ishida, Takashi Naito, Shunsuke Kazama, Nao Omori, Teruyuki Kagawa, Haruka Shiraishi

Directed by Goro Miyazaki

Studio Ghibli has been doing a lot of adaptations. Howl’s Moving Castle, Tales of Earthsea, and Arrietty were all direct novel adaptations, while Ponyo was loosely based on Hans Christian Andersen’s The Little Mermaid. From Up On Poppy Hill marks their fifth adaptation in a row. Ghibli was always the go-to source for fantastic, original anime films. Except they haven’t made one in over a decade now.

This may seem like a minor point, but to me it’s not. In the anime industry, film has generally played second fiddle to TV series. The films are almost always adaptations, and I think it hurts them more often than it helps. Films like Fist of the North Star, Dagger of Kamui, and Fate/Stay Night are all hampered by their attempts to tell a story not meant to be a mere two hours long. Ghibli showed that even in the modern-day anime industry, original films could not only be successful, but they could also be at the pinnacle of the industry. There are others now that make original films, like Makoto Shinkai and Mamoru Hosoda, but Ghibli was the best. It just makes me a bit sad to see them leave their roots.

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