Stephen reviews: Eureka Seven: Good Night, Sleep Tight, Young Lovers (2009)

eurekaseven_1Eureka seveN: Good Night, Sleep Tight, Young Lovers
[交響詩篇エウレカセブン ポケットが虹でいっぱい Kōkyō Shihen Eureka Seven: Pocket ga Niji de Ippai] (2009)
AKA Eureka Seven: The Movie; Eureka Seven: Pocket Full of Rainbows; Psalms of Planets Eureka seveN: Good Night, Sleep Tight, Young Lovers

Starring Kaori Nazuka, Yuko Sanpei, Keiji Fujiwara, Ami Koshimizu, Mariko Neya, Mugihito, Sakiko Tamagawa, Shugenori Yamazaki

Directed by Tomoki Kyoda

Several years back, Eureka Seven was all over the place. Or at least I kept seeing it everywhere when I was looking for new anime. I figured it was just some random Evangelion rip-off, and left it at that. But then something odd happened recently. It got a sequel. That’s pretty uncommon for anime. Remakes? Yes. Yet another season of some stretched too thin action series like One Piece? Of course. But an actual sequel of a series that ended several years ago? You don’t bump into those all that often in the anime industry. So I decided to go back and check out the original and see if my apprehension was well founded or not.

I was somewhat right in my Eva rip-off assessment, but it actually reminded me more of Macross with its scattering swarms of projectiles chasing after flying enemies. Particularly Macross Plus, which it seemed very reminiscent of from a stylistic point of view, so it was no surprise to find Shoji Kawamori credited with the mechanical designs. And while it had plenty of Eva’s sinister secret council meetings and the requisite bandaged mystery girl, it also had the stripey sphere full of enemy monsters and a bizarre time displacement subplot that reminded me of Rah Xephon. Basically, Eureka Seven is a hodgepodge of every popular mecha anime they could squeeze together. If I wanted to be cynical I would call it just a massive rip-off of everything, but I think that, at least in this movie version, it added up to something more than the sum of its parts.

Continue reading Stephen reviews: Eureka Seven: Good Night, Sleep Tight, Young Lovers (2009) →

Stephen reviews: Golgo 13: Queen Bee (1998)

golgo13queenbee_1Golgo 13: Queen Bee [ゴルゴ 13: Queen Bee] (1998)

Starring Akio Ohtsuka, Masako Katsuki, Kinryuu Arimoto, Ryusei Nakao, Mugihito

Directed by Osamu Dezaki

I’m trying to think of what I can say that I didn’t already say in my review of the first Golgo 13 anime (which is not the first Golgo film; there were also two live-action films from the ’70s). The two are very similar. This is all the more impressive for the 15-year gap between the two. I could point out a certain science fiction trilogy that had a similar time gap between it and its sequel trilogy, and that one didn’t turn out so good at all, even though it too kept the original director on board. But Osamu Dezaki brings back the stoic assassin as if not a day has gone by.

As such, you’ll probably enjoy, or hate, Queen Bee as much as you did the original. It’s still filled with sex and violence. Golgo is still the silent badass that always gets the job done, and gets a few ladies done along the way. If anything, it feels even more like an ’80s film than The Professional since the second half of Queen Bee sends Golgo to duke it out with a drug cartel in a South American jungle.

Continue reading Stephen reviews: Golgo 13: Queen Bee (1998) →

Stephen reviews: Tekkonkinkreet (2006)

tekkonkinkreet_1Tekkonkinkreet [鉄コン筋クリート] (2006)

Starring Kazunari Ninomiya, Yu Aoi, Yusuke Iseya, Kankuro Kudo, Min Tanaka, Rokuro Naya, Tomomichi Nishimura, Mugihito, Masahiro Motoki

Directed by Michael Arias & Hiroaki Ando

There’s so much going on in this film that I scarcely know where to start. I guess I can start with the director. Michael Arias is obviously not Japanese, and his most notable credits are for producing The Animatrix, and helping design the Back to the Future ride at Universal Studios. As you might expect from having such a seemingly out-of-place director, Tekkonkinkreet is odd. It’s difficult to even classify. At times it feels like an over-the-top action film. At times like a drama. And it always feels like a mindfuck.

Its style is very floaty, and it haphazardly ignores the laws of physics. Half the time the characters are leaping up or down buildings, often nearly flying. The character designs are kooky and not at all what you would expect of an anime. They look flat-out insane. Their contrast with the background art furthers the confusion. The characters are simple and cartoonish, while the backgrounds are detailed, vivid, and absolutely gorgeous. In retrospect, it should have been no surprise to find out that Studio Ghibli had a hand in the background design.

Continue reading Stephen reviews: Tekkonkinkreet (2006) →

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