Blog Archives

All-Round Appraiser Q: The Eyes of Mona Lisa (2014)

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One of the joys of the Japanese Film Festival every year for me is discovering the unexpected gem. Film festivals are of course great for those films that you’ve heard about and been dying to see that will likely never make it to your local cinema, but I always make a point of picking a few random films as well — films that I’ve heard nothing about; often films that I don’t even bother to read the synopsis for. Without … (read more)

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Kiki’s Delivery Service (2014)

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We’ve probably had this conversation before — the pros and cons of the Live Action Film. When they’re done well, they enhance the source and become another aspect of effective cross-stream marketing that people are happy to pay to see. They win new fans and invigorate the existing ones. But let’s not kid ourselves thinking that any company sinks millions of dollars (or yen in this case) into a film better known in anime or manga out of their sense … (read more)

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The Tale of Princess Kaguya (2013)

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The Tale of Princess Kaguya is a vision. It might not seem a conventional vision but don’t doubt that’s what it is. Director Isao Takahata, the other genius behind Studio Ghibli, responsible for the delightful My Neighbours the Yamadas (1999) and the gutting Grave of the Fireflies (1988), has done something that perhaps no other major animation director has achieved in recent memory — a complete reinvention of the technique of animation.

If you’ve already seen the documentary Madman have … (read more)

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Lady Maiko (2014)

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Unless you’re also into the many, varied, and sometimes odd-to-outsiders forms of all singing, all dancing, live on stage entertainment that have in recent years been spinning off from anime and manga franchises, you might find yourself surprised to realise that Japan doesn’t mind the odd Western style musical or two.

Musical theatre is not terribly rare in Japan of course — kabuki has been around since at least the early 1600’s, and the famous all-female Takarazuka Theatre troupe has … (read more)

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The Tale of Studio Ghibli

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Perhaps you’ve never thought about what you’re watching in those two hours in the cinema when Studio Ghibli, arguably the most renowned Japanese animation studio on the planet, is working its narrative and visual magic on you. After all, it’s easy to be caught up in a Ghibli film, transported. It’s what they do, what they’ve always done, and it’s easy to forget the hundreds of people and the thousands (and thousands) of work hours that go into making a … (read more)

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Patema Inverted (2013)

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Maybe I’m a bit of a romantic, but the story of Romeo and Juliet, those most famous of star-crossed lovers, is a story that never seems to get old. There’s something fundamentally appealing about two people that want to be together but can’t, and Patema Inverted is, in a very literal sense, Romeo and Juliet for the far flung future. It’s not the Montagues and the Capulets keeping the would-be lovers Patema and Age apart however, but gravity.

Patema lives … (read more)

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Fairy Tail the Movie – Phoenix Princess (2012)

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Fairy Tail Phoenix Princess DVD cover

For once I’m watching a series-based movie with absolutely no knowledge of the series, and in this case I can’t help but think I perhaps haven’t found the best entry. Fairy Tail Phoenix Priestess gives the impression that its strengths lie in the direction of the series, where you have time to develop some level of interest in and attachment to the characters. In feature length format, there’s just a few too many of them to really get involved in … (read more)

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The Kirishima Thing (2012)

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Kirishima Thing Poster

It’s funny what kind of impression you get from movie posters, and I guess in that light, movie poster design isn’t anywhere near an easy thing. Take for instance the poster for Daihachi Yoshida’s The Kirishima Thing. Looking at the dominating image of the bespectacled student with the 8mm camera, you would think it’s a movie about one person, probably a school student, who makes movies. You’d only be partially right. Kirishima Thing doesn’t have nearly that level of … (read more)

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