Category Archives: Anime

Japanese hand-drawn or computer animation. Yeah, we watch and review anime- there is NOTHING wrong with that.

Black Butler: Book of The Atlantic | Film Review [#OTAKU LIFE]

The latest animated rendition of the Black Butler [黒執事; Kuroshitsuji] manga by Yana Toboso grabs the story of the sixth arc, Luxury Liner, and gives us an action-packed film rendition of an already amazing manga series. ‘Kuroshitsuji: Book of the Atlantic’ is brought to us by A-1 Pictures, directed by Noriyuki Abe and written by Hiroyuki Yoshino. The film follows our ever-so-dark yet cute main boy Ciel Phantomhive and his butler Sebastian Michaelis as they embark on a luxury cruise full of nobles to hunt down the source of a rumour revolving around human experimentation.

If you’ve been following the manga, GREAT. If you’ve watched the anime versions (sans the latter part of the second season which is hypothetical) and managed to watch up to the ‘Book of Murder’ movie/2 long episode special, then some characters may seem familiar (one in particular who makes an appearance in the ‘Book of Circus’ series/arc). If not, THEN YOU MUST! I won’t spoil any of this film, apart from the plot which I’ve mentioned and I guess you don’t necessarily HAVE to watch the preceding seasons/films because, like most anime, when a character appears, the main character, usually in a shocked state, reveals their whole name. That being said, a lot of the story would make MORE sense if you watched the series or read the manga before this arc (The film covers volumes 12, 13 and 14 of the manga if that’s useful information) and characters you once knew from the stuff before this film might help to add shock value to some of the revelations in this film.

The film retains the Black Butler series’ dark and sombre aura, with that hint of comedy, flying cutlery ass-kickery and the characterization ranging from the composed cool main cast to the over-flamboyant and narcissistic characters that our main men Ciel and Sebastian seem to always ‘coincidentally’ run into. The art and character design is the same between the manga and seasons before this film, music is grand and dramatic and the story is plot-twist GALORE.

As a long-time fan of the series, I highly recommend the film – the reasons why though, I can’t give because spoilers level: MAX. SO WATCH IT PLEASE! If you’re looking for a ‘if the Titanic was the meeting ground for a secret society of nobles and the passengers included a revengeful earl and his demon butler’ kind of story (and it’s not even a joke at the fact that it’s a luxury liner, THE SHIP LITERALLY FACES (almost) THE SAME DEMISE)  then give the film a try. Like I said before, even if you’ve read the manga, seen the animations before this one or haven’t seen it at all, give it a try because “You see, its one hell of a movie.”

Take a look at screenings here in New Zealand for the film which premiered yesterday at EVENTS Cinema and goes on until next Wednesday (21st of June) and you can also catch it today at 4:30pm and at 12pm noon on Saturday and Sunday at Academy Cinemas.

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‘A Silent Voice’ Film Review | Bullying is NEVER OK!

Directed by Naoko Yamada, ‘A Silent Voice’ (Japanese: 聲の形 ‘Koe no Katachi’; lit. ‘The Shape of Voice’) is a coming-of-age story about second chances, social stigma and overall, a heart drenching tale of reconstruction and redemption.

A film adaption of Yoshitoki Oima’s manga series of the same name, the story’s protangonist is Shoya Ishida and follows his life as a high schooler on the brink of suicide. He becomes ostracized from his peers and everyone around him after he takes bullying Shoko Nishimiya, a deaf female student, too far in elementary school and rather than admit his mistakes, pushes blame amongst his friends. In doing so, he destroys his social connections and ends up with no friends.

From start to finish, the film provides a realistic view to the plot; no fantasy, no sugar-coating. Shoya’s struggles are all painted out and placed in plain sight. The film does rewind time to when Shoya was in Elementary school to provide context, and does it effectively without dragging on too long and away from the present-day of the film.

The art is colourful, beautiful and intricately detailed and this shows especially in the variety of locations and characters shown in the film. In terms of music, the film provides instrumental BGM to accompany appropriate scenes, but other than that, nothing really stood out in terms of music, which could be a good thing, as to not draw from the story and the focus wouldn’t drift away listening to the music. Although the theme song for the movie “Koi wo Shita no wa” by J-Pop artist aiko (which plays in the credits) is an acoustic song that really suits the mood of the film, sombre yet light and fleeting.

Anyone who is familiar with Japanese Anime or Manga will know the typical cliches; wide variety of eccentric characters, self-narrated inner thoughts, comedic flair and emotion you can’t seem to capture enough in real life. That being said, the plot, the characters and the aforementioned emotions are all put on display in a way that is realistic and engaging, making it easier for people to enjoy, relate to and overall, genuinely feel the emotions surrounding the characters.

For that very reason this film is defintely a must-see! I loved it, and there was points in the film where I wanted to scream, cry and at one point I held my breath and almost turned purple (but I ain’t spoiling that moment so you can all experience that suffering too😅)

Whether you’re accustomed to Japanese Anime, be it series or movie, or not, this film has a plethora of relativity for almost anyone, and with illustrious aesthetics and an even more beautiful story, it would be an absolute crime to pass off. (So says me, the Anime Police!😂)

AND WITH THAT BEING SAID, HERE IS THE TRAILER AND SOME HONOURABLE MENTIONS~ [and a well placed SPOILER ALERT right here]


Honourable Mentions

  • The film never properly shows her but Shoya has a sister who has a daughter with a man of African descent (I assume) who all live in a small flat above his mother’s hair salon. Which makes a total of 5 people living together in the small flat and adds to the diverse collection of characters in the film😄
  • One of Shoya’s friends after a significant event (that would be waaaaay too much of spoiler) says to Shoko “You have to love yourself, even the bad parts” – I thought that was nicely placed in the film.
  • This wouldn’t be obvious to western viewers, but the characters are often feeding Koi fish (Carps), a significant kind of fish in Japan. Koi fish in Japan are a symbollic icon of overcoming adversity, so the fact the characters are always seen jumping into the river and feeding Koi fish is a symbolism of the main characters overcoming their short-comings and working on reconstructing their lives. Koi fish also can signify love *wink wink* They’re also spiritually significant, think Pudge the fish in Lilo and Stich.
  • There is a scene where Shoya and his friend visit a place called “Meow Meow Club” and unfortunately for them it wasn’t the kind of “meWOW” they were hoping for – it was a literal Cat Cafe, which is common in Japan and self explainatory – a cafe where you sit and play with cats😅

Your Name Review | visually stunning, emotionally stimulating

Makoto Shinkai’s (5 Centimeters Per Second, 2007, and The Garden of Words, 2013) latest offering, Your Name, is a stunning piece of animated film.  It takes you on a whimsical YA body-swap adventure that somehow manages to be grounded in reality in spite of the sheer imagination required for such a storyline. Despite pulling on your heartstrings, Your Name doesn’t exactly break it and leaves you satisfied but still wanting more.

Mitsuha and Taki are two total strangers living completely different lives.

But when Mitsuha makes a wish to leave her mountain town for the bustling city of Tokyo, they become connected in a bizarre way- somehow connected to the meteor shower we see at the very beginning of the film.

Mitsuha finds herself in dreams of being a boy living in Tokyo while Taki dreams he is a girl from a rural town he’s never been to.

What does their newfound connection mean? And how will it bring them together?

In its exploration of the line between the beginning and the end, from minute things to the heavier questions of life, the film juxtaposes new and old, the urban sprawl and rural life alongside their male and female counterparts while allowing the audience both healthy doses of laughter and poignant moments of heartache.

It’s almost like being a daydream yourself, however everyone is speaking Japanese and of course it’s animated, not live-action.

The J-Pop soundtrack is lit, drawing you into the film straight away and complimenting the visual brilliance of the landscapes and forces of nature quite brilliantly.

Check it out when you can, it’s great to see on a huge screen I tell ya. Find out where, in NZ, and go see it! The film opens for a limited screening run on Dec 1st.

I’ve heard people compare Shinkai to Hayao Miyazaki, calling him Miyazaki’s heir apparent, but I can’t say the comparison is fair. Shinkai’s work is its own beast, and Your Name has a quality to it that isn’t Miyazaki but that’s a good thing in that we should be allowed quality work that isn’t cut from the same stone, or that follows a similar kind of format.

You’ll be thinking about the film’s plot and trajectory long after the vividness of the the painted cityscapes have faded from the screens, they become etched in your mind along with thoughts of ‘what next’ after that final scene.

Watch the trailer below, beyond the trailer are our honourable mentions RIFE with spoilers so continue at your own risk!

Honourable Mentions:

  • Just one because I’ve talked enough: Taki, you had ONE job just before twilight hit and Mitsuha disappeared. Write your name on her palm but instead he writes “I love you” and as cries and smiles before saying, “Idiot…I can’t remember your name with this…” I’m sitting in the theatre trying not to yell out TAKI YOU HAD ONE JOB. ONE JOB!
  • Huh and who’s have thought it was also a time travelling tale on TOP of the the body-swap?
  • Every time they’d wake up in each other’s bodies and Taki kept getting snapped fondling Mitsuha’s boobs was always a crack up- each time you think… nah he won’t this time, zoink the door opens he’s like: mdvdrif

The Boy and the Beast | Review

The Boy and the Beast Studio Chizo’s latest, by filmmaker Mamoru Hosoda (Summer WarsWolf ChildrenThe Girl Who Leapt Through Time), is a visually stunning hand-drawn animation, that is equal parts action-packed coming-of-age buddy film and semi-realistic but spectacularly fantastical epic.

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Released in Japan last year, and killing it domestically at Japan’s box office, it’ll finally be released to New Zealand theatres on March 3rd 2016- with both subbed and dubbed versions available.

The Boy and the Beast is set between both current day Tokyo and a parallel world – called Jutengai – that resembles feudal-era Japan populated by humanoid beasts. And follows a nine-year-old boy named Ren, who runs away from home and accidentally finds himself in Jutengai, where he becomes the apprentice of a prickly bear-man-beast named Kumatetsu- who renames Ren ‘Kyuta’ according to his age.

We see the progression of their relationship, and Ren’s time in Jutengai, through a montage of hilarious moments where the two clash constantly. These moments become poignant as you see their relationship move from antagonistic apprentice and irritable teacher who don’t mesh well at all, to antagonistic teenaged apprentice and irritable teacher who still don’t seem to mesh well but work nonetheless.

The film is visually stunning, however what makes it worthwhile are the characters. They fill the worlds up nicely and the development of the ‘master and apprentice’ relationship is not one-dimensional, there are layers to the friendships and bonds which the film allows the audience to discern for themselves. 

Granted there are moments where cliched life-lessons are thrown at you left, right and centre, however when you look beyond the usual ‘fight bad with good’ and ‘you can do it’ cliches there are heavy issues addressed tastefully. Notions of depression and abandonment, as well as the effects these can have on a person, and how different people deal with these issues are juxtaposed against a fantastical world where humans are more or less banned because of these issues and their effects- which residents of Jutengai refer to as ‘the darkness’.

Action and battle scenes are just as epic as the lighthearted bickering scenes are hilarious, and poignant moments are both heart wrenching and heartwarming.

The film is equal parts hilarious, heartwarming and well executed.

Hosoda’s not one to tie everything up nicely, however. There are a few twists you may or may not figure out before they’re revealed, and just like in real life not everything is prettily resolved and easily sorted.

If you like a good epic, with funny bits and well-developed characters give The Boy and the Beast a shot.

You can catch The Boy and the Beast in NZ cinemas from March 3rd onwards at any of the locations below:

Academy Cinema Auckland

Event Cinemas Albany

Event Cinemas Manukau

Event Cinemas Queen St

Event Embassy Theatres

Hoyts Cinemas Wairau Park

Hoyts Metro

Hoyts Riccarton

Hoyts Sylvia Park

Tokyo Ghoul Season 1 Collection Uncut – Review

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Just finished binge watching Tokyo Ghoul season 1 collection uncut, 300 minutes of blood, gore, a number of story lines- most of which are kind of hit and miss- and a tiny smidgen of character development, woohoo!

Remember when I reviewed the first episode after it premiered on Anime Lab and said I would review each ep as it came out? Yeah I lied, but only because I got extremely busy and couldn’t watch weekly. I’m so sorry.

But the kind folk at MadMan sent us the season 1 collection, which was released in December of last year, for our viewing pleasure.

Serves me right to be left on such a cliffhanger after finally getting around to and binge-watching the 12 episodes. Word of caution, it ends in the middle of the huge showdown, just as something major occurs.

(However season 2 is out and you can catch the episodes on Anime Lab.)

But let’s talk about that first season, which may have been more about that blood and gore and less about a coherent storyline and character development. This doesn’t necessarily mean I didn’t enjoy watching it.

Because although it took 12 episodes for Kaneki to become a badass, and they introduced a tonne of characters in the last 3 episodes that you had to keep up with in a short amount of time, and some characters didn’t fully get developed in that time, the first season made me want to keep watching.

Whether this was because of the cliffhanger or whether it’s from genuinely being into the anime, I’m not sure.

But I say give it a go, I started reading the manga and while they kept a few things the same the anime is its own beast as it diverges from the source material heavily.

And yep, season 3 has also been confirmed.

Stray thoughts contain spoilers so read ahead at your own risk:

  • Ken gets a hundred times more attractive once he accepts the fact that he’s a ghoul and metaphorically eats dead Rise who’s inside him- yeah I know how that sounds.
  • Touka’s still my favourite, even if she’s currently getting her ass kicked by her younger brother.
  • Best lesson to learn, if you try to be kind to everyone- you might die.

The Collected Works of Hayao Miyazaki Are Epic

Miyazaki Set

Hayao Miyazaki, one of the founders of Studio Ghibli, one of the most famous directors in his field and a renowned artist has a box set of 11 of his feature films. At age 73, Hayao Miyazaki retired after stating that 50 years is a long time in his industry. So his films like Lupin III: The Castle of Cagliostro released in 1979 to The Wind Rises, his latest to date in 2013 can be found in his collection, which can be purchased here.

As expected of Hayao Miyazaki, one of the most admired animators ever, all his films were great with strong female characters that develop throughout the film which contrasts in comparison to other animated females who too often portrayed as weak, and one-dimensional with no character development.

And the absence of the typical “bad vs good” plot in his animations is replaced with ones that show characters surviving among the “bad” as realistically, the “bad” is not something that can be so easily gotten rid of.

The animations themselves were well done with it’s characters moving with human-like movements, and drawn either by hand with the use of water colours with little computer graphics used.

The environment in his films are always so detailed and they’re so beautiful, especially the sky. The sky in Hayao Miyazaki’s films are absolutely amazing.

And of course I’m being completely biased when I say that Spirited Away was my favourite film as it was the first animated film I ever remember watching. It made me want to be just like Chihiro, a strong and kind girl. I was in love with the colours and I never really understood a lot of the characters until now. The themes are so well thought out and carefully shown throughout the film. Hayao Miyazaki’s films always leave a strong impression and he more you think about the meanings of his films, the deeper they seem.

The Collected Works of Hayao Miyazaki is a box set that I’m super happy that we have and I’ve grown so attached to the characters with well thought out storylines. I highly recommend it and they’re never boring.

 

Attack On Titan Live-Action Coming To NZ Cinemas

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Holy Wall Sina, Madman Entertainment have announced that the ATTACK ON TITAN live-action movie will screen in New Zealand theatres this year.

Director, Shinji Higuchi, confirmed that there will be two films and that with the supervision of Hajime Isayama, the story will be based on the world and characters of the manga, while incorporating new characters and new formidable enemies.

Check out the subbed trailer below:

What do you think?

Read the film’s synopsis:

100 years ago, titans suddenly appeared on Earth. Soon, human civilization veered on collapse due to the titans. Humans then built a giant wall to defend themselves. Within the giant walls, humans lived in peace, but, 100 years later, the giant wall is broken.