Archive for all posts in 2010


Osorezan (Geinoh Yamashirogumi)

“A screaming comes across the sky,” begins Thomas Pynchon’s Gravity’s Rainbow—a description which could well apply to the female primal scream that opens Geinoh Yamashirogumi’s 1979 debut album. Given that the side-long title track translates to “Mt. Fear”—a volcanic mountain...

Electronic Sonata for Souls Loved by Nature (George Russell)

It was only through George Russell’s obituary that I ever learned about him in the first place. He was not as household a name as Duke or Miles or ‘Trane, but he mattered in a way that is only now...

Moju: The Blind Beast (Edogawa Rampo)

I could provide any number of examples of Japanese popular literature whose only real exposure to English-speaking audiences came through adaptations into film. Many of Edogawa Rampo’s mystery / crime / thriller / horror stories fit that category nicely, Blind...

The Edogawa Rampo Reader (Edogawa Rampo)

My theory goes something like this. The more popular an author is in a given country, the greater the odds they will be that much more difficult to bring to audiences in other languages—because their popularity in their original locale...

The Roof Tile of Tempyō (Yasushi Inoue)

The label historical novelist usually brings to mind someone like Robert Graves, whose I, Claudius has become something of a staple reference point for such work. It’s no coincidence Graves is namechecked in the introduction to The Roof Tile of...

Shipwrecks (Akira Yoshimura)

The seaside landscape of ancient rural Japan depicted in Shipwrecks makes the moors of Wuthering Heights seem downright inviting. What little beach exists is surrounded by rocky shoals, and the villagers unfortunate enough to live there eke out an existence...

Ninja Justice (Shotaro Ikenami)

A while back I wrote about Baian the Assassin, one of any number of samurai-era TV shows that Japan created for itself rather than an international audience. Times have changed, and what Japan once considered insular and wholly theirs has...

Death Note: Another Note: The Los Angeles BB Murder Cases (Nisioisin)

Nisioisin has a palindromic name, and a mind that also seems to double back on itself in one knotty convolution after another. He writes novels that have elements of mysteries, thrillers, surreal comedies and what Japanese sometimes call “erotic grotesque...

Sea of Simulation Dept.

Last night I saw Tron Legacy in IMAX and was pleasantly surprised. Most everyone else has already commented on the look of the film (dazzling, if gloomy -- is our own world gonna look this bleak soon?) and the Daft...

December Dept.

The end of the year has been far, far busier than I ever dreamed, which means a lot less time to look at or talk about anything in detail. Much of that has been due to my regular, paying job(s),...

Loaned Out Dept.

As part of my general budget-cutting measures, I've taken a good hard look at my book-buying habits -- especially from online venues -- and decided I needed to make more use of my local library system. I was pretty surprised...

Peepo Choo Vol. 3 (Felipe Smith)

First, a statement: The last volume of Peepo Choo is a satisfying ribbon for the gift that this whole series has been, a way to tie everything together and give everyone more or less what they deserve. Second, a promise:...

Dropping Ashes on the Buddha: The Teaching of Zen Master Seung Sahn (Compiled and edited by Stephen Mitchell)

By all accounts Zen Master Seung Sahn was a funny guy, and that squares with my understanding of the way Buddhism and Zen specifically act as a liberating force on the personality. Dropping Ashes on the Buddha, likewise, is a...

Confucius

There are a few actors I will watch in literally anything. Chow Yun-Fat remains one of them, and I have sat through some of the most amazing junk just because he was in it and could make anything seem plausible—or...

The Last Princess (The Hidden Fortress (2009))

The first half of The Last Princess gave me hope—not much hope, but hope all the same—that this remake of The Hidden Fortress, one of Akira Kurosawa’s better films, would not be the crashing bore that was Tsubaki Sanjuro or...

Ayako (Osamu Tezuka)

I once read that there were two François Truffauts—one being a filmmaker of life, light and laughter (Day for Night, Love on the Run, etc.) and the other a director fascinated with death and stark emotional horror (The Bride Wore...

The Pornographers (Akiyuki Nosaka)

I do have a cause, though. It is obscenity. I'm for it. —Tom Lehrer Those might well be the same words that Subuyan of The Pornographers might have printed on his business card. He’s an entrepreneur dealing in contraband: not...

Centurion

I liked Neil Marshall’s previous film Doomsday for its sheer unapologetic audacity. Centurion is essentially the same movie stuck in a single timezone (the Roman Empire vs. the Picts), minus the audacity and with no Frankie Goes To Hollywood music...

Commencing Countdown Dept.

After a few delays, I finally have a start date for when my version of anime.about.com goes live: this coming Thursday, Nov. 11. So what does this mean for this site and all the other things I've been doing here? ...

Ryunosuke Akutagawa: The Beautiful and the Grotesque

The Timeless and the Dated 1. There’s little more frustrating than truly great writing in a middling package. Ryunosuke Akutagawa: The Beautiful and the Grotesque was originally published in 1960 under the unfortunate name Exotic Japanese Stories, and the approach...

Bump in the Night Dept.

[Yes, it's been a while, hasn't it? Apologies - things became quite busy. But I live.] I don't normally do holiday-themed posts -- so many other people do a far better job of it, it seems -- but this time...

Touching the Earth Once More Dept.

Back from New York Anime Comic Con Fest Mashup Thing Event. Impressions: They might have been better off just formally abandoning any "Anime Fest" description and just slotted in anime-themed programming generally. The end result here was that the anime...

Flatland Dept.

Tom Shales, Washington Post TV columnist, hits on the reason why TV seems to have bottomed, or rather flattened out: ... the very concepts of "good" and "bad" in the arts and communications are now deemed obsolete. Movies and TV...

I Have The Right To Destroy Myself (Young-Ha Kim)

There is little enough modern literature from South Korea in translation that any new book at all is worth paying attention to. I am not sure how much Young-Ha Kim’s I Have The Right to Destroy Myself reflects what’s going...

Sakuran

I know I’m not alone in saying Memoirs of a Geisha annoyed the living daylights out of me. It was humorless, overwritten, fly-blown Hollywood schmaltz—half tinselly soap opera and half bogus exoticism, right down to the oh-so-sad shakuhachi flutes on...

Hustle & Bustle Dept.

Since I'm in the middle of all the prepwork I've been doing for anime.about.com as well as juggling my regular work, there's been that much less time to post about ... well, anything at all. So, some quick rundown. I...

Shutter Island

It’s a cliché of movie criticism to say that a given film needs to be seen more than once. Yes, Shutter Island deserves multiple viewings, but not because the final stretch reveals that everything you think you know is wrong....

7 Billion Needles, Vol. #1 (Nobuaki Tadano)

7 Billion Needles may be the most mainstream manga Vertical, Inc. has licensed for their lineup thus far. Mainstream and Vertical do not quite belong in the same sentence: these are the folks who gave us some of the best...

Big Wheel Keeps On Turnin' Dept.

So now I can finally answer the question: What in the name of $DEITY is this Really Cool Thing I Haven't Been Able To Talk About For So Long? ::ahem:: As of a few minutes ago, I was officially hired...

Peepo Choo Vol. 2 (Felipe Smith)

By the end of the first volume of Peepo Choo I had, I thought, a solid idea of what Felipe Smith was up to. He was satirizing, in the bluntest and most caustic way, the ways some Americans (and some...

Suicide Manual

Is it wrong of me to want a movie like Suicide Manual to be more interesting, compelling, or (god help us) controversial than it actually is? It’s the sort of film where the story behind the film is more interesting...

After AnimeFest Dept.

The short version: a very good time was had by all. Sales were a little lighter than what I expected, but I also donated copies of my books to the Mu Epsilon Kappa Society for one of their events. Ditto...

Yatterman

I’m used to Takashi Miike working on multiple levels by now. He did this before with Great Yokai War, which was a kiddy movie in the guise of a satire of same … or maybe the other way around, depending...

Pleasures of the Flesh

During the Sixties there surfaced in Japan a whole slew of films which expressed dismay for how that country’s newly-won material prosperity came at the expense of a great many other things the Japanese barely seemed aware they were losing....

Fork In The Road Dept.

If I have to choose... No, I don't like a false dichotomy any more than the rest of you. But if I have to choose, I'll choose. Specifically, if I have to choose between a technically-meticulous piece of work without...

Space Is The Place

The difference between an “eccentric” and a poseur is, I think, a matter of empathy. An eccentric inspires fondness and even a little reverence, in part because the true eccentric isn’t putting on airs. He really is what he is....

MW

When I heard work had started on live-action film version of Osamu Tezuka’s MW—easily the bleakest, most nihilistic work ever produced by a man not conventionally known for his dark side—I was skeptical. How were they going to do justice...

Barking Dogs Never Bite

Before Bong Joon-Ho came to the attention of Western audiences with Memories of Murder, The Host and most recently Mother, he had made Barking Dogs Never Bite—although for years the only way you could see it was through the Korean...

Empathy Machine Repair Dept.

More excerpts from the Kurtz interview (see yesterday's post): No one’s been able to read the audience, ever, so you have to kind of rely on your own instincts. In the case of Star Wars, George and I had dinner...

Blows Against The Empire Dept.

If the name "Gary Kurtz" doesn't ring any bells off the top of your head, it ought to. He was George Lucas's producer for American Graffiti and Star Wars; he got The Dark Crystal into production; and in this remarkable...

Satoshi Kon: On the Death of "the Illusionist"

It's hard not to react skeptically to word of the death of a man whose work you love and respect. When word began circulating that Satoshi Kon's death had been reported on Twitter by a colleague, there was shock and...

Backalog Dept.

Hey, Mom! Look what I found in the basement! Chaos (Kaosu) [2002/08/08] Cat Soup [2005/06/06] Burst City [2006/06/06] Bullet Ballet [2003/03/03] The Brotherhood of the Wolf [2002/10/10] Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia [2004/12/12] Breaking News [2006/02/02] Russian Ark...

Old (And Busted) School Dept.

Within seconds of closing the covers on The Count of Monte Cristo I was already ruminating on how a book that widely imitated must have inspired at least a few people to revisit not just the plot but the very...

Post-It Dept.

Some more older movie reviews, from the back catalog, are online again: Blues Harp [2005/03/03] Blue Spring [2004/06/06] Battlefield Baseball [2005/09/04] Battle Royale II: Requiem [2004/05/04] Battle Royale [2004/04/04] Better Luck Tomorrow [2004/08/03] Birdy the Mighty [2006/05/05] Immortal (ad vitam)...

Besos de Gato (Cat Kisses)

Here’s a movie that turned out to be about four times better than I expected. Besos de gato, or Cat Kisses as it’s been Anglicized, has the plot of one of those dreadful TV movies about an estranged father and...

Cult Deprogramming Dept.

I owe a lot of my interests in offbeat movies to two people. One, obviously, is Roger Ebert; the other is Danny Peary. The latter's Cult Movies books (which could really use a three-in-one reprint) talked lovingly but also sensibly...

Found In Translation Dept.

Between working on The Underground Sun's 2nd draft, working (for actual money), and waiting for a whole Imelda Marcos's closet full of shoes to drop -- which really can't happen fast enough, let me tell you -- I have been...

Papriktion Dept.

After having seen Inception, I'm now qualified to at least comment on the idea that Paprika (my review) was a better treatment of the same idea, or at least a more fanciful one. This is a little like saying an...

Max Headroom

[Note: I originally wanted to publish this review with screenshots, but I decided to file it as-is, let people read it for flavor, and then add the images later when time permitted.] Of all the TV shows I adored as...

A Poke In The Eye Dept.

And with everything else that was going on, I forgot to post a couple of choice snaps from the show....

Rebooted Dept.

Between everything else that's been going on (the catalog runs to several single-spaced pages; I won't reprint all thathere), I somehow -- somehow -- managed to kick off the all-new, revised version of The Underground Sun. Call it Underground Sun...

Get Backers Dept.

Or, I Survived Otakon And I Got A Lot More Than A Lousy T-Shirt. Every show's a fun show if you bring the right things to it. I brought myself, my friend Dan, a sense of humor, bottled water, meal...

Ketchup and Mustard Dept.

Time for me to play catch-up once again, I think. The Really Cool Thing I Can't Talk About Just Yet took another incremental step forward at the end of the week. I suspect I'll have some kind of answer about...

Klanggalerie Dept.

On the face of the evidence, Karlheinz Stockhausen's Mantra is that composer's most widely-recorded and -performed piece. There's the Bevan/Mikashoff recording which I reviewed; the Kontarsky version issued through Deutsche Grammophon / Stockhausen Verlag; the Corver/Grotenhuis version (Stockhausen's alleged favorite,...

Mother

It took Mother to wipe the taste of the abominable Tsubaki Sanjuro out of my mouth—which it did, and then some. Every year for over a decade now there’s been at least one wallopingly good Korean movie. This one ranks...

Tsubaki Sanjuro (2008)

I am not, in principle, against remakes. I am against them when they add nothing to a movie that was perfectly good all by itself. The problem is that the economics of moviemaking no longer favor storytelling, let alone individual...

A Drunken Dream and Other Stories (Moto Hagio)

My most common lament about anime, manga and Japanese popular culture generally has been the language barrier. I’ve tried to learn Japanese but I was only able to make so much headway, and with my spare time at an even...

Peepo Choo Vol. 1 (Felipe Smith)

Let me start on as unambiguous a note as possible. Felipe Smith’s Peepo Choo is the manga title of the summer, possibly the manga title for the whole of 2010. It doesn’t just break new ground for manga, it paves...

Disappearing Act Dept.

First rumor dispelled: I haven't died. I have, however, been dealing with some rather crazy personal-life stuff, the details of which I won't go into here. (Those of you who know me slightly better than casually, you know what I'm...

Dead Line Dept.

Last night I came to one of those conclusions I never like to come to, but which are like a gate which walls off progress: if you don't go through the gate, you never get to the next level. It...

Nerdcore Rising Dept.

It's not often I read something that has me screaming and thrashing around in annoyance and disgust, but Rudy Rucker's "Psipunk" thing did it for me. Go read it and then come back here. Okay, we're back. Ugh. Let's leave...

Failth of July Dept.

Again, I haven't been posting much lately because of the Really Awesome Possibility thing that I can't yet talk about. Soon, I promise. The big fandom-related news of the weekend was of course the ghastliness of The Last M. Night...

Bent Dept.

Ebert's review of The Last Airbender (they hastily dropped the "Avatar" from the title after you-know-what) strikes blows for good animated features and against the misuse of 3D. Other people have documented in great detail how M. Night botched the...

Et. Al. Dept.

I still can't talk publicly about the Potentially Great Thing that may or may not be happening -- both because I'm not sure I can, and because I'm kinda anxious about jinxing a good thing. All I'll say s that...

Kantoku Banzai (Glory to the Filmmaker)

Takeshi Kitano’s Takeshis’ was Kitano On Kitano, an attempt to turn a mirror on himself, and it works. Kantoku Banzai is Kitano On Kitano Yet Again, where he not only deconstructs his own career as a director but Japanese cinema...

Between Tides Dept.

(Title is a Controlled Bleeding reference.) I just grabbed the new Windows Live Writer beta, released literally only minutes ago. So far it's pretty good -- it uses the new Office 2007+ ribbon interface, something that's been trickling into the...

Bragging Rights Dept.

I'm nearing the home stretch on my most recent book, The Underground Sun. If it's news to you that I was even working on a new book, I'm not surprised. See, I don't tend to talk a lot about what...

Bookish Dept.

First, a note about my revised convention schedule: Otakon (end of July) AnimeFest (beginning of September) NYAF (October) MangaNext (end of October) MangaNext is of course the sister convention to AnimeNext, and the more I hear about it the more...

J-Paper Dept.

Attempts in Japan to overturn the dominance of newspapers via digital media have largely stiffed: Ink Gushes in Japan’s Media Landscape (New York Times)The article talks about how online journalism in Japan hasn't yet done much to displace conventional printed...

Homerun Dept.

AnimeNext 2010 was a great success. I sold out all but two copies of the books in stock, met some great new friends, saw some also-great existing ones (you know who you are!) ... all around, a terrific show. Even...

On The Myth Of The Paperless Office (And Bookshelf, And Spinner Rack)

On my shelf of Good Stuff, within reaching distance of me as I type this, are two small manga anthologies by Yoshiharu Tsuge -- he of the famously-weird Neji-shiki, among other things. I bought them for $3.50 each from the...

Christmas Comes But Once A Year Dept.

I mentioned earlier that Criterion has a BD of Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence in the works. Here's the skinny from The Digital Bits: Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence will include a new and restored high-definition master, The Oshima Gang (an original...

Twin Spica Vol. 2 (Kou Yaginuma)

Two things come to me on reading the second volume of Twin Spica. One, this is a gem of a series that deserves the broadest possible audience. Waste no time picking it up if a) you want to read a...

Paradigm Shift Dept.

I've spent the last few days running a fever and coughing my eyes out, so I haven't had much of a chance to post anything. Now that the cough has leveled out a bit and I'm no longer feeling like...

Back Stabbers Redux Dept.

Here's an exercise for the reader. Take the word "horror" in the linked article and swap it for the word "anime" or "manga. nick_kaufmann: The Cult of Not Mattering: How Horror Fandom Is Its Own Worst EnemyHorror has its share...

Moving Pictures Dept.

On a whim: five manga, from my previous reviews and my own personal-faves shelf, that I think would make good candidates for animated productions.Kurohime. The first few volumes of this were rough going for me, and I confess I didn't...

The Big Takedown Dept.

I tweeted about this earlier, but since both Twitter and Tweetdeck are being unreliable pieces of junk (trying to access the MT online editor in Chrome isn't much better; the rich-text editor doesn't even come up when I select it...

Freesia

So, picture this. Sometime in Japan’s future, while some great war continues raging somewhere, a law has been passed that allows the victims of violent crime to legally retaliate against those who have wronged them. The whole process is strictly...

Fan Disservice Dept.

Belinda (S1E1) posted her own mixed feelings about Queen's Blade, to which I replied, "It's the best-written bad show I've yet seen." That really does encapsulate so much of what's wrong with it: the storytelling (which is not bad at...

Queen's Blade

Queen’s Blade’s is an adventure story with the plot of a fighting game, the heart of an X-rated dating sim, and no brain to split between them. It comes straight out of the same chainmail-bikini school of post-feminist storytelling that...

Just Watch What You Say Dept.

Orac has a problem with the concept of freedom of speech getting historical exceptions, as do I: Elie Wiesel: Carve out an exception to free speech for Holocaust denial : Respectful InsolenceI find myself far more in agreement with Salman...

Dumb Phone Dept.

Well, that was short-lived. After barely three weeks of use, my brand-new Motorola Cliq XT Android phone decided to turn into a desk paperweight. A service call to T-Mobile ended with "Let's cross-ship you a new phone", so I can't...

Yakuza: Like A Dragon

You know within the first few seconds of Yakuza: Like a Dragon that you’re watching a Takashi Miike movie. That is, if you’ve seen his movies before, you’ll recognize all his amusing little hallmarks here: the dazzling, fast-moving cinematography, the...

News You Can Use Dept.

Bits and pieces from this week's AICN Anime, including a couple of shout-outs to yours truly (thank you, Mr. Green). Somerset, New Jersey's AnimeNext will host Kenji Kamiyama, director of Ghost in the Shell Stand Alone Complex and the to...

Creator Knows Best Dept.

Remember when I said I'd discuss the "Creator Doesn't Always Know Best" issue in another essay? This is that essay. And I'll start with the most blatant and obvious example that could ever be coined. George Lucas. (Put gold stars...

The Pipeline Wins Again Dept.

An interview with producer Richard Zanuck, mostly about Jaws and Alice in Wonderland, sported this incredibly telling phrase: We had a date long before we started, a release date. The picture was actually booked in thousands of theaters long before...

Afterschool Charisma Vol. 1

I’m going to start this review with a position I fully expect others to find irritating at best and indefensible at worst. I hated Axis Powers Hetalia so much that for a long time I didn’t dare tell anyone how...

The Fanboys Are Back In Town Dept.

Okay. This could get bristly. A while back I started learning the C# programming language -- (okay, okay, don't freak out, this is going somewhere) -- for the sake of rewriting a major website project which had been languishing in...

The Door Is Still Open Dept.

Dave Winer makes a point about Apple and their ecosystem that is precise enough to inspire jealousy in the rest of us who have been seeking to make the same point. ... computers are meant to be more than DisneyLand,...

Mailbag Dept.

Review material, sent my way or purchased, for which detailed reviews will probably appear before long. Here's my quick-and-dirty rundown of what's currently in the bag ... Audition, Ryu Murakami -- yes, this is the novel that was adapted into...

Finite Dept.

An interview with David Foster Wallace during his book tour for Infinite Jest that was commissioned for Rolling Stone finally sees the light of day as a book. To say I didn't like Infinite Jest is the mildest possible way...

Sayonara, Zetsubou-Sensei Graphic Novel 6

Much as I hate to admit it, at this point Sayonara Zetsubo-Sensei has hit something like a comfortably formulaic plateau. What was funny and startling in the first couple of volumes has been reduced to a set of dance steps....

K-20: Fiend With Twenty Faces

The first five minutes of K-20 feature, get this, the theft of Nikola Tesla’s wireless-power transmission device by the masked-and-cloaked Fiend of Twenty Faces. If that description makes you grin, then you are most likely the right audience for this...

School Days and Roots Lessons Dept.

Here is something which sounds like an entry in a You Know You're Getting Old When list, so I might as well phrase it like that: You know you're getting old when the stuff you consider "classic" is just "old"...

Project X Dept.

The whole recent foofaraw about fanfiction (which apparently erupts with tiresome regularity every time a Big-Name Author opens his mouth about it and says something mildly non-fan-friendly) got me thinking about a project I had considered briefly a while back:...

Bird Droppings Dept.

What, expect consistency from the likes of Twitter? Their new ad rules are guaranteed to upset people, and so far they have: My instant review of Twitter's new business plan. (Scripting News)The biggest difference between an open platform and a...

No Cannes Do? Dept.

A sad pall hung over Cannes, in Ebert's eyes: Cannes postmortem. Is that the wrong word? - Roger Ebert's JournalWhile the festivals was underway, the announcement came that some studios want to release their big first-run films to On Demand...

Good Old Days Dept.

The Japan Society's newest newsletter brings word of this event: Japan Society, New York - Authors on Asia Tsunenari Tokugawa: The Edo InheritanceThe Tokugawa Era (1603-1868), brought three centuries of peace to Japan. In The Edo Inheritance, Tsunenari Tokugawa, the...

Tee'd Off Dept.

The New York Review of Books has a fine look at the "new populism", which might be better classified as the New Libertarian Nihilism: Quite apart from the [Tea Party] movement’s effect on the balance of party power, which should...

Thai Cannes Do It Dept.

One for Thailand! Apichatpong Weerasethakul, director of Mysterious Object at Noon, copped the Palme d'Or for his Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives. In honor of the award I've put my review of Object back online; it was...

Outlaw's Art Dept.

On the eve of the release of that long-awaited Nagisa Oshima box set from Criterion, a long and marvelously detailed essay about the four films in the set. Oshima’s forty-year career, beginning in 1959 and ending in 1999, was that...

Words Worth Dept.

A very good piece about translator Juliet Carpenter: The bright career of a literary 'shadow hero' | The Japan Times OnlineCarpenter isn't a stickler for literal meaning. She likens translation to acting, in that translators take words written by someone...

Heaven's Door

If it weren’t for Michael Arias’s name on Heaven’s Door I might never have bothered to say anything about Heaven’s Door. When I heard the director of Tekkonkinkreet was directing his first live-action feature, I was intrigued. Then I actually...

Onze Danses Pour Combattre Le Migraine (Aksak Maboul)

Categories are devilish things. They seem to exist solely for the purpose of being defied. This goes doubly so when it comes to music, where the albums I find most fascinating and personally resonant resist having a single, easy label...

Mangafication Dept.

After my last post, I remembered distantly I'd written another article on this topic a while back, but time and happenstance shoved it to the bottom of the To-Post pile. One archaeological expedition later, here it is: my Totally Non-Canonical Guide...

Boot To The Head Dept.

Once upon a time, in the $1 bin at a library book sale, I discovered a little volume named Celebrated Cases of Judge Dee. A Chinese classic that mixed Confucian ideals with some startlingly modern detective-story tropes, it's often overlooked...

OM NOM NOM ADAPTATION Dept.

Between one thing and another over the past couple of weeks I squeezed in a few episodes of Soul Eater. I had no overriding reason to seek it out other than the recommendations of a friend, but it was easy...

Tinier And Tinier Dept.

Paul Greengrass (of United 93, but not of Watchmen) has, in my opinion quite wisely, turned down a chance to direct the remake of Fantastic Voyage. Fred Pohl talked about the movie in his Science Fiction: Studies in Film, way...

Your Head Asplode Dept.

Dark Horizons | News | Tim Burton Into "Mai, The Psychic Girl" - May 19th 2010... Burton had a film adaptation in preparation long ago but it never came together and he has only now been able to reacquire...

Laugh When Ready Dept.

The Refusers: Proving Orac's corollary to Poe's Law The anti-vaccine movement has degenerated to the point where it is impossible to distinguish real from parody. It's just like Poe's law with fundamentalists, only this time with antivaccinationists. I sometimes wonder...

FORMAT D: Dept.

After looking over the post I made on Sunday about review formatting, I've decided to create a couple of reviews as experiments in new formats. Since I did this with Blade of the Immortal before as an anime, it seems...

FORMAT C: Dept.

I have been wrestling with a problem for a while now: what is the best way to review something that runs over a long period of time and appears in installments, like Berserk or Blade of the Immortal or ×××HOLiC...

Black Jack Vol. #11 (Osamu Tezuka)

This is the last volume of Black Jack, the manga. It is also not the last volume of Black Jack, the manga. Not the last volume that Vertical, Inc. will be publishing in English; and not the last of such...

Critical Criterion Dept.

Criterion's new wave of titles has been posted! First and most crucial: Early Kurosawa. A box set featuring both Sanshiro Sugata films, The Most Beautiful, and The Men Who Tread On The Tiger's Tail. These have not been available on...

Ponyo

Hayao Miyazaki’s Ponyo isn’t just a movie for children; it’s a little like one made by them as well. It doesn’t have the epic emotional scope of Nausicaä or even Spirited Away, but I’m not sure it’s supposed to. At...

Seeding Dept.

Diaspora*: The escape hatch from Facebook, et al. (And maybe also from the dead end that LiveJournal is turning into.) Even the New York Times is interested. Is it feasible? Yes; everything I've seen tells me this is not just...

Digging In The Dirt Dept.

I've upgraded the site to the newest version of Movable Type (5.02), and reorganized a few things to see how they work out. You might want to clear cache before attempting to leave comments....

The Inner Wellspring Dept.

The discussion is about music, but this could apply to most any talk about art: ... because of our Internet facilitated increased inter-connectivity, less people are making personal art.  Deep engagement with one's own surroundings can seem so boring, so...

Dead Trees Dept.

How will the news business survive? From the look of it, Dave Winer doesn't think there will be a news business. At least not a corporate one: Enough of this How will the news business survive? mess. That's not the...

Long Dream

Long Dream isn’t a great movie, but it takes an intriguing idea and plays it out in a way that makes me curious for a more ambitious adaptation of the same source material. The movie was inspired by a manga...

Editions Google Dept.

Am I leery about Google getting into publishing? Yes, still. Welcome to their newest wrinkle: Internet Evolution - Robert McGarvey - 'Google Editions' Could Transform Publishing Google also may want to reshape how and when we buy books, says O'Leary....

The Dreamers Of Dreams Dept.

Funny how things can explode in parallel in several different parts of your life at once. This past week there was a veritable eruption (no, not of Eyjafjallajökull) over fanfiction, on multiple people's blogs. This time 'round it was personal,...

Goin' Guin Dept.

Wild cries of joy were to be heart at Chez Genji after Sentai Filmworks announced it had clinched a licensing deal for the Guin Saga anime. A splendid time will be had by all (who can afford it). There are...

Cell Hell Dept.

Yesterday I made the mistake of "upgrading" my phone from a primitive-but-reliable Nokia to one of Motorola's new Cliq XT (Droid) touch screen models. The experience has confirmed, for me, why I loathe and despise most current phones: they try...

Unkillable Dept.

I've updated the review for the animated version of Blade of the Immortal. It's beautiful to look at and highly watchable as drama, but strangely lacking the cutting black humor of the original manga. It's a case study in how...

Road Trippin' Dept.

After some date-wrangling, number-crunching and budget-scrunching, it looks like I have my convention schedule for the rest of the year. I'm going to be busier than I thought. AnimeNext (June 18-20, central NJ). Otakon (July 30-August 1, Baltimore, MD). AnimeFest!...

Blu-deodrome Dept.

The next wave of Criterion Blu-rays is up for pre-order, and they're doozies. The Seven Samurai. Videodrome. Antichrist. The Darjeeling Limited. The Thin Red Line. The first two are mine, mine, mine. Antichrist I checked out courtesy of NetFlix streaming,...

King of Wolves (Buronson/Kentaro Miura)

Most every society has mythologies that refuse to die even when there isn’t a shred of support for them. On the contrary: lack of evidence forces people to rely all the more on indestructible faith. Consider Japan’s long-standing fantasy that...

Life's 2nd Act Dept.

How's this for a variegated career -- an immunologist turned Nō dramatist? Tomio Tada, Influential Immunologist and Author of Japanese Plays, Dies at 76...

One Eye Shut Dept.

Roger Ebert lets fly at the rush towards 3D. It's a good piece, in large part because Ebert not only talks about how 3D filmmaking adds little to the experience that wasn't already there, but how theaters are being blackmailed...

Apple Bite Dept.

I got handed a slew of major assignments last week, so to celebrate a bit before disappearing into the salt mine I headed into New York City. Last night's Times Square bomb scare was still fresh in everyone's mind, but...

Stone Cold Bargains Dept.

Right now I'm auctioning one copy of each of my books currently in print -- Tokyo Inferno, Summerworld, The Four-Day Weekend -- for Deb's Liver Lovers. If you want a shot at helping someone out, and a shot at getting...

Samurai Chicks

I didn’t expect a movie named Samurai Chicks to be much good, and I was right. That said, it does have the benefit of being cheap and oddball, which is better than being expensive and boring, I suppose. It does...

Rog Save The Queen Dept.

Roger Ebert just posted something I thought would never see the light of day: his unfilmed screenplay written in collaboration with Russ Meyer and The Sex Pistols: Who Killed Bambi? My comment: "If this ever gets filmed, I'll make like...

Empty Orchestra Dept.

Drew McWeeny (known to most as "Moriarty" of AintItCool.com) lets fly at the way bad movies have driven out good: A Commando reboot? Our karaoke culture is officially out of control - HitFix.com I survived the '80s, thinking it was...

Ninja Assassin

Well, at least I can say Ninja Assassin does something I’ve never seen before: It makes ninja boring. It’s to 2009 what The Hunted was to 1995, without the saving graces of Yoko Shimada or Yoshio Harada. When it’s not...

High Kick Girl!

High Kick Girl! is what happens when great martial arts meets mediocre filmmaking. The “High Kick Girl” in question, real-life karate champ Rina Takeda, deserved to have a movie made that featured her talents. I just wish it hadn’t been...

... And Statistics Dept.

I crunched site stats for March and came away with some interesting results. Here's the top article hits: Spirited Away The Last Unicorn Sword of Doom The Black Cauldron Princess Mononoke My writing (Summerworld, etc.) Akira Kurosawa's Dreams The Punisher...

Stormy Night (Arashi no yoru ni)

What a charming movie this is, and at the same time a deep and thoughtful one. Stormy Night adapts a children’s book from Japan into an animated film of remarkable intelligence and keen wit, in much the same way Kiki’s...

Battle Heater

How can I not take to heart a film this gleefully bonkers? Battle Heater is about a man-eating radiator, a description which all by itself could well tell you whether or not you want to see it. It’s the sort...

Killed The Cat Dept.

The other day, apropos of nothing, I put on the remake of Get Carter so I could have some background chatter while working on something. I'd seen the movie before, and seeing it again reminded me of a little thing...

Binbo Dept.

The Times has a piece on breaking silence about poverty in Japan: After years of economic stagnation and widening income disparities, this once proudly egalitarian nation is belatedly waking up to the fact that it has a large and growing...

Go For Launch Dept.

An extended sneak preview of the heartfelt and off-center girls-in-space story Twin Spica is available at Vertical's site. Go check it out....

Absolute Elsewhere Dept.

Earlier in the year I accepted a gig writing music reviews for the MusiqueMachine.com site. After some messing around, I've finally started adding links back to those reviews, which will appear here in much the same manner as the AMN...

May The Force Be With Blu Dept.

That cracking sound is hell freezing over once more. A Blu-ray edition of the Star Wars movies is on the way, according to official Lucasfilm sources. Will they finally do the right thing, after all this time, and give us...

2001 Nights Vol. 1 (Yukinobu Hoshino)

Reading Twin Spica made me realize that outer space, like the Wild West before it, persists so fiercely in our cultural imagination because we have found so many ways to mythologize it. We named one of the first space shuttles...

Then Play On Dept.

Roger Ebert stuck his neck way, way out and declared that video games will never be art. Brouhaha ensues. After some chewing-over of the subject with a friend, I've concluded a lot of this is about semantics. What video game...

The Soul of Wit And All That Dept.

Not long after finishing The Blue Wolf I looked at the other books waiting on my shelf for their turn. Most of them are books in translation as well -- e.g., The Scarlet Gang of Asakusa, about which I find...

The Blue Wolf: A Novel of the Life of Chinggis Khan (Yasushi Inoue)

Here is a novel about the life and times of Chinggis (Genghis) Khan, which is as interested in the weather of his spirit as it is in the geography of the lands he conquered. It is a fascinating hybrid of...

Reissued Dept.

One of my favorite Japanese novels in translation, Yasushi Inoue's Tun-Huang, is back in print thanks to the good graces of the New York Review of Books. Those of you who like sweeping historical novels, pick this up: it accomplishes...

Hack Jobs Dept.

So what's killing good literary fiction? It's not just a surfeit of navel-gazing authors, according to this fellow, but editors too scared to rock the boat: To encourage writers to write about big issues is all well and good, but...

Sorcerer (1977)

It’s a little difficult to convey the disappointment that landed like bricks dropped on the heads of many moviegoers after William Friedkin’s Sorcerer appeared in 1977. The director of The French Connection and The Exorcist had spent something like $20...

Tebana Sankichi: Snot Rocket and Super Detective

Snot Rocket and Super Detective. I’m going to just sit here for a moment and say that title out loud a few times. Snot Rocket and Super Detective. No, the original Japanese title probably doesn’t have that lovely alliteration to...

Bad Apple Dept.

I'm a PC guy. I've always been a PC guy, and I suspect until they stop making little beige boxes of one kind or another, I always will be. I'm not an Apple guy. It's not because I dislike the...

Lost In Translators Dept.

The surest way to get people riled up in any field is to have one of its own scions slap it in the face. To wit: Matt Thorn, whose c.v. for manga translation is probably beyond reproach, recently had some...

Big Man Japan

We are now, I think, well into the post-modern phase of superhero stories, where making such a thing automatically counts as commentary on the very genre it inhabits. These things have been done straight so many times there’s almost no...

Battle Girl: Living Dead In Tokyo Bay

This past week I watched two movies that could not be more diametrically opposed. One was The Hurt Locker, which reminded me that computer graphics and spastic millisecond edits are no substitute for standbys like strong characterization and fascinating subject...

Thirst

What sort of film do you think would be made from the story of a Catholic priest who discovers he’s been turned into a vampire? Given that the director is Chan-wook Park, he who gave us Oldboy and Sympathy for...

Twin Spica Vol. 1 (Kou Yaginuma)

Space is the place.—Sun Ra When I was a kid, I didn’t just want to be an astronaut. I wanted everyone else to be one, too. I imagined it’d get real lonely up there if I was the only one...

Gutenberged Dept.

An interesting breakdown of the ecological consequences of the e-book vs. the printed book. The short version is that you need to buy about 50-100 e-books before it pays for itself, environmentally speaking. This sounds like it should be a...

Rode Hard Dept.

In between bouts of work (it's been grueling), I have been reading Peter Biskind's Easy Riders, Raging Bulls: How The Sex-Drugs-and-Rock'n'Roll-Generation Saved Hollywood. The title is at least half irony, since the book chronicles the way the director-driven Seventies gave...

Astro-Boy (2009)

There are two ways to talk about Astro-Boy, each a little incomplete, so I must speak of both. Way #1 is as an Osamu Tezuka fan, seeing his work adapted for the big screen for a primarily English-speaking audience. Way...

The Hurt Locker

“…war is a drug” Most people look at those words, from the opening titles of The Hurt Locker and think addiction, By the end of the movie they may also think about the other effect most drugs have: derangement of...

The Game And I Dept.

I've got this strange relationship with video games. I feel obliged to know about them, in the same way that a guy will educate himself about (e.g.) baseball so he doesn't feel left out when conversations start at the water...

Live & Kicking Dept.

I've been grousing on and off about live-action anime productions for a while now, about how projects like Paprika are a good idea and projects like Bleach are not. Somewhere along the way I let fly with a statement to...

Spicy Dept.

In between all of the bad news about live-action anime, here's something actually good: Wolfgang Petersen adapting Paprika. So why's this good news? Odds are he's adapting Yasutaki Tsutsui's novel, strictly speaking, not just Satoshi Kon's version of it. This...

Foreign And Domestic Dept.

Roger Ebert reviews the new Bong Joon-Ho (The Host) movie Mother (word is uniformly excellent) and has some totally smack-dab-in-the-dead-center-of-the-target things to say about movies of this ilk: [It is] an adult film, not in the sense that it contains...

The Rebirth

Some movies give you everything and manage to say nothing. Some movies give you what seems like nothing and use that to say everything. The Rebirth is made up of the tiniest details of the daily lives of two people...

Emperor Dept.

Happy birthday, Akira Kurosawa. It's all your fault, you know. You got me started on this whole Japan trip, with your King Lear adaptation, and "the wellspring of the Force", and your template for most every adventure movie with a...

Whitewash Dept.

Three words: Bleach live-action. A U.S. remake. A U.S. live-action remake, exec produced by the same man who gave us Get Smart and 50 First Dates. There are so many things wrong with this picture, I might well exhaust the...

Last Date 8.28.1978 (Kaoru Abe)

This was the first record by Kaoru Abe I ever heard, and from what I can tell it was among the very last recordings he ever made. Barely ten days after this concert, Abe was dead at the age of...

Black Kiss

A pedigree goes a long way with me. Black Kiss was written and directed by Macoto Tezka*, none other than the son of Osamu Tezuka himself, but it has as about as much to do with the work of Tezuka...

Comic Or Tragic Book? Dept.

Two items in today's Times provide not just food for thought but a whole buffet table. The first is the next chapter in the ugly, protracted and deeply problematic copyright custody battle that Jack Kirby's heirs are waging over his...

Black Jack Vol. #10 (Osamu Tezuka)

The timing of this book could not be more, well, timely. I spent most of last week, from the Sunday of the 7th through the following Sunday, nursemaiding my missus and her broken ankle. Despite that, she was determined to...

Shelling Out Dept.

From the current AICN Anime report... Hollywood Ghost in the Shell screenwriter Laeta Kalogridis has stated during a Shutter Island q & a that she plans to "turn in a draft in a few weeks." She expressed cautious optimism about...

All Aboard Dept.

Masatoshi Nagase has finally been recognized for his immortal contributions to the acting world! As in: a Criterion version of Mystery Train! On DVD and Blu-ray, no less! (Youki Kudoh in a supporting role, too!) (And the soundtrack is wonderful.)...

Moon Child

Here is a film where J-rocker Hyde plays a vampire, J-rocker Gackt plays his up-from-the-gutter sidekick, lots of people shoot guns and beat each other up, and Susumu Terashima has druggy conversations with a hallucinated fish. Would that it added...

Yakuza Moon: Memoirs of a Gangster's Daughter (Shoko Tendo)

The tattoo on Shoko Tendo’s back reaches all the way down both her legs, right to her ankles. It wasn’t always like that: when she had been embroiled in the yakuza lifestyle, it had only covered her back. Only after...

Detroit Metal City Vol. #3

Most of us have at some point in our lives a heartbreaking revelation. There are the things we want to do, and the things we do well. Worse, the two often have nothing in common. Such is Soichi Negishi’s lot:...

Black House (Korea)

First there was Black House (Japan), an adaptation of Yusuke(Crimson Labyrinth) Kishi’s novel. And now we have Black House (Korea), which is … also an adaptation of Yusuke Kishi’s novel. The Japanese version was mannered and strange with many obvious...

Un-Vanishing Act Dept.

It's been busy on this end (to put it mildly). Real life decided to take a crowbar not only to me but a few other people real close to me, so I've been doing what I can to make sure...

Brain Drain Dept.

Some nice comments from an author of children's books about taking Sundays off. Sunday Routine - Rebecca Stead - For Rebecca Stead, a Day to Recharge the Brain’s Batteries - NYTimes.com On another note, there's book designer Craig Mod, with...

Detroit Metal City Vol. #4

The hardest thing about being ridiculous is keeping some semblance of ground rules. It’s OK to blow up the world on a whim in something like BoBoBo-Bo Bo-BoBo or even South Park, but less easy to get away with it...

Biomega Vol. #1 (Tsutomu Nihei)

Tsutomu Nihei creates spectacular manga about giant, rotting, manmade landscapes where stern-looking men and bizarre-looking monsters stalk about and do their best to blow each other up. That’s about all his previous Big Thing, Blame!, amounted to in my eyes,...

The Way We Roll Dept.

Dave Winer, one of the "protobloggers" (I suspect he hates that term), provides an intriguing way to do a panel that isn't a panel. Renewed Evangelism: BloggerCon Format. (Scripting News) The format is not far from the Socratic classroom, a...

Thump Thump Thump Pew Pew Pew Dept.

Q: How desperate for ideas, how creatively bankrupt, how cowardly does Hollywood have to be to option the video game Space Invaders as a feature film, and do so with a completely straight face? A: Very. Someone in the comments...

Old But Not In The Way Dept.

Over at Vertical, Inc., they're in the process of setting up a bunch of new licensing requests -- some of them in-house items, some gleaned from wishlists provided by fans. I didn't figure they could talk specifics -- like Criterion...

Iced Hell Dept.

The impossible has happened. Or, rather, the deeply improbable has found a chink in the armor of the possible to slither through. Or something. The animated adaptation of Sayonara, Zetsubo-Sensei is being released domestically. (See my reviews of the books.)...

Going Broke For A Living Dept.

The Times's Motoko Rich has weighed in on the cost of e-book publishing, with a nice breakdown chart of where all the money ends up going. If a lot of the things I observed earlier continue to hold true, from...

New Boy Dept.

Lee Byung-Hee (GI JOE, A Bittersweet Life -- still not released here, why?) and Choi Min-Sik (Oldboy), under the wing of director Kim Ji-woon (Life). The end result: I Saw The Devil. The plot actually sounds like it has a...

New Mind (Game) Dept.

The fact that Yuasa Masaaki's Mind Game still has no American distribution is shameful. Last I heard Go Fish had the title (same with Casshern), but never even bothered to give it a video release. Why? Well, at least Masaaki...

Stewed Dept.

The Times has a few words about Gil Sorrentino's last novel, The Abyss of Human Illusion. It's a short one, but it looks like a beaut. I talked before about his riotous Mulligan Stew, and at some point I should...

Season of Infidelity (Oniroku Dan)

The name Oniroku Dan has come up occasionally here, most memorably when I talked about a movie bearing a title that expressed Dan’s autobiography as one declarative sentence: I Am An S&M Writer. Dan (real name, Yoshihiko Kuroiwa) didn’t just...

20th Century Boys Vol. #6

“Now I told you that story to tell you this one.” That was Bill Cosby, between two of his best routines. That could also have been Naoki Urasawa, right before he made that dozen-year leap forward in the middle of...

Another Brick Dept.

Ebert's new Great Movie choice is ... Pink Floyd The Wall. He treats the film with diligence and respect, and I like his conclusions: it's not a fun movie, not uplifting, but exhilarating and daring and still very cutting-edge. I...

Dig Deeper Dept.

Not every day you open the paper and see news about how key concepts in human history may be upended. Turkey: Archeological Dig Reshaping Human History - Newsweek.com ... it was the urge to worship that brought mankind together in...

Trust But Verify Dept.

Jim Hines has linked to a rather grim story about a woman who was sexually assaulted by someone she met at a convention. The response she gave (and the support she's received) are heartening, and I'm hoping she'll be able...

Storms, Evidence and Song Dept.

First off. Ebert, as usual, nails it. The gathering storm - Roger Ebert's Journal We need to pull in our belts, pay more taxes, demand more value for our taxes, and say no to an ideology that requires converting our...

Biting Wit Dept.

Film - Wit Meets Genre in the Films of Bong Joon-ho at BAM - NYTimes.comI've looked at several of Bong's films before -- The Host, of course, and the amazingly funny and bitter Memories of Murder. Barking Dogs isn't...

Hundred Stories (Kousetsu Hyaku Monogatari: Kowai)

Here is another instance of the same material being adapted multiple times—both in live-action and in animation, and with the animated version turning out far better in every respect. The original story is Hundred Stories by Natsuhiko Kyogoku, he who...

AQUA=MIZU (Toshiyuki Sasagawa)

Odd, this. I’ve had Toshiyuki Sasagawa’s AQUA=MIZU in my daily playlists for almost two years now without ever eking out a coherent statement about it. I suspect that’s because it’s become such a familiar presence that it’s a little like...

Black Jack Vol. #8

So why, you might ask, am I now reviewing volume 8 of Black Jack when I was only just reviewing volume 9? Happenstance, mostly. Somehow I ended up missing volume 7 in a mail mix-up, although when that comes in...

Live Traction Dept.

Tidbits: Most every anime-related news outlet has been babbling about the announcement that a live-action Vampire Hunter D is finally on the rails. The animated movies may also be joined with a third production, possibly a full-blown TV series. I...

Out 'n About Dept.

I spent some time with my folks and my aunt in Jersey yesterday. Time well spent. All smiles, with some fun conversation over lunch about the way languages borrow words from each other. Most of us probably think about the...

Black Dynamite

Was it coincidence or serendipity that the day before I watched Black Dynamite I was having a long, thoughtful discussion with my wife about the differences between satire, parody, farce and spoof? Because here’s a movie that might be all...

No-Hit Wonders Dept.

A former music industry exec has a few words about why the publishing industry is quickly recapitulating the implosion of the music industry. Susan Piver: The Macmillan vs. Amazon Throwdown ...instead of music coming off the streets and up to...

Detour Dept.

Funny how one train of thought produces another. First, a few thoughts about transparency: Op-Ed Columnist - The Power Elite - NYTimes.com I'm not sure I follow what he says. It's not that we distrust the government all the more...

Cracked Shell Redux Dept.

After my last grouse-and-grinch episode about the live-action Akira movie, I come back to you now with what may sound like heresy in my own terms: The live-action Ghost in the Shell project currently on the rails may not, in...

Black Jack Vol. #9

I’ll put this part behind me right away. As Black Jacks go, volume 9 is only fair. That makes it an okay part of a great whole—but that doesn’t dilute the quality of the whole. It simply makes the good...

Flashes In The Pan Dept.

From Scott Green's current AICN Anime installment: My concept of "bookshelf manga" has never caught on, but that's not going to stop me from evangelizing it. Most manga is written as disposable entertainment, and doesn't transcend that. Even for a...

Loveless Dept.

Lester Bangs, again: If love truly is going out of fashion forever, which I do not believe, then along with our nurtured indifference to each other will be an even more contemptuous indifference to each other's objects of reverence. He...

Glass Mask Set 1

Maya Kitajima would love nothing more than to be someone else. At the opening of Glass Mask, though, her options for escape are quite limited. She works in the same Chinese restaurant where her mother slaves away, lives with her...

Pri¢etag Dept.

During a discussion with someone else about giving things away that you'd normally charge for, this insight came up: When you take the price tag off something, you deprive most people of the easiest way they have to gauge its...

Dream Machines Dept.

Francis Ford Coppola once said, "I like all kinds of films, but what I really want is to be moved by a film, to feel as I've never felt, to see things I've never seen before." Before I go any...

Mighty Hearts Dept.

Today, go spread some love. How you do that, I leave entirely to you. It doesn't matter if there is or isn't chocolate; it doesn't matter if there is or isn't a card. It doesn't matter if there's something you...

Doubles

There’s little more disappointing then a movie where there’s not much, you know, movie. Doubles is about two hundred percent concept and almost no percent actual story, an experiment that most assuredly failed but one where we’re forced to read...

Onimasa

There are many things wrong with Onimasa, and it pains me to no end to say that one of the very worst is Tatsuya Nakadai. Here is one of the finest actors that Japan ever produced, under the direction of...

Round Four (Give Or Take) Dept.

On this blog, I've talked recently about two Blu-ray titles that I felt were substandard and should not be purchased: the U.S. edition of Ghost in the Shell 2.0, and the Lionsgate / Canal+ version of Ran. I want to...

Check Your Bags Dept.

And you thought you had it bad bringing your camera through TSA?New Rule on Cargo Is Shaking Art World - NYTimes.comI don't think it's much of a stretch to point out how rules like this do little or nothing to...

High and Low Dept.

First, the bad news. Lionsgate/Canal+'s Blu-ray of Ran (affiliate link for reference only; I do not recommend the purchase of this disc) looks like a dud. Apart from some nice bonus features, which mostly likely would have shown up in...

NO H8 2 Dept.

Another odd bit of news about that cancelled GLBT zombie anthology: Based on his words and the editor’s first statement, this anthology was pulled for fear of people’s reaction. (The editor now says there were concerns the anthology would be...

Etc. Dept.

1. One for the Loaded Questions Dept.: Do School Libraries Need Books? My favorite line: "Books offer a place away from the inbox, where we can go to quiet our minds and reflect." I'm a little dismayed at how much...

NO H8 Dept.

Courtesy of Jim Hines: ...last month, Library of the Living Dead Press put out a call for an LGBT zombie anthology (which sounds like a very cool project, actually).  Yesterday, the publisher pulled the plug on the anthology.  From the...

KANEDAAAA! Dept.

AICN Anime has news about Live Action Akira by The Hughes Brothers. New York's Vulture blog has learned that Warner Bros. to sign the Hughes brothers (From Hell, Dead Presidents, Menace II Society) to direct a live-action remake of the...

Warmer Brothers Dept.

Interesting piece about Warner Brothers' new head: Jeff Robinov Slowly Alters the ‘Warner Way’ at the Studio - NYTimes.com Obviously the DC stuff is of big interest to me (and most everyone else who probably reads this). I was dismayed...

Gankutsuou: The Count of Monte Cristo: The Complete Series

The fan in me wants to rave and drool. The critic in me will be more modest but still enthusiastic. Gankutsuou: The Count of Monte Cristo uses the Alexandre Dumas classic as raw material for a story that spans lifetimes...

Coming Distractions Dept.

It's been a while since my last deep-dive of upcoming titles, so here goes... Dogora has been described as the child of films like Koyaanisqatsi and Baraka, with Cambodia as the set and Patrice Lecomte (The Girl on the Bridge)...

Lost Silver Dept.

Japan Society, New York - Destiny's SonIn Kenji Misumi’s breakthrough film, Ichikawa seeks revenge and redemption after his family is murdered by a rival clan. An astonishing, dreamlike samurai film written by Kaneto Shindo, Destiny’s Son is a demonic masterpiece:...

Hard Or Soft Option Dept.

A pretty good summation of the e-book pricing squabble at POD People, which spurred some thought about how much prices can be driven down. My quick answer: not much. If a hardback book, as an example, is priced $26.99 retail,...

Second Thought Dept.

When dealing with storytelling and writing, one of the fun exercises I like to run through is something I call Turn That Around. It comes out of something Ridley Scott talked about having picked up from Stanley Kubrick: when you...

Lie To Me Dept.

Most authors, we read, and that's about it. They produce the words and we consume them like we're slurping down so many yards of some restaurant's house-recipe pasta. A few of them, a very small Elect, seem to be whispering...

Not Alone Dept.

Earlier today someone else posted: "Part of growing up means admitting to yourself that you don't matter." Like a lot of things, I suspect this lends itself to all kinds of wrong interpretations. Here's what I hope is the right...

Babies Vs. Bathwater Dept.

Two ends of the spectrum. Or maybe better to say two pieces of it. On the one hand, there is Cat Valente's impassioned defense of traditional publishing over the freemium money-later model, where (in her purview) a few short-term gains...

Ong Bak 2

What we have here is not a sequel to the original Ong Bak, and most everyone with some clue about either film knows this. It’s Tony Jaa’s attempt at creating the sort of spiritually-fueled martial-arts epic that Bruce Lee was...

Dig We Must? Dept.

Is anime still an "underground" taste? That's the claim from a Baltimore City Paper article -- although funny they should make that claim since Baltimore annually hosts the country's biggest anime convention every year, with an attendance of 35,000 and...

Mulligan Stew (Gilbert Sorrentino)

The two hardest things in art are being funny and playing stupid. Gilbert Sorrentino must have been touched by genius, because he did a better job of portraying an irredeemably bad writer—i.e., playing stupid—than anyone else I’ve read yet. He...

Deleted Dept.

So not only is Criterion's Ran out of print no thanks to Canal+'s licensing, but a whole slew of other Criterion titles are also getting deleted. According to a post at Blu-ray.com, they are: Alphaville Carlos Saura’s Flamenco Trilogy (Eclipse...

Hunting The Snark Dept.

How's this for a nyah-nyah duel? Amazon Vs. Macmillan, Round Three: Amazon caves and agrees to allow e-book pricing to be set much more competitively, but does so via an announcement worded for maximum acidity: Macmillan, one of the “big...

Vanishing Act Dept.

A few words about J.D. Salinger's self-imposed silence: Op-Ed Contributor - Raise High the P.R. Blitz - NYTimes.com People have speculated about Salinger's reclusiveness as being everything from an untreated social-anxiety disorder to a simple shift of taste: for whatever...

To Market, To Market Dept.

Manohla Dargis argues for a new way to make -- and more importantly, market, independent films: Independent Cinema - Poised for a D.I.Y. Revolution - NYTimes.com I have wondered, on and off, how much of this can apply to an...

Divide

Well, you can’t say I didn’t try. After seeing director Masato Tsujioka’s first feature Lost By Dead and writing it off as a dog’s breakfast, I found he had made another movie, Divide. From the trailer, it looked like it...

Departures

Kobayashi (Masahiro Motoki) was—was—a cellist for a symphony orchestra. One day, after a performance to a mostly-empty concert hall, his boss fumblingly tells everyone “The orchestra is dissolved.” Not You’re fired, which would at least have some ring of honesty...

Akutagawa Ryūnosuke's "Rashōmon": My Own Translation

I've dabbled in literary translation before, but never to any great end. Most of that was because my command of Japanese was only middling, but over time I've built it up to something I hope is decently passable. As an...

Booked Again Dept.

The recent business with Amazon and Macmillan has been commented on in many places: Jim Hines and Cat Valente have their takes on it -- I was especially annoyed with the way Amazon seems to be trying to spin this...

Padded Out Dept.

This'll be the last post I make about the iPad. Honest. The arguments I see popping up about the device seem to be in two camps. On one hand, you have people who complain it doesn't do enough, that it's...

Tsubasa RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE: Album De REProDUCTioNS

Del Rey loves us. By “us”, I mean fans who take the completist approach. People who don’t just watch the show or read the comic, but want all the ancillary goodies—the art books, the character guides, the bric-a-brac that used...

Bad To The Bone Dept.

Among the pile of books that accumulated next to my desk in the last month were a couple of things that touched on, in one way or another, the concept of victimology. One of them was M. Scott Peck's People...

Caught Dept.

J.D. Salinger, aged 91. Most famed for Catcher in the Rye, of course. I don't know if he ever knew about Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex or how his work was used as a tertiary influence on the...

Practice Dept.

So, on a totally different note (pun very intended) ... Seiji Ozawa will be leading a Japanese cultural festival later this year at Carnegie Hall. There's more in the article about Carnegie Hall's financial situation, and about Ozawa's health: he...

iPredict Dept.

So now that we have the "iPad", here's where I think it's going: The iPad will be a Kindle killer. Not a PC killer, not a smartphone killer -- it'll be to the digital reading market what the iPod was...

Booked Up Dept.

Almost by accident, I got back-linked to B.R. Myers's merciless and precise essay "A Reader's Manifesto", published in the Atlantic back in July/August of 2001. Here was a guy who was preaching nothing short of heresy. Modern literature, or what...

Blah-Ray Dept.

It's beginning to look a lot like the Blu-ray edition of Ran scheduled for domestic release is the crummy upsampled master, and not Criterion's own direct-from-the-negative 1080p transfer. Here's a review of the Optimum import version, which is also region...

×××HOLiC: Official Guide

Once again, Del Rey loves us. By “us”, I mean ×××HOLiC fans, who have been rewarded for their fidelity with The Official ×××HOLiC Guide, a deep-dive into CLAMP’s moody and amused meditation on the nature of fate and the cost...

Contradict Yourself! Dept.

A NY Times magazine article about the blog Little Green Footballs has this bit of insight (among others): ... hypothetical speech exists on the Internet in exactly the same way whether it was delivered in 2007 or 1997. The speaker...

Sayonara, Zetsubou-Sensei Vol. 5

Back when Mangajin was still in print, they ran regular installments of a 4-koma comic named A Visual Glossary of Modern Terms (Zusetsu Gendai Yōgo Benran), which mercilessly dissected all those quirky little aspects of modern life, and with great...

Lost By Dead

It’s a rare and wonderful thing when you see a film by a first-time director, made by people with no money and no moviemaking experience—and yet the passion they feel for what they do makes those limitations meaningless. The movie...

Status Quota Dept.

More perspective on how to do something about the stagflation in the manga/anime world: unCLAMPing from the status quo. While I would personally like to see more international team-ups in Japan, too, creators don't have to team up with Stan...

Your Own Private Idaho Dept.

Among the usual roundup of links in this week's AICN Anime installment, there are several overviews of the industry in general. The word is not good, and a lot of that is because Japan remains hidebound by old-school ways of...

not simple (Natsume Ono)

Ian’s a drifter who looks like he could be any age between twenty and fifty, with hollowed-out eyes that have seen entirely too much. And yet he has a oddly naïve, wide-eyed approach to life—naïve enough that one day when...

Wider, Better? Dept.

I was a little skeptical about a movie version of the manga Priest, but the more I hear about it, the more I like it -- especially since it's from the same director bringing us the angel's-war movie Legion. Mr....

Used Up -- And Down Dept.

The other day in a conversation elsewhere, I asserted: If you have a choice between bootlegging something and buying it used for a reasonable price, buy it used. There may be benefits that you don't immediately see. Buying a used...

Ichi (2008)

The opening scenes of Ichi, and indeed most of the first hour of the film, are so well-assembled the film itself seems to be holding its breath. A woman swathed in heavy furs stumbles her way through falling snow thick...

Sub-Sub-Division Dept.

The monetization paradox (or why Google is not my friend) - Charlie's Diary ... if I wanted to spend my time marketing my books I'd have gone into marketing. I'm a writer. Every hour spent on marketing activities is an...

Samurai Champloo: The Complete Series [Blu-ray]

sa·mu·rai n. 1: military nobility of feudal Japan; from verb meaning to wait upon or accompany a person in the upper ranks of society cham·ploo n. 1: Okinawan term for “something mixed” Attitude. Amazing how so much meaning can be...

MLK Dept.

I wasn't sure I had a lot to say about Haiti that has not already been said -- many times, elsewhere, better, less vociferously even -- but I think I might have a few things to say about MLK. In...

Old And In The Way Dept.

If I want a sure sign of how drastically things have changed in anime in the past twenty-plus years, I need look no further than something hanging immediately to my right in my study. This is an original theatrical poster...

A Head Of The Pack Dept.

Movie Review - House - Watch Out for That Disembodied Head, Girls - NYTimes.comIt's a discussion of the insane Hausu.I haven't heard an official announcement from Criterion re: a DVD, but I sure hope Dargis is right about this....

Vampire Hunter D Novel 13: Twin-Shadowed Knight Parts 1 & 2

The Ghost in the Shell TV series had two kinds of episodes. The “Stand-Alone” episodes were just that: self-contained adventures. The “Complex” episodes were meta-plot—the story that arched over and wove through the whole show, and which touched on everyone’s...

Ōoku (The Inner Chambers)

Note:This movie is not related to the manga Ōoku. When I talk to other fans of movies from Asia, they praise the ambition and fearlessness of the best such films—how they aim higher and shoot farther than their pusillanimous Hollywood...

Hiding In Plain Sight Dept.

Ebert adds Caché to the Great Movies. Cache :: rogerebert.com :: Great Movies... a thriller that implodes, not releasing its tension in action but coiling it deeper inside. "Cache" on its fundamental level is about a family that becomes aware...

Stacks And Stacks Dept.

Over at Jim Hines's LJ, there's been a fascinating thread about the economics of e-book piracy. Among the things that came out which didn't have direct bearing on the main topic was an observation I made about people who pirate...

Anti-Social Dept.

A friend of mine recently sent me an invite to a "social networking aggregator" -- oh, god, I can feel my hair falling out already -- called Threadsy. Most people know I have little love for "social networking" sites, not...

The Young Murderer (Seishun no satsujin sha)

Jun is a young man in his twenties who runs a bar near the airport, a tiny cube plopped down in the middle of a desolate stretch of land where the only things growing are the weeds in the cracks...

Walled In Dept.

Further comment on the Google/China thing: Nart Villeneuve — Google’s New ApproachThe [Great Firewall of China] doesn’t have to be 100% technically effective, it just has to serve as a reminder to those in China about what content is acceptable...

Walled Off Dept.

Google is apparently having major second thoughts about doing business in China at all. Official Google Blog: A new approach to China... this attack was not just on Google. As part of our investigation we have discovered that at least...

Tow Away Zone Dept.

A problem that seems to be peculiar to NYC (at least, in the U.S.): how do you deal with diplomats constantly violating parking laws? Weiner Wants Scofflaw Diplomats to Pay Up - City Room Blog - NYTimes.comThat same study had...

Z Is For ... Dept.

Not long ago, a friend of mine gave me his old Zune 30GB model (he replaced it with the current HD edition). He gave me carte blanche to gripe about it as well, because as grateful as I am for...

Feel Something? Dept.

Once upon a time, not so long ago, there lived a fellow named Albert Camus who speculated that the most fundamental question any thinking being would ask itself was: Do I kill myself or not? His answer was, I guess,...

Eastward Ho! Dept.

Among the goodies from this week's AICN Anime report: FUNimation has the live-action Kamui film for the U.S. This was adapted from a long-running manga -- also adapted into a very 1980s animated production (Kamui no ken / Dagger of...

Stolen and Contaminated Dept.

And now for some thing(s) completely different. So what's the most commonly-shoplifted book? The Bible, apparently. My money was on The Catcher in the Rye for some odd reason, but they name-checked Steal This Book -- the obvious choice --...

Tangled Skein Dept.

I've enabled comment threading for articles, on an experimental basis. Let's see how it works out......

Akira Vol. 1

For most of us, it’s Akira the anime, not Akira the manga. Some of that can be chalked up to logistics and finances: Wouldn’t you rather rent a two-hour movie, instead of spending upwards of $125 for six volumes of...

Cringeworthy Dept.

For some reason I'm still getting flyers from QPB, even though I haven't ordered anything from them in too long a span of time to remember. This issue, however, featured something so cringe-worthy I had to show it here: their...

Contrarianator Dept.

I was on the receiving end of no amount of guff from friends when I did a volte on my original "Hey, it's fun!" take on Star Trek: The Motion Sickness (2009). If anything, that only made my distaste for...

The First Genji Press "Blem" Sale!

blem, n. 1. abbreviation for "blemish" 2. merchandise with cosmetic damage but which is otherwise intact Self-publishing brings with it any number of hazards and peculiar conditions. One of them, as I've discovered, is how you can end up...

Our Own Myths Dept.

By way of the Frog in a Well blog, a funny and deeply trenchant item: The Asian Art Museum of San Francisco has been targeted by an anonymous artistic and political intervention that parodies the current Lords of the Samurai...

Jormungand Graphic Novel 1

The cynic in me wants to call Jormungand a poor man’s Black Lagoon. The realist in me says that’s not all that far removed from the truth anyway. Jormungand plays like a spinoff title, where two minor Lagoon characters were...

This 'n That Dept.

Roger Cohen waxes dismayed over Japan's apparent propensity for encouraging otaku-dom. His argument feels like a kindler, gentler version of the sort of Oh, Those Wacky Japs luridness that was all the rage in the Eighties -- although I'd argue...

The Story of Saiunkoku, The Complete Season 1

There are few things in this job better than starting a series you know nothing about, and quickly realizing it’s a winner. So it went with The Story of Saiunkoku’s first set, and so it has gone with the full...

¬x~x=x Dept.

Somewhere else I ran into a defense of Avatar having a weak story that ran  something like this: "Well, there are only X number of stories in the world." (X varies, but it's been as low as three and as...

District 9

“Prawns,” we call them. They’re a horde of aliens, a couple of million strong, half-starved and left for dead in a giant mothership that floated to a stop just over Johannesburg. That was twenty years ago, and since then they’ve...

Entirely Arbitrary Chronological Demarcation Day Dept.

Welcome to 2010, everyone. If this post isn't sufficiently witty, just insert your own post-rollover cleverness here.Expect a bit of backlog-clearing this weekend -- old posts from around the way, a couple of reviews that got stacked up in the...

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