Yuruyuri 8 spins me right round baby right round

Either way, Ayano will end up in doujinshi!

 

Chitose and Chizuru – what a sister combo! It’s just f’ing awesome that Chitose and Chizuru both fantasizes like crazy. And I feel like Ayano, spinning round and round trying to wipe their bodily fluids off their faces!

Wow! That imagery was so wrong! But that’s part of what I like about this show, cheesy and not afraid to be cheesy, and never forgets not to take itself serious at any moment. Most important of all, it’s (bad but good) chicken soup for the Otaku soul!

It simply caters to me and others like me and it throws reasons out of window, and does it with energy and vibrancy, how can I not love it? All the yuriness leaking and dripping from all corners of the screen and yet not obnoxious or overtly sexual, it’s the perfect summer show for me to chill out,  I say, “why not”?

And episode 8 is actually pretty funny. GREAT!

Watch it here at Crunchyroll.

Blade – a good action anime for a Japanese Sunday morning

I’m not a comic book guy and never read the comic, nor did I watch the movie, so I can only comment from an anime watcher’s point of view:

First of all, this is a good anime. It’s good not because of powerful emotions or particularly smart plots. As for the drama, it’s competently done without anything dragged out or overtly lacking. The overall feeling of the show is clean. There’s action, and there’s character interaction. It’s not nearly non-stop fights (like Wolverine), and it doesn’t talk too much without doing what’s at the core of this show. After all, this is a vampire action anime, and that’s what it delivers.

For people who read the American comic, you know more than I do. For people who are like me, you can simply find the background on wiki or ANN or MAL. So I won’t bother with that. I’m just going to give an honest opinion on this stuff.

I’m not a big fan of any anime with a male lead unless it’s harem. An anime about a muscle dude that kicks ass appeals to me even less. However, Blade is not just any other muscle guy that kicks ass. He is the definition of the line “always bet on black”. No, not the cheesiness and exploitation of color, but the fact that he always manages to find a way to win. However, compared with wolverine, I feel the show makes it so that Blade tend to just overpower his opponents at the last second. I mean, don’t get me wrong, the fluid animation (when it’s not still shots) shows that this man can battle, but I don’t see the finesse of a swordsman. I’m probably the minority here, but what I’m trying to say is that, because it’s mostly he goes out and cut down the monster group of the week, there is a  sense of lacking in substance in the fighting department. I dunno, maybe I’m just picky (that’s what I do). After all, Madhouse animation equals top-notch quality, nearly flawless fights, right?

This show is certainly no Claymore. And it lags far behind Ninja Scroll. It probably doesn’t even hold up to the much-less known but awesome Kurozuka…or many other Madhouse fighting shows. It’s competent and good, but it doesn’t quite get there.

The reason I’m harping on the action because it’s an action anime.

But see, for what it is, it does a great job doing what it promises. It does give us the fight, the drama of Eric (Blade) having to deal with the evil within. The stuff about how he had to kill the most important person in his life, how he remains unconvinced of any possible salvation or saving graces, and all that. I get the feeling comic book fans would like this anime just fine. It’s another good Sunday morning cartoon except for the Japanese audience.

With Akio Ozuka, a good veteran male seiyuu with years of experience, as Blade, adding a likable female lead, played by the pure-voiced songstress Maaya Sakamoto (unfortunately she doesn’t sing in this show), an easily identifiable villain, some encounters with people affected by vampire events in different ways, and a cheesy but understandable cameo (I mean, Clamp does cameos and cross-overs all the time), you have a winsome formula. And that’s what the show is trying to do, really.

It’s just I want more from Madhouse.

Bottom line: it’s a summer blockbuster without real solid substance and it’s obvious that Madhouse is fulfilling its contract with Marvel and doing a great job at it. And sometimes, that’s all we ask for.

It’s just that this is a little bland.

 

Conventional Wisdom: A Reflection on Congoing (Part 2)


An official, Publishers Weekly photo of Tite Kubo: the sort we weren't allowed to take.

To be fan and press is something of a liminal experience.

Like, I remember our first San Diego Comic Con in 2008. The main reason we were there in the first place was because Tite Kubo, the mangaka of Bleach, was attending and holding both a fan panel and a signing. We managed to snag no less than 4 press passes—keep in mind this was only the third time we’d ever gotten them at all—and the team was united on that singular goal of getting as much Kuboness as we could.

The plan was simple, albeit demanding. There were 4 panels preceding the Kubo one. An advance team of two would stake out and claim center front row seats at the first panel of the day, and do their best to hold the surrounding seats open as the panels changed hands. Coordination would be handled via text messaging. By the time I arrived one panel before Kubo’s, four team members had already arrived, and there was an empty seat waiting for me. We patiently endured an entire presentation about various Transformers toys and bearded men asking questions about whether an obscure model from the 1980s was about to make a comeback. A glance at the crowd behind, however, revealed through their Soul Society uniforms and their multi-colored hair that half of them were certainly not there to hear about robots in disguise.

At last, the Kubo panel was about to begin. We were told in no uncertain terms that there was to be no photography, video, or recording of any kind. Even for press. Murmurs swept through the front rows, which were filled with more than few other press representatives. Switches flicked off of cameras that had been armed and ready for shooting. Japanese guests are like that sometimes, and we were used to those kinds of restrictions at anime conventions.

Nevertheless, we were bloggers and we were wired. I calmly took out my laptop as the cheers for Kubo, arriving in shades and a white jacket, came out like a rock star. I began liveblogging the moment the panel began. Just plain old text. One of our staff members put in a question in the hat to be asked, and lo and behold, it was asked. I noted this in the blog in bold letters.

Later that night we found out the site’s server was down. Quick traces revealed that the liveblog had been linked to from Bleach fan forums across the Internet, and they had brought our shared hosting to its knees.


You know I take my job seriously because I'm the only one not smiling. (I keed, I keed!)

There’s been a debate, mainly in the political side of the blogosphere, over whether bloggers are really journalists. A stereotype quickly arose of a blogger being a person typing in his pajamas, sucking off the work of real journalists with his inane commentary while somehow getting unearned legitimacy off of it.

This stereotype doesn’t seem to apply as much to fan press covering entertainment-oriented conventions, though. A lot of fan/online/blog sites with press passes serve a much more documentary than editorial role in these events. Since our very first passes to Pacific Media Expo in 2007, we’ve used our access primarily to do interviews, take panel and concert footage, and provide transcripts of things whenever possible. This makes sense given how global our readership is and how the majority of our readers can’t be at the convention with us; it serves a purpose.

What I found interesting about the experience at that Kubo panel, however, was that while being press earned us the valuable privilege of simply being able to attend the convention for free, there was still plenty of fan-like work to do, like staking out seats far in advance and having to subject questions in the lottery. Nor was press allowed to take any footage. This was in distinct contrast to the rest of the convention, where anyone could shoot video of Samuel L. Jackson and other Western celebrities. To be fan press was thus a kind of in-between experience: we weren’t treated like a member of the major mainstream media, but we weren’t quite ordinary attendees either. Our purposes were not just to bask in an idol’s presence, but we had put in the kind of effort someone who wanted just that would have to do.

Is this a fair balance? In a way, we are beneficiaries of a recent dilution of the meaning of “press”: now you don’t have to go to journalism school and work for a newspaper or a magazine in print or TV, to be considered a reporter. You just business cards, a site, and some hits. Some might argue that this is a bad thing, a “cult of the amateur” that sacrifices quality for exposure and gives regular schmoes like me unearned privileges. But I think the difference between amateur and professional is in attitude and result, not in pedigree. My goal at Anime Diet is to be as professional as possible, and to treat the work before me as seriously as I do any other work. I don’t always reach that goal—witness one of my first junket interviews, and cringe with me at its awkwardness!—but it’s always the aim. I was raised with a belief that with rights come responsibilities, and I treat press as a privilege whose responsibility is to act like it’s true: that we are on level, if not better, than entertainment reporters from US Weekly and People who might only come to these places to gawk and mock those weird freaks in costumes. We may be press, but we would always know this scene better than them, because these were our people. We are, still, those freaks.


Pic taken while waiting in line for Hirano Aya autograph, AX 2007.

The last time I rewatched my video diaries from 2007, I felt a pang of nostalgia. They were shot without a press badge, but they contained as much if not more on-the-ground reporting as anything we’ve done since. There was a purity to their fan’s-eye view of a botched convention, capturing raw emotions, glitches, and miscommunication all around. Sometimes I wonder whether I should even voluntarily give up press one year and try to replicate the innocence of that experience of waiting in line, of talking and interviewing your line mates, and even the disappointment of being on the short end of the stick. It’d be a break from hopping from interview to press conference to main event, in the eternal chase for footage and pictures and coverage.

Then I realize how foolish nostalgia can be sometimes. 2007’s video diaries worked because they were both accidental and virginal: accidental in its capturing of mishaps and thus becoming a sarcastic expose (one that apparently made the rounds among anime con staff circles), and virginal in that it was the first time I’d ever tried making any serious videos. There’s no way to repeat that experience ever again, and it’d be stupid to try. It’s been 4 years and many cons since then. Our privileges and responsibilities have grown, and I wouldn’t trade them for some hazy, romanticized experience. There’s nothing particularly romantic about waiting in lines to nowhere for hours. And you will never, ever, see my face in a video that badly lit and pockmarked and ugly again!

But next time, I’m going to try to make a video diary again. We’ll do the interviews of guests and all the other stuff we always do—but maybe I’ll leave more of that in the hands of equally, if not more, capable staff. I’ll take my camera and my microphone, stand up, walk around, and start asking that guy dressed as a tentacle monster just how long it took him to finish that costume and whether I should get a judge to issue a restraining order on him. And then say a few words into the mic myself, before moving on to the cute Yoko cosplayer who’s standing next to a bare-chested Kamina, preening on the top of the steps, waiting for someone to give them a little publicity.

Conventional Wisdom: A Reflection on Congoing (Part 1)

Three Vignettes

2007, Long Beach Convention Center.

There is a man named Matt dressed as a Wii remote standing in front of me and my linemate Steve. We are waiting for the possibility of getting an autograph from Hirano Aya, and we’ve been waiting for two hours already. My new Panasonic video camera and its cigarette microphone are out for fan interviews: they were a great way to pass the time. I sometimes forget to press and hold down the “mic” button to ensure that Mr. Wiimote’s voice is picked up by the external mic and not the camera’s weak built-in one. The sound fades in and out abruptly in the footage. Despite some misgivings, I decide to leave it as is when I edit it, backed by the music of the Pillows. His enthusiasm and uniqueness more than made up for the lack of technical quality. After all, I wasn’t press or anyone from the “real media,” as I called it at the end of my last video that year. I was just trying to record my thoughts and feelings of being at an anime convention.

None of us ever got that autograph, of course.


Unreleased footage from AX 2009

2009, LA Convention Center.

I am sitting against the wall across from Petree Hall, cradling a borrowed video camera. We had just finished our joint panel, the Indecent Otaku Comedy Hour, which was fun, and flawed, and draining. The thought occurred to me that I should be out with my microphone in hand, interviewing the cosplayers for the video diary. But I barely had enough energy to lift my head, let alone summon the courage to talk to a stranger dressed up like Prinny, or Pedobear.

I turned the lens toward the passing crowd, pressed “record,” and said a few words into the microphone—I can’t remember exactly what. When I looked through my video archives to look for it, it was nowhere to be found. It was probably recorded over, replaced by footage that I never ended up releasing. There was no video diary that year, and there hasn’t been since.


This video was actually shot before the vignette that folllows, but it shows the spirit at work in it.

2010, LA Convention Center.

Five of us are hanging out in the press lounge on the next-to-last day of the convention. We are busy reviewing the footage captured both by the HD camera and Ray’s Sony Bloggie, as well as the pictures taken by the new DSLR. There are close ups of singers and cosplayers, footage of fan interviews and guest of honor interviews from the junket. Dan walks in after covering the Funimation industry panel and announces that he has gotten in touch with industry reps to get review copies. Jeremy has just finished his first review in a while, something which is a delight and a surprise. We fill the whole table, and we are the loudest in an otherwise quiet press lounge.

I lean back in my chair, watching ourselves sit and stand and pace about, the tools of our trade and all its wires scattered about the surface. I can’t help but grin. Soon it would be time for the Masquerade, which was held in the Nokia Theater that evening. The theater staff confiscate the Leatherman on my keychain. The costumes were nice but the skits still suck.


Evolution

Do I congratulate ourselves too much there? Very well, I congratulate ourselves. How could I not, when all of these wonderful people that I’m privileged to work with here have accomplished so much? They are why there’s anything here at all, and why we’ve gone even further since that moment of glory described above.

This series is a personal look at my years of convention-going, though, an attempt to distill the experiences of the past several years into something like a coherent statement. The vignettes were chosen to suggest the broad evolution of my “coverage” of conventions, from random video diaries to formal press. But while they were milestones, they don’t tell the whole story either: the endless Skype planning meetings, the hurried dinners at Denny’s before LA Live was built, the dramas that sometimes broke out, and the exhausted birthday toasts at the ESPN Sports Bar after a long day’s work. Because, now, conventions are work. Fulfilling work, but intense and sleep-depriving work, so that readers all over the world can catch a glimpse of what fans and guests alike are doing in the name of Japanese animation and manga.

It’s work, but most of all, it’s fun. There have been many lows as well as highs, but that core has always remained: I do this because I enjoy it. So the pursuit of happiness through anime convention coverage, and the lessons I’ve learned along the way, are the topics I’ll be writing about over the next week to close this summer’s con season.

Next time: Full Court Press, or, what it means for a blogger to be considered a member of the media

Kazuya Murata Interview @ Otakon 2011

As if the premiere of FMA: The Sacred Stars of Milos isn’t fortunate enough, I had the distinct pleasure to interview the director hours before the film. Kazuya Murata has also lent his talents to other animes including Eureka Seven, Pokemon and Gunsmith Cats. Transcript of the interview below, followed by an edited video.

The Paper: First, I want to thank you for taking the time to grant us the interview. On behalf of Anime Diet and Dragonfish Films, I really appreciate your time.

Kazuya Murata: Same, the honor goes to me.

TP: You have done a lot animes. Which one is your favorite?

KM: The most favorite work of mine is the current one, Fullmetal Alchemist: Sacred Star of Milos.

TP: Why is that?

KM: Because it succeeds in having the most interesting animation that I had in mind to entertain the audience.

TP: You have done everything from Pokemon to Gunsmith Cats, two very different animes. How do you approach a project?

KM: There are a lot of genres. But there are certain elements that ensure that the viewers always have a good time. Whether it’s something that feels good or grasps the viewers’ hearts, the basic ingredients are the same. So I like to conjure those essences that makes anime enjoyable regardless of the genre. So actually my approach is always the same.

TP: Well, That definitely explains the magic of your works because the vast majority of your work indeed are very entertaining… definitely grabs the audience. Is there anything else, any other ingredients, to use your word, that you put in?

KM: Anime characters run into a lot of situations. I want the viewers to simultaneously share the same emotional experiences that the characters are having. If the character is surprised or having fun, I want the audience thrown together into the world along with the character. I try different camera angles or rearrange plot development throughout the process.

TP: Well, I must say that you do that very, very well. Of the works you’ve done, has there been something that you like to change?

KM: Personally, I want to make a lot of changes in my animes but once shown, they become part of the viewers’ property as well. Since a particular change I want to make may be in fact an aspect very dear to the viewer, I don’t actually want to change past works I’ve done.

TP: That’s a really good answer. Is there something that you might
want to direct? Is there something that interests you?

KM: Actually, I’m already working on something that I’m interested in but I can’t reveal it here. I rather you to look forward to it than having me tell you about it right now.

TP: That’s funny because my next question was actually to ask what’s your next project but I guess I will have to skip that now.

KM: [Smiles. Chuckles.]

TP: What’s the best part about your job. The worst part?

KM: The best part is that I’m in the position to actually realize the thing that will best entertain the viewers. In turn, the worst part is if the viewers are not entertained, then all the responsibility falls on my shoulders.

TP: I was thinking since I can’t ask what your next project is, how do you approach a project?

KM: In Japan, works are constantly produced but I want to make an anime with a vista that noone has seen. Not just in terms of animation but something that’s completely new in the animation field. Rather, a new vision, a new breeze to mankind. Something really new.

TP: Last question. I am a big music fan so as a silly question, when you go into a record store, which section do you goto first?

KM: [Chuckles.] That’s a hard question because I don’t goto record stores that often.

TP: Ah but the music in your movies are really amazing.

KM: Really?

TP: Yes, like Eureka 7 or FMA.

KM: [Nods.] If I must choose, I like classical and movie soundtracks. Since childhood, I’ve listened to Beethoven, Schubert and Tchaikovsky. Those are my favorite composers and I used to listen to them a lot.

TP: Thank you so much.

KM: Thank you.

Video generously provided by Dragonfish Films.

Akihiko Yamashita (Studio Ghibli) Interview – AM2 Press Junket

And here is the last interview I’m posting from this summer’s conventions: a conversation with character designer and animator Akihiko Yamashita. He’s best known for serving as animation director on numerous Studio Ghibli projects, including Ponyo and The Cat Returns, as well as being one of the two character designers on Giant Robo. In this interview, we ask him about what being at Ghibli and working alongside Hayao Miyazaki is like, his outright worship of JJ Abrams, and why he likes middle-aged male characters so much!

Note: the woman sitting next to him in the video is another character designer, Miho Shimogasa, who’s done work on Cutey Honey FlashGravitation, and Powerpuff Girls Z. She is silent in this interview.

Transcript follows after the break.

Continue reading Akihiko Yamashita (Studio Ghibli) Interview – AM2 Press Junket

Masao Maruyama/Sunao Katabuchi (Madhouse) Interview – AM2 Press Junket

This is one of the richest and most detailed interviews from this summer! We interviewed the president of Madhouse Studio, Masao Maruyama, together with writer/director Sunao Katabuchi, who is perhaps best known as the director of Black Lagoon and Mai Mai Miracle. We get into real depth about who they liked to work with, what their process is for deciding on a project, and especially what it’s like working on foreign co-productions vs working on a Japanese production. (Madhouse has collaborated several times with Marvel in recent years with anime versions of Iron Man and Wolverine, among others.)

This interview also represents something of a first for us, as it was conducted without any translator or mediator—it was done 100% in Japanese, which allowed us the time to get detailed replies. Transcript follows the break.

 

Continue reading Masao Maruyama/Sunao Katabuchi (Madhouse) Interview – AM2 Press Junket

Izumi Matsumoto (Kimagure Orange Road) Interview – AX 2011 Press Junket

Anime Diet interviews Izumi Matsumoto, the original manga artist of Kimagure Orange Road! We ask him about what inspired that legendary manga, what he wished he’d seen in the anime version, and the future of Hatta and Komatsu, among other things. Right now, Matsumoto is at work on a new manga about his experiences with an illness, cerebrospinal fluid disorder.

A transcript follows the break.

Continue reading Izumi Matsumoto (Kimagure Orange Road) Interview – AX 2011 Press Junket

The Pure, Savage Fury Of REDLINE

 

There comes a time when it feels as if the things you liked have up and passed you by, or encompassed nowhere near the appeal that they once embraced, allowing you to be pulled in with insurmountable force. It could either be that a) one has outgrown these things, or b) trends & concepts have steered into territory that lack the attraction as previously mentioned. The thrill is gone, the experimentation, excitement, piss & vinegar, watered down into something non-resembling anything appealing. The end result is a feeling of scraping the ashen, desolate dregs of the former landscape for just about any remaining flints, or gobs of fuel capable of instilling the old, once-tangible high. Anything for that flame to begin again, no matter how brief.

Enter Takeshi Koike’s long-awaited REDLINE….

In Media Res, we are launched face-first into the final stretch of the Yellow Line, a legendary, yet horrifically dangerous all-terrain road race hosting a bevy of speed freaks from numerous planets. It is here that we are introduced to several racers, including humanoids, the amphibious Crab-driving Sonoshee McClaren & killer pompadour wearing Trans-Am longshot, JP, often known to the fans as “Sweet JP”. As wagers fly, coverage of the race spanning multiple networks, and nervous gangsters look on, it is looking like JP’s penchant for spectacularly rigged flameouts is about to be broken by an unexpected victory. It is mere seconds before this is rendered moot, however, as JP’s Trans-Am is partially detonated at the home stretch, leaving its driver in the hospital, and McClaren the winner, and lead qualifier for the most infamous of races, the REDLINE. A race so secret, even racers aren’t notified well into the last microsecond. A mild humiliation, and perhaps a quiet dream of  actually winning legitimately, JP’s role seems to be over – that is until he is slotted by default to be a replacement racer after several qualifiers suddenly drop out. Turns out that the location selected for this hallowed carnivale of speedy carnage is none other than the soverign rock known as Roboworld; a dangerous planet of metal titans, determined to quash any , and all entities looking to race within their atmo..But alas, the race is on..

Years of waiting, this has been the MADHOUSE production that I had been following on and off since peeps began floating around that Takeshi Koike, and Katsuhito Ishii(also responsible for Shark Skin Man & Peach Hip Girl)  would be collaborating on a wholly original animated feature with something of a hefty budget. And in the years that followed, and the revelations that anime studios were beginning to shut down, and the essential climate for anything other than trope-heavy pep was to be something of a dying breed, my hopes had been beginning to fade that this, along with other projects, would never see the light of a projector, let alone the glow of an HD screen. And as the very concept of the full-length anime feature was beginning to look like a forgotten relic outside of Ghibli, and the Ghibli-inspired, tiny sparks of light began to appear in those neglected places. And it finally seemed like REDLINE was to actually become a completed work. Flash forward to May 2010, when Twitter buddy, and science fiction author, Tim Maughan shared his thoughts on the completed film after catching it across the Atlantic. And it all immediately came to mind that if anime was in need of anything vital, it is a wholly original, all-encompassing piece of work that could possibly speak within form, rather than through means most safe to the already initiated.

After a year-plus, I can say with utmost sincerity that REDLINE can very well be that film.

A boundary-ripping exercise in form, Koike’s movie is a ride for the ages that is pure sensory bliss from start to finish. Much more a testing ground for cinematic world-building than story, the tale of JP and his adventures toward reaching for the dream is more excuse to take us through the colorfully kinetic world & ecosystems that inhabit the piece. Part studio 4c-style experimental film, and part Heavy Metal comic gone berzerk, just about every corner of the frame is packed with business that is equally as fun and fascinating as what is happening in the foreground. From the diversity of alien, and machine species, to their mannerisms, as well as fashion and decorum do wonders to populate what is eaily one of the most insanely fun anime films to scope deep into since AKIRA. Even as the story grants us enough charm in the form of likeable loser (with an iffy past-of course..) JP, who longs to not only go the distance, but perhaps break free from shackles no doubt assisted by loyal-yet ultimately sold-out mechanic, Frisbee, the film find its way to keep matters fun without bogging the film down with stock cliches (something I can’t help but feel helped sink TEKKONKINKREET-  studio 4c film that fell victim to this to a certain extent). There is even an attempt to infuse a little drama in between the main characters that doesn’t amount to a great deal. But as mentioned before, if a story is light in places, it helps to compensate in other areas. And this film is stocked to the gills with more than enough to help it glide past.

Oh sure there are dozens of fun characters to witness here that warrant mention. One of the film’s more standout elements is how well it identifies each of the event’s main racers, along with their vehicles, and temperaments. Living up to the original teaser SuperBoin are especially ridiculous in their loyalty to their diminutive princess. There is also the frightening duo of bounty hunters who look like they ran off the set of yet another speedball-injected shonen series, and smack into matters. And another duo that look like a parody of every other comedy duo featured on weekly Nihon TV. There is a satirical edge to much of the TV spots featured in the film that feel lifted from Paul Verhoeven’s Robocop. A more than welcome piece of humor, and exposition that only raises the stakes as Day Zero for REDLINE approaches. (Wait, is that a Koroshiya Ichi gag? And wait, is that Zigorow??)

 

Even as the film occasionally diverts away from the core narrative to grant us looks into how the rogue’s gallery racers is preparing for the big event, as well as how the erm-citizens of Roboworld are taking all of this, there is a certain fluidity to matters that them feel more matter of course, rather than outright digressions. Koike and Ishii (along with contributions by anime surrealism scribe, Yoji Enokido) seem to have found a brilliant sandbox to work within, and all that extra time toward completing the production pays off by allowing the film room to breathe within the mad organics of the world, giving us just enough to laugh and gaze in wonder. There are slight flashes of atypical anime-ess, but one of REDLINE’s greatest strengths is that it is unlike any anime previously created in long form. Just as Koike’s previous works in the Wachowskis’ ANIMATRIX project (World Record), and in the quirky OVA, Trava: Fist Planet, we are looking into worlds beyond the safe and familiar, and personally speaking, this is truly exciting territory to explore. When it is made clear that Roboworld’s bio-engineered weapons are near-poised to be used on our unsuspecting racers and spectators, the film becomes a free-for-all that threatens to almost derail the film completely. And yet, despite all this, again, Koike’s direction, with an astounding amount of animation work, and artistry that is the medium’s equivalent to an extended FANTASIA sequence infused by a hard pounding techno soundtrack, and a penchant for the purely hallucinogenic, it’s all functionally alive in ways anime simply hasn’t been in years.

And we won’t go too much into what is perhaps the most obvious element of this near out-of-control interstellar racing opus, the racing. But this is truly where the film completely goes for broke with astonishing design, jaw-dropping choreography, and some seriously mind-boggling frame rates. If the wild universe Koike and staff have unleashed upon the world haven’t impressed enough already, the opener and closer for the film certainly will for years to come.

It has been a long, truly winding road to find anime that is capable of inspiring not only animators, and anime fans, but anyone truly appreciative of the power of cinema. There is something primal and exciting about works that not only offer fun and surprises, but brings with them a battery of passion & energy that can only be shared through experience. After years of merely adequate features that skirted familiar territory, it’s so refreshing to see such a classic metaphor interpreted with so much energy. This is a film that demands repeat viewings, and is as exciting to listen to as to watch. It is a thrilling gateway drug experience, as well as a bountiful sensory feast for lovers of wild cinema. Was well worth the wait, and essential to any connisseuer’s collection. But if it comes to your town for a theatrical run, get ready to bust down some doors. Ladies & gentlemen, welcome to pure anime.

Nobuo Uematsu Q&A at Otakon 2011 – Video

Ever wanted to see Nobuo Uematsu, the legendary soundtrack composer for the Final Fantasy games? Our friends and partners at Dragonfish Films caught him at a Q&A session at Otakon 2011. He was only at the convention for a single day, and this is one of his rare public appearances in America. And now you can watch it. Check it out!