I have never been able to fathom the Japanese obsession with robots and all things mecha. I am sure that if you did a run-down of anime themes, that genre would be at the top of the listings. I can’t go a week anywhere without seeing (or hearing) of another mecha show. The problem is that we have honestly seen this before. “BBK/BRNK” (also known as “Bubuki/Buranki”) is our latest venture. Let us go back ten years, but only to visit, OK. And no souvenirs, either!
Have you ever been to New York City, so great, they had to name it twice? I was there recently and it is everything they say it is and more. As “The Town That Never Sleeps”, it is a magnet for all kinds of movies and shows based there. Although never officially named in this anime, it takes place in The Big Apple, or, as they call it, Hellsalem’s Lot. You see, Hellsalem’s Lot was created when a portal to the “Beyond” opened, becoming, in the process, a paranormal melting pot of monsters, magic and the everyday mundane life. Three Card Monte was never like this!
“Blood Blockade Battlefront” (“Kekkai Sensen” or “Bloodline Battlefront”) tells the tale of Leonardo Watch (to the left, grasping a beer mug), a photographer who has come here to help his ailing sister. But for some strange reason, a mysterious entity gave him the “All-Seeing Eyes of God”, granting him a variety of ocular powers (he normally wear a special set of goggles). He ends up being recruited by the organization “Libra”, who is tasked to clear the streets of trouble and prevent the horrors of this city from spreading to the outside world. Now, it does help that NYC….I mean, HSL, is blanketed in a perpetual fog, so you can’t really see what’s going on or going down or going away, but it makes for overall dreary days. Continue reading
Rakugo is a performance art that I really don’t fully understand. The closest we would have would be a stand-up comic who tells a long and involved story, potentially exploiting the foibles and failures of people. Possibly the best example would be Arlo Guthrie’s “Alice’s Restaurant”. But rakugo is done in a very specific way, telling very specific stories with almost no variance from one telling to the next.
“Shōwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjū” (“Shōwa Era, Genroku Era, Comic Storytelling, and Double Suicide”) is a double story. The first few episodes tell the story of Yotaro. He was recently released from prison and wants to become a rakugo performer (no, you don’t see him up there). In this time and place, being a barista might be a better career choice. Anyway, he tracks down the best rakugo performer, Yakumo Yurakutei (the one on the left, when he was younger; he was also known as Kikuhiko). Well, Yurakutei does NOT take apprentices, but the man is so earnest, and annoying, he takes him on, but with a lot of provisos. Continue reading
I have often said that if a show can’t decide on what the title should be, that is an indication of troubles. Although “Shōjotachi wa Kōya o Mezasu” (“Girls Beyond the Wasteland” or “Girls Aim for the Wasteland”, often abbreviated as “Shokomeza” and also known as “Girls Beyond the Youth Koya”) somehow avoids this problem, the story it tells is one that I have already seen. Continue reading
I don’t think my life is that big of a mess, but I constantly check what I have seen and what I have reviewed and when I find something that I haven’t reviewed, I wince, for I need to be doing a better job of this. Kind of like having GPS directing you to the Chipotle at the bottom of the Hudson River, it’s not all that helpful. Fortunately, I can recover and pass along to you an interesting movie, “Momo e no Tegami” (“A Letter to Momo”). Continue reading
I never do Fathom Events. I find that they charge more for the activity than they need to, like $15 or $30 or $50 (and for that sum, I’d better be sitting in a hot tub of soda!) and it is usually in some out of the way venue at some godawful time, so I would have to drive to East Powdermilk, Wisconsin, to catch a 2 am showing of “The Incredible Stinking Blob from Galaxy X”….with director’s commentary! But when they did a recent offering of the latest anime movie, it wasn’t too costly, at a convenient location and at an acceptable time, so I grabbed it. But, before we can go into the review, a bit of history about the production house.
Studio Ghibli closed its doors in 2014, but a lot of the talent there felt they had more to give, so they started a new company from the ground up. This is Studio Ponoc. Hmmm….’Ponoc’ is not a Japanese name, and you are right. It’s Croatian and means ‘Midnight’. So why not use the Japanese term for it? Well, Studio Mayonaka sounds too much like ‘mayonnaise’, so that is out. But why Croatian? I guess Studio Minwi or Studio Phakathi Kwamabili just didn’t have the same ring. Then, why Studio Midnight? Aside from it being the witching hour, it is also the demarcation line between the end of the old day and the start of the new day, and everyone felt that they were on the cusp of a new day in what they wanted to do and show, so we have their first offering “Mary and the Witch’s Flower” (“Meari to Majo no Hana”). Continue reading