The influence of the Samurai genre has stretched itself far and wide through the anime genre over the years, from classics such as Ninja Scroll and The Hakkenden to modern anime such as Samurai Champloo and Gin Tama. Looking at Japan through a feudal period with maybe a few twists and changes to help grab the interest has long become a key defining element of the genre, especially since there is so much to cover. With Sword of the Stranger, it’s a shame how this movie is rather overlooked and yet there is so much in this that manages to make it stand out and become something to invest in because of original it is…despite repeating a few clichés and tropes, however this film manages to hit all the right notes at becoming a very good movie.
It’s always exciting to see the Police being the central focus in television and film, largely because it always gets you fired up when you see the cops arrest the criminals and bring them to justice while also solving mysteries along the way. Most notably the “buddy-cop” genre is fun because it puts two unlikely law enforcers together under the same badge, work through each other’s differences and eventually work together to where they can beat the bad guys at the end of the story. In anime the portrayal of the police can come in all varieties, from a cyberpunk setting with a serious look at the meaning of life to a light-hearted comedy, plenty to cover and nothing is off limits. However when you take something like the buddy cop genre, throw in a large amount of over the top violence with some black comedy sprinkled in. You get complete and total but entertaining nonsense like Mad Bull 34.
Once in a while there comes a production in the anime genre made to stand out from so many other titles, one that spends so much of its time and money as well as the work of the staff involved to aim for high quality and give something special to the audience. But there is also a production that harkens back to what Anime used to be from an early period when the animation was done by hand and when the expressions, movements of the character and the emotions were clear and present. Seeing how much passion can be displayed in certain works gives you a strong idea of how much went into it, regardless of how it might do financially there is something worth investing in that will no doubt give you entertainment but also heart-pounding excitement, that’s what Redline is.
Satoshi Kon really was a great filmmaker that sadly left us before he had a chance to properly build his career in the Anime Industry, despite having made memorable films such as Perfect Blue & Millennium Actress as well as having some involvement in other works such as Roujin Z & Katsuhiro Otomo’s Memories in the 90’s, Satoshi Kon’s filmography is rather small. As a director he was better known for his realistic style of look for characters as well as often experimenting with surreal and very unusual imagery in his later works, one film however stands out from that. It’s not a fantasy and there’s only very minimal surrealistic imagery, it’s a story about humanity but also about family, redemption, the act of human kindness. Apart from that however, it’s also a Christmas Film.
The Cyberpunk genre remains to be one of the most sophisticated and highly influential genres in fiction, ranging from subjects such as artificial intelligence, cybernetic limb augmentation, hacking as well as powerful and controlling (but also corrupted) Megacorporations, Cyberpunk fiction manages to explore a part of Science Fiction that really dives into the advancements in technology and how it manages to become integrated into the human society. With the settings being widely dystopian but blended with cultural parts of different societies the genre has exploded through various forms of entertainment. Anime is no big exception from titles such as Akira to Ghost in the Shell to Bubblegum Crisis; Cyberpunk has had a huge influence on the medium. However one series in particular that remains overlooked and sadly not as popular as the former and one that really had a lot of potential in the stories and themes it was conveying, only to sadly end without there being a real conclusion – That would be Cyber City Oedo 808.
When people think of manga writer & artist Masamune Shirow they think of only two things, Ghost in the Shell which has had an overwhelming success and countless re-adaptations over the years, and recently his slippery, slimy (and somewhat unappealing) porno which has become his foundation now for his career. However Shirow has always been an influence on the Cyberpunk Genre in Anime through the 80’s & 90’s, creating some rather decent titles but at the same time managing to showcase a certain level of humour and charm to the stories he tells. One of those stories while sadly not being too memorable falls into the category of Simple entertainment, largely because of it’s short running time but also being able showcase some of the best of what Masamune Shirow does.
The idea of immortality in fiction has many different ways to which they become interesting based on who writes the story. Sometimes a character and live forever and be forced to deal with the hardship of life changing around them, often times their immortality can expose their weakness by a removal of a limb which supports the body, whereas the idea of immortality can have a connection with another person and the fate is tied to them. The difficulties with the ability to live forever is realizing what effect it has on your life, but also everyone else around you and what will happen should this curse not be lifted, the good thing about 3x3 eyes is it manages to look into a concept while it’s very linear and makes a rather exciting but also very enjoyable adventure.
One of the interesting things about visual storytelling is that it can help convey so much with minimal dialogue, it gives the audience something to invest in such as the world we are looking at and what the characters are doing and where they are going. Once you have the mythology laid out and a motivation for the characters to slip into everything falls into place, the art would have a very clever way of telling it's story and really pushing ahead with how to tell that story in a well structured way. Sadly one of the errors with visual storytelling is letting the art do too much of showing us some great visuals and having the story that is written into the final product really fall into the category of just mind-numbingly boring, which sadly can be said for The Weathering Continent.
When it comes to manga artist, screenwriter & film director Katsuhiro Otomo, it’s important to remember that because of Akira it managed to gain a huge impact on western audiences and set the bar high on Anime and Manga. Despite this Otomo’s involvement aside from the few projects in the industry is very small when you see the big impact that got him started, as a designer however he’s managed to leave an impression on works that while not a director it’s clear to see the style he has and how people have managed to use it in other works. Although despite a flawed execution it stands out because of how unique it is, that being Freedom Project.
While it wasn’t a great movie, the original Vampire Hunter D was in itself an enjoyable horror that managed to start off an important part in anime history that would cater to the adult/mature demographic with its dark visuals, brooding characters, haunting atmospheres and limitless amounts of gore and blood just to drive the point home. With technology in animation improving to where new ground can be broken, Vampire Hunter D came back once again in the year 2000 with probably it’s most famous and easily best literation in the series based off this character, Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust.