The Highlander franchise is known for a very notorious and often troubled continuation in certain areas, the concept of Immortals living through the centuries fighting until “There can be only one” has so much to offer in a fantastical way. What started off as a film that gained a cult status and what was remembered for its songs by Queen then slowly became a series that gradually overtime began to change through film and television and overtime retconning the series through drastic and absurd changes making the series a mere shadow of its former self. With that said however making an anime out of this series and its fantastical concept has some redeeming qualities, but a handful of glaring faults.
Over the years, Anime that makes its presence as a film, TV series or OVA often comes along and leaves its mark on the industry and changes what the medium is for future generations. Some however often never get that chance and end up being lost and forgotten, never to be discovered until it’s too late. One such title, while it was never that popular has at least managed to leave some small impact in a different form of adaptation in the years, as violent and as gruesome as anime of that time would be however the quality shifts from promising to absurd. That would be…Riki-Oh.
During my late teens, my interest in anime aimed for “mature audiences” grew with each title I would come across. From the stuff they were showing on the Sci-Fi channel during the early 2000’s to buying DVDs such as Elfen Lied, Berserk etc. that had what anyone of that age would be interested in, Gore, sex, violence the entire package. One title in particular I remember mainly because of its “hip” and “cool” approach to Vampires in the horror genre, featuring of course guns and violence. However this is the first adaptation of this particular story that has not aged particularly well and is plagued with some measure of faults while still being sufficiently entertaining, that would be Hellsing…The TV series.
The theme of Time travel has always served as an interesting staple in the genre of Science Fiction, going back to a certain time and place to look at certain moments in history that were different back then in contrast to what is there now, but the possibility of changing those events to see what could change in the future is also a thought that is often scary at times to imagine. Time Travel in fiction has been used countless times from novels such as The Time Machine by H.G Wells to films like Back to the Future to take a deeper look at what happens and what the side effects are in Time travel. With Anime you have the works of Steins;Gate & Puella Magi Madoka Magica that manage to cover the basics of how Time travel works, then you have films like The Girl Who Leapt Through Time which focuses on the important notion in that “Time Waits for No One” and why you should not waste it.
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.