Animation Advent Calendar – 12 Days of Christmas #2 – The Real Ghostbusters: Xmas Marks the Spot

Hello fellow adventeers! Another day closer to Christmas means another animation pick for the season. We’re staying in the 80s with a Christmas episode of one of my all-time favourite shows, The Real Ghostbusters. Enjoy!

The Real Ghostbusters S01 E13 – Xmas Marks the Spot

The final episode of the first season of The Real Ghostbusters is the only one to have a Christmas theme. Long before the 1989 movie sequel, the original movie’s animated continuation takes the busting crew back in time. To Charles Dickens’ 19th century Britain.

Lost in a heavy blizzard, the Ghostbusters accidently discover a time warp to the world of A Christmas Carol. Inadvertently trapping the ghosts of Christmas past, present and future, it leaves one Ebenezer Scrooge to carry on his spiteful ways unabated. Once back home in the present, that spitefulness has spread across New York.

“We just killed Christmas, Egon. Christmas is gone. Forever”. – Dr. Raymond Stantz

To save the day, and the timeline, the Ghostbusters must travel back to Scrooge to impersonate the very ghosts they caught, while also retrieving and restoring them from the containment unit.

Originally airing on the 13th December 1986, Xmas Marks the Spot is as good a Christmas episode as you’d expect from such an excellent show. The script as always is sharp, with great insight into Peter Venkman’s difficulties with the Christmas season. The use of a fictional character to impact on reality is a bit of a stretch, but it is a good homage to a classic story that is endearing to many. And a nice dose of Christmas spirit.

Animation Advent Calendar – 12 Days of Christmas #1 – The Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire

The 1st of December is upon us for another year. And while 2020 has been the strangest and alarming of years for quite some time, many of us still have oodles of entertainment at our fingertips. What better time to relieve the stresses of which lockdown tier rules we have to adhere to by getting into the Christmas spirit with the small screen. So, for each day of advent, here is an Christmas-themed animated pick to go along with your daily window chocolate.

The Simpsons S01 E01 – The Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire

Thankfully not a metaphoric title for some kind of John Kramer Saw trap, SROF was the inaugural syndicated episode of The Simpsons, dubbed The Simpsons Christmas Special. This is the one that started it all, and of its multiple Christmas-themed episodes in its 30+ year run, this one is certainly the most traditional and festive. As far as introductions go, SROF lays down many of the show’s long-running narratives. After Bart gets himself a tattoo, Marge has to spend all of the Christmas savings jar (craftily hidden in her iconic towering hair) getting it removed.

“Thank god for Homer’s Christmas bonus” – Marge Simpson

Mr Burns, owner of the Springfield Nuclear Powerplant and Homer’s boss, starts as he means to go on by issuing Christmas bonuses to management staff, but removing them for the “semi-skilled” workers. A notion that is as familiar now as it was then.

“Oh, thank God for the big jar” – Homer Simpson

Homer’s grisly attitude to Marge’s sisters. Patty and Selma, is one mirrored back at Marge’s choice of spouse. As Homer wrestles with the prospect of a zero-budget Christmas, he must also gain their approval to keep Marge happy. I had forgotten this is laid bare in this very first episode, and of course becomes a continuing narrative as the show develops.

Then there’s Ned Flanders. Bless-diddly-ess him. The saint of Evergreen Terrace ensures Homer’s disdain for him early doors, as his Las Vegas-level Christmas lights effort easily puts Homer’s to the sword. Unintentionally of course. Over the years I have personally taken to referring anyone’s mega Christmas lights show contribution as “doing a Ned Flanders”.

The Simpsons was the biggest show (and intellectual property) acquired by Disney following the purchase of Fox. As of today, thirty-one seasons are available to stream via Disney Plus. So there is no better time, and no excuse, to not enjoy this slice of Simpsons life, whether for the first time, or the hundredth. Regardless of people’s views of the show beyond season eight, The Simpsons is a show that has to be heralded as an institution. The Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire is by no means its best episode, but it still remains one of the most important. Especially at Christmas time.

Neo Tokyo is about to E-X-P-L-O-D-E… into your Face in 4K at a Cinema Near You!

“Akira remains the benchmark Anime movie, and, for my money, the greatest of all time”

Manga Entertainment have confirmed that the new 4K restoration of Akira will screen in cinemas across the UK and Ireland from October 7. Katsuhiro Otomo’s towering 1988 classic has been given the 4K treatment for 2020. It will undoubtedly look better than ever. The film will screen in over 200 locations, including selected IMAX venues. There are previews taking place October 7 and 8, with the full opening on October 9. All screenings will be in the original Japanese with English subtitles.

Darcy Giles, Manga’s PR and Social Media Manager says:

 Prepare your eyeballs! We’re thrilled to announce that Akira is coming to IMAX this October for a very limited time only. Grab your tickets as soon as possible – you don’t want to miss this.

Need help finding your nearest screening? The majority of locations are on the website now, and expect the rest to be made available shortly. Over in the US, Funimation will be showing in selected locations from September 24with a 4K UHD Blu-Ray release this December. Find your nearest screening here.

Akira is the one of the world’s most treasured and revered animated movies. Its post-apocalyptic, cyberpunk outline of a world-away-from-ours in 2019 is one of animation’s most iconic productions. It tells the story of Kaneda, a leader of a bike teenage bike gang whose childhood friend, Tetsuo Shima, acquires escalating telekinetic powers after a motorcycle accident. In a world already ignited by chaos and violent protests, Tetsuo’s untapped power threatens to destroy it all.

Akira was the movie that kicked off the western Anime revolution of the 90’s. In the United Kingdom, it was the basis for the Manga Video brand, Manga Entertainment in its current UK form. Over 30 years later, Akira still remains their most important asset, with Manga ensuring each of its restorations reach UK shores. It remains the benchmark Anime movie, and, for my money, the greatest of all time.

Will you be seeing Akira in its latest restoration? Will this be your first time seeing Akira? Let me know your views!

DC Goes Interactive With Batman: Death in the Family

“Will you choose whether Jason Todd lives or dies? How will these choices affect Batman and the Joker? One thing for certain – It’s going to be a lot of fun finding out.”

Over 30 years ago DC Comics fans were given the remarkable chance to choose the fate of one Jason Todd as Robin. The question was simple: should he live, or die? After the votes of thousands of fans they incredibly chose for Jason to die. In turn, creating comic book history in the process.

Warner Bros. Home Entertainment is about to give us all the opportunity to answer a new question: if you had the chance to do it again, would you make the same choice? This time, there is no old-school hotline to call, or any online forms. Instead you can make the choice just by clicking your Blu-ray remote.

From the DC Comics announcement page:-

Produced by DC and Warner Bros. Animation, DC Showcase – Batman: Death in the Family is an anthology of 2019-2020 animated shorts anchored by a new, extended-length short that adapts the iconic Batman: A Death in the Family comic book storyline by Jim Starlin and Jim Aparo. However, in a fitting twist, the Batman: Death in the Family short will take an interactive approach—a Warner Bros. Home Entertainment first—and offer viewers the opportunity to choose which direction the story goes by making choices using their remote control. As if that isn’t fascinating enough, this take on the classic storyline also boasts some intriguing connections to the popular 2010 DC Universe Movie, Batman: Under the Red Hood.

Batman: Death in the Family comes from director Brandon Vietti, who also directed Batman: Under the Red Hood, which also celebrated its tenth anniversary last week. Bruce Greenwood, Vincent Martella and John DiMaggio will reprise their Batman: Under the Red Hood roles of Batman, young Jason Todd and the Joker, respectively. Bruce Greenwood’s performance as the Joker 10 years ago alone will spark interest in this role reprisal.

“Batman: Death in the Family is essentially a comic book come to life,” Vietti says. “We’ve paid homage to the 1988 interactive experience of DC’s A Death in the Family comics release by giving fans a unique opportunity to craft their own story through a branching tool that can lead in multiple directions. The viewer gets to choose these characters’ paths, and each choice paves an alternate future for all of the characters and, ultimately, the story.”

DC has presented its viewers with a real opportunity here. An opportunity to re-write a piece of history. And furthermore, to write new futures. Multiple endings, twists and turns, or simply the opportunity to play out the original story if you wish, are all on offer here.

But that’s not all on offer. Batman: Death in the Family is but one of five shorts. Although not interactive, the other four shorts are as follows:-

  • Sgt. Rock (below), originally attached to Batman: Hush, directed by Bruce Timm. Karl Urban (Star Trek, The Boys and Dredd 3D) provides the voice of the titular character who thinks he has seen everything on the battlefield. But now he is tasked to lead a company consisting of legendary monsters into battle against – what else – Nazi zombies.
  • Death, inspired by Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman, is produced and directed by Sam Liu (Superman: Red Son, The Death of Superman). It tells the story of Vincent, an artist with unresolved inner demons, who meets a mysterious girl that helps him come to terms with his creative legacy…and eventual death. Death was originally included with Wonder Woman: Bloodlines.
  • The Phantom Stranger has Bruce Timm (Batman: The Killing Joke) on board as executive producer and director, and was included on the release of Superman: Red Son. This one is set in the 1970s, as the enigmatic DC mystery man simultaneously playing both narrator and character in a supernatural story of good vs. evil.
  • Adam Strange, an original story attached to Justice League Dark: Apokolips War, is produced and directed by Butch Lukic (Superman: Man of Tomorrow). It tells the origins of Adam Strange, played out in flashbacks, as he struggles to save the very people who have scorned him for so long as the local town drunk.

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DC Showcase – Batman: Death in the Family will be available on both Blu-ray and Digital from October 13, 2020. If you want the interactive experience of Batman: Death in the Family, you’ll need to buy the Blu-ray edition. The digital edition features the Batman: Death in the Family extended-length, non-interactive version of the story. Three other non-interactive versions of the main short (entitled Jason Todd’s RebellionRobin’s Revenge and Red Hood’s Reckoning) should be included as bonus features, along with the other four 2019-2020 DC Showcase shorts.

With DC Showcase – Batman: Death in the Family, DC have invited us to make a choice. Will you choose whether Jason Todd lives or dies? How will these choices affect Batman and the Joker? One thing for certain – It’s going to be a lot of fun finding out.

DC Showcase – Batman: Death in the Family will be available on both Blu-ray and Digital starting on October 13, 2020.

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Kiki’s Delivery Service: The Miyazaki Classic That Saved Studio Ghibli

“Even with three undeniably excellent movies in their repertoire, Studio Ghibli was yet to truly establish itself commercially”

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The key to making a kids’ adventure film fly with its audience is to achieve the unbelieveable. Studio Ghibli’s Kiki’s Delivery Service, released this week 31 years ago in its native Japan, certainly soars among the best of them. But Studio Ghibli’s fourth movie needed to be a sure-fire hit.

The studios previous movie, the wondrous My Neighbor Totoro, was a box office flop in Japan. Producer Toshio Suzuki paved the way for Totoro to be released as a double feature alongside Grave of the Fireflies. This was a collaborative effort from each movie’s respective publisher, Tokuma Shoten and Shinchosha. Of the two, Totoro faired disastrously. It is incredible to think that a movie so synonymous with western anime fans today, arguably Ghibli’s jewel in the crown, might never have reached the west if not for their next production.

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The late 80’s were a period of high-risk for anime feature films. Budgets were getting bigger, the movies more grand in scope and ideas, even experimental. In the previous year, 1988, Akira, one of the most popular anime movies of all time in the west, was itself a commercial failure at the box office in Japan. Kiki’s budget (800 million yen) just a year later was actually higher than Akira’s (700 million yen). Akira however was already on the western radar, and would be distributed overseas shortly after Kiki’s release. Even with three undeniably excellent movies in their repertoire, Studio Ghibli was yet to truly establish itself commercially.

As a way to build up hype for their next movie, My Neighbor Totoro was placed on Japanese television for the first time in 1989. With that came promotional material for the upcoming Kiki’s Delivery Service. The studio promoted the film on the TV station NTV, including interviews with girls of a similar age to Kiki, the 13-year-old protagonist of the film. Additional to that, commercials related to both the film and previous Studio Ghibli films were also aired, raising awareness in an attempt to expand their audience. Kiki’s Delivery Service subsequently opened in Japanese theatres on July 29th 1989, and became one of the year’s highest grossing movie in Japan.

Kiki’s Delivery Service is the fifth movie from Studio Ghibli founder and visionary director Hayao Miyazaki. But this was not originally a Miyazaki-led project. Sunao Katabuchi, who would go on to make the 2016 anime In This Corner of the World, was initially in the director’s chair. Just a year before release however, Miyazaki announced he would be taking control. His influence shines through; the defining hallmarks such as luscious, green hills that seem endless in their beauty, and blue skies that are simply crisp and perfect. And beyond the magnificent visual aesthetics lies Miyazaki’s greatest gift: Positivity through adversity.

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Many will be more familiar with Spirited Away, the 2001 Oscar-winning tale of Chihiro, a young girl trapped in a ghost-ridden old theme park, and must strive on to locate her parents and free them all. Draw the fantastical aesthetics away, it is a movie about a young girl finding courage to do what’s right, and not take for granted what is presented to her as she begins to grow up. Adapting to a seemingly impossible, inescapable situation, learning who to trust (and, more importantly, who not to trust), developing bonds while never losing touch with who you really are.

These very real emotional situations are the endearing messages behind Miyazaki’s movies. Kiki’s Delivery Service is no different; there is no antagonist to impose challenges. The challenges are one’s we can all relate to. Finding one’s place in the world, the importance of hard work as well as finding adversity in personal challenges cannot fail to envelope the viewer in Kiki’s coming of age as a teenager. Apply Miyazaki’s now-staple but nonetheless always beautiful backdrops and structural beauty, and you’ve got one very special movie. One that is arguably Studio Ghibli’s most special, yet undeniably most important, of them all.

Kiki’s Delivery Service is streaming now in the UK on Netflix, and in the US on HBO Max.

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Superman: The Man of Tomorrow – The New DC Animated Movie Ushering in a New Era

“it is time for the DC animated movies to get a fresh start themselves. And this time, they’re doing it with the hero that began the DC Animated Original Movies line: Superman.”

#superman #dccomics

If there’s one thing DC loves, it’s a reboot. Usually a tactic reserved for comic books, as the continuity is “reset” every few years, this has now become a thing in comic book movies. There have been “reboots” for both Superman and Batman in Hollywood. The former began with Man of Steel, now part of the DC Extended Universe, while the Batman franchise, now also part of the same universe, is about to venture into its second reboot in less than 20 years. Now it is time for the DC animated movies to get a fresh start themselves. And this time, they’re doing it with the hero that began the DC Animated Original Movies line: Superman.

The release of Justice League Dark: Apokolips War last month marked the end of the 6-year, 20-movie DC animated movie universe that began with Justice League: War. It was a universe within a universe, with the full series of original movies truly beginning with Superman: Doomsday in 2007. Now, with Butch Lukic at the helm as the new Supervising Producer, a new continuity begins with Superman: Man of Tomorrow.

Warner Bros have already dropped the trailer and debuted the box art and release date for the upcoming movie:-

As usual, there are several special features included. They have been revealed as:-

  • Lobo: Natural Force of Chaos Featurette
  • Martian Manhunter: Lost and Found Featurette
  • Look Back: Justice League vs. The Fatal Five Featurette
  • Look Back: Superman/Batman: Public Enemies Featurette
  • From the DC Vault: Superman: The Animated Series, “The Main Man, Part I”
  • From the DC Vault: Superman: The Animated Series, “The Main Man, Part II”
  • Movie trailers for Justice League Dark: Apokolips War, Mortal Kombat Legends: Scorpion’s Revenge, and Superman: Red Son.
  • A Sneak Peek at the next DC Universe Movie — An advanced look at the next animated film in the popular DC Universe Movies collection.

The voice cast includes Darren Criss (Glee) as Clark Kent/Superman, Zachary Quinto (Heroes) as Lex Luthor, Alexandra Daddario (San Andreas) as Lois Lane, Brett Dalton (Agents of SHIELD) as Parasite/Rudy Jones, Ryan Hurst (The Walking DeadSons of Anarchy) as Lobo, Ike Amadi (Mass Effect 3Mortal Kombat Legends: Scorpion’s Revenge) as Martian Manhunter, Neil Flynn (The MiddleScrubs) as Jonathan Kent, Bellamy Young (ScandalProdigal Son) as Martha Kent, Cristina Milizia (DC Super Hero Girls) as Maya, Petey & Kaylie, Eugene Byrd (BonesLEGO Star Wars: The Freemaker Adventures) as Ron Troupe, April Stewart (South Park) as Mrs. Ross, and Piotr Michael (The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle) as Perry White, as well as Cissy Jones (Firewatch) and David Chen (Gotham).

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The movie will be directed by Chris Palmer, who has previously directed several episodes of Voltron: Legendary Defender, and written by Tim Sheridan, the scriber of The Death of Superman and Reign of the Supermen. The official synopsis is as follows:-

“It’s the dawn of a new age of heroes, and Metropolis has just met its first. But as Daily Planet intern Clark Kent – working alongside reporter Lois Lane – secretly wields his alien powers of flight, super-strength and x-ray vision in the battle for good, there’s even greater trouble on the horizon. Follow the budding hero as he engages in bloody battles with intergalactic bounty hunter Lobo and fights for his life to halt the attack of power-hungry alien Parasite. The world will learn about Superman … but first, Superman must save the world!”

Mary Ellen Thomas, Warner Bros. Home Entertainment Senior Vice President, Originals, Animation and Family Marketing, said of the movie:-

Superman: Man of Tomorrow is an inspiring retelling of the DC Universe Movies’ backstory for The Man of Steel, taking the audience to his early days as an intern at the Daily Planet – and his beginnings as a learning-on-the-job DC Super Hero. Darren Criss and Zachary Quinto have wholeheartedly embraced their roles as Superman and Lex Luthor for this film, and the end result is a special addition to canon of films that every Superman fan will want to add to their collection.”

Having Lukic at the helm will bring a new visual aesthetic to Superman: Man of Tomorrow that departs from the animation styles of previous producers Bruce Timm (23 films) and James Tucker (17 films), thus far represented in the DC Universe Movies.

Superman: The Man of Tomorrow hits digital on August 23, before the Blu-ray/DVD combo pack arrives on September 8. In the UK, HMV has it listed for September 7.

A Silent Voice Review

“A Silent Voice, one of Kyoto’s finest productions to date, undoubtedly gives the viewer provocation to reflect on any regrettable childhood actions.”

Director: Naoko Yamada; Distributor: Anime Limited. 12 cert, 130 mins.

Last year one of the most tragic events in Japan since World War II took place at Kyoto Animation. 36 people died in a horrific attack that has left a feeling of reflection and sadness associated with any Kyoto Animation production. A Silent Voice, one of Kyoto’s finest productions to date, undoubtedly gives the viewer provocation to reflect on any regrettable childhood actions. Naoko Yamada’s adaption of Yoshitoki Ōima’s manga Koe No Katachi, A Silent Voice, is a coming-of-age drama; A story of atonement, friendship, and much more. Originally released in the UK in 2017, it now receives the special edition DVD/Blu-Ray treatment thanks to Anime Limited. Sadness and reflection may root at the core of A Silent Voice, but its poignancy and beauty are defintely worth savouring.

6th grade student Ishida Shouya is the resident class prankster. That is until his increasingly-serious bullying behavior results in a hearing-impaired classmate being transferred out of his school. Ishida, ostrasised by his friends and classmates, begins to learn first-hand how it feels to be the victim. The original title translates as “The Shape of Voice”. It not only displays at both the beginning and end of the movie, it is also curiously closer to the movie’s meaning.

A Silent Voice is a movie about many things. Self-worth, friendship, love, restitution, even regret. The movie originates with bullying as its focus; its many forms and repercussions of such actions. Ishida’s pranks are cruel, unfair and systemic. And although he is responsible for the majority of the bullying against Nishimiya Shōko, his friends and even his teacher immediately and continually reject their new classmate’s difficulties, as well as her personality. Ishida’s happy-go-lucky life is turned upside down when both friends and staff ostracise him following Shōko’s bullying-driven transfer.

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Bullying is a subject that is of course very real. Whether it be shunning someone who just wants to be friends, or throwing their school bag into a pond. Yamada’s delivery of such actions plus their repercussions in later life are eloquently delivered. There is a distinct tenderness to Yamada’s direction, despite the movie exploring a number of unpleasant and difficult topics. Scenes with sign language are subtly non-subtitled to give you a flavour of what it’s like to deduce what is being said. Equally effective are silent Shōko scenes that lead you, through family facial expressions and Shōko’s actions, to empathise with their plight. Empathetic, endearing yet subtle.

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A Silent Voice makes extensive use of photography work. The palette is lightly-coloured and bathes the city of Ogaki with elegance and beauty. More so than the real thing, which is what animation should be; a representation of a world and it’s character, not the world itself.

The soundtrack is also a delight. Soft piano and ambient melodies capture the mood just as effectively as the moments where silence take centre stage in delivering emotion. It’s an auditory experience that’s memorable as a whole as opposed to standout tracks that stick in your mind.

Beguiling, sensuous, delicate yet brilliant, A Silent Movie is simply a captivating experience. The subject matter may well be polarising for some, but it’s a powerful movie that’s definitely worthy of anyone’s time.

Studio Ghibli movies coming to Netflix UK from February

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From next month, Netflix will show 21 feature films from Studio Ghibli in the UK for the first time. What better time to sample some of the best animation, along with accompanying scores, the world has to offer.

With Netflix’s acquisition, the movies will also be available to watch across Asia, Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Australia, New Zealand, and the Americas. Previously, Studio Ghibli had declined to offer digital versions of its content in any capacity. However in the US recently, Ghibli made downloadable copies available for sale.

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The movies will be subtitled in 28 languages as well as producing new dubs, which will no doubt be the main source of scrutiny.  The first wave of releases drop on February 1st. That means greats such as Castle in the SkyMy Neighbor TotoroKiki’s Delivery Service and Porco Rosso will reach Netflix UK’s estimated 9.5 million subscribers.

Further to that, on March 1st, more classics will be added, including Nausicaä of the Valley of the WindPrincess Mononoke, and personal favourite Spirited Away. And again, on April 1st, Whisper of the Heart, Howl’s Moving Castle, Ponyo, The Wind Rises, and others, also drop. That’s no April fool. What a time to be alive.

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Fans of Grave of the Fireflies will despair however, with publishing rights currently residing away from Studio Ghibli. But that is nevertheless only a minor downer in contrast to the quality on the way. For me, I’m very much looking forward to educating my 7 year old daughter on Ghibli’s gorgeous, glorious greatness.

Full list of what to expect and when :-

February 1st

Castle In The Sky

My Neighbour Totoro

Kiki’s Delivery Service

Only Yesterday

Porco Rosso

Ocean Waves

Tales From Earthsea

 

March 1st

Nausicaa Of The Valley Of The Wind

Princess Mononoke

My Neighbours The Yamadas

Spirited Away

The Cat Returns

Arrietty

The Tale Of The Princess Kaguya

 

April 1st

Pom Poko

Whisper Of The Heart

Howl’s Moving Castle

Ponyo

From Up On Poppy Hill

The Wind Rises

When Marnie Was There

Which Studio Ghibli movie is your favourite? Which will you watch first?

Akira is Making a Comeback, Let’s Fall in Love With it All Over Again

The anime behemoth is back – in more ways than one

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This past weekend at Anime Expo 2019, legendary manga creator Katsuhiro Otomo announced a new anime project, namely an adaption of his Akira manga. Sunrise, one of Japan’s biggest animation studios, creators of classics such as Cowboy Bebop, Mobile Suit Gundam and even non-Japanese productions Inspector Gadget (i miss that) and Batman: The Animated Series, will produce. Sunrise CEO Makoto Asanuma confirmed the intention of incorporating the entire story of the manga. So yeah, pretty huge news.

And if that news alone wasn’t huge enough for you, well how about this: The original 1988 movie will receive a 4K remaster in both Japan and the US. Hopefully a UK version will follow also, with Akira still serving as one of Manga UK’s key licenses.

Otomo’s original sci-fi action manga ran for 8 years in Kodansha’s Weekly Young Magazine, from 1982 to 1990. It is set in Neo-Tokyo, a city that has been rebuilt following a mysterious explosion. The movie, directed by Otomo, created an explosion of its own in the west back in the early 1990’s. It is still considered by many, me included, to be the benchmark is Japanese animation. Its hard to argue this point, despite many other glowing examples in the last 30 years.

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After paving the way for anime into the mainstream, Akira also helped launch Manga Mania, a UK-based anime/manga magazine from Dark Horse Comics. The western translation became its premiere manga strip, with 100 pages each month. The magazine’s decline is often attributed to the end of the strip in issue 38. Akira’s 6-volume run is always in circulation across the globe, and remains one of the most successful and influential manga ever created.

As for the movie, a 4K edition is most welcome, and certainly deserving. Of all the Japanese anime works in the world, especially one that is over 30 years old, there are few that look better, even today. It wasn’t the most expensive anime film of its time (1.1 billion yen) for nothing. It has already undergone remaster treatment for both DVD in 2001 (as well as the alternative English dub track) and more recently Blu-Ray, featuring a Japanese Dolby TrueHD 192 kHz remaster. Definitely plenty to look forward to from a 4K version.

As for the manga adaption, if it indeed is produced as a series, don’t expect the same lavish production. Although I’ve little doubt that if Otomo is involved, it will need to be some form of standard-setter. His 2004 effort Steamboy is still the most expensive anime ever produced, standing at 2.4 billion yen, and was in production for 10 years. It’ll be interesting to see how the creative style stays true to his manga. Although the 1988 movie does not follow the original manga (it was still being produced by Otomo while he was making the movie), the style remained very true to the original.

So after 31 years, Akira has once again come to the forefront of Japanese animation across the world. I will of course remain sceptical of the planned Warner Bros Taika Waititi Hollywood effort. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to go watch and read Akira all over again.

Buy Akira on Blu-Ray here

Buy the Akira manga here

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dragon Ball Super: Broly Blu-Ray Review – The Franchise Beast Comes to Your Living Room

Its Over 9000, etc etc

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This post includes the previously published cinematic review from February 2019.

Movie Review:-

There has never been a better time to be a Dragon Ball fan. Following Dragon Ball’s resurrection after almost 20 years with Dragon Ball Super, there has been a resurgence for Akira Toriyama’s franchise like never before. And while that series has now ended, there is no sign of a let up in that resurgence, either. Dragon Ball FighterZ, the excellently-accessible and instantly beloved beat-em-up, took the fighting video game scene by storm as well the franchise’s fan base, me included. And now, in early 2019, comes Dragon Ball Super: Broly: an anime movie for the ages.

Unlike the non-canon Broly movies of the 90’s, DBS: Broly is no simple series tie-in movie. This is Broly’s official integration into the Dragon Ball canon, with the story coming from series creator himself, Akira Toriyama. And where 1993’s Broly: The Legendary Super Saiyan felt like nothing more than disconnected DBZ DLC, this Broly absolutely feels like the real deal.

Dragon Ball Z and Super were both series known for thrusting muscle over matter. DBS: Broly parks that notion somewhat for the first half of the movie. In its place is a history lesson. Broly’s origin is detailed but also that of the the Saiyan race as a whole. Indeed, the Planet Vegeta opening, admittedly initially met with uncertainty, quickly becomes the most successful and powerful gambit Toriyama has ever played. The Saiyans are not as they have always been perceived to be.

Nothing to see here, Richard Donner

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Their status as planet conquerors is reaffirmed, but under nothing more than a slave capacity to – guess who – Frieza. It’s a wholly refreshing take that also integrates the series’ sense of charm and humour to lighten the mood in the face of hardship. Furthermore, insight into Goku and Vegeta’s origins offer what no other Dragon Ball movie ever has before – immediate accessibility for newcomers to the universe.

As for Broly himself, as a child he is outcast to a distant planet due to his immeasurable potential power. Despite his father’s dedication to his son’s well-being, Broly is a child born of mental fragility, a loss of innocence, and the relationship with his father is a strained one. All of which resonate far too well; this is not some simple rival for Goku or a world-conquering threat. Broly is a young man who has been denied the chance to discover his own destiny by both his rulers and his father. Fast forward to the present, where – being mindful of spoilers – Broly, Goku, Vegeta and Frieza face off in a jaw-dropping, spectacular and unrelenting second act that few will forget.

A bit of work required on Broly’s ‘breaking the ice’ technique

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DBS: Broly is absolutely one of the best drawn animated movies ever. The use of 2D shading over 3D models during the excellently choreographed fight sequences is very well done. It delivers a sense of speed and detail never seen in the Dragon Ball universe. You’d be forgiven for having your jaw pushed back up from time to time, such is the quality Toei have delivered here.

As a spectacle, like many a Dragon Ball conflict, DBS: Broly feels like the build up to a boxing title match. You know for a fact there is a big fight on the way. But part of that anticipation is not knowing how it will turn out. It could be anticlimactic. It could be a fight that will live long in the memory. Somehow, over the course of its 40-minute back and forth fight sequence, DBS: Broly manages to be all of those things. It has to be seen to be believed. Slightly unfortunate however, given the shift from origin-movie drama to breakneck battle bonanza, is the resulting inconsistent change of pace. It reached a point that quite frankly feels a little overwhelming on first viewing.

DBS: Broly is an energetic, emotional and exciting thrill ride of a movie. It’s incredible to realise that Dragon Ball, a franchise that began over 30 years ago, has not only sustained its popularity, it stands to be more popular than ever before. It’s the Dragon Ball movie all fans have been waiting for. Given its rampant success so far on its theatrical run, plus the revelations of its Toriyama-penned story, there are sure to be new fans waiting in the wings.

Blu-Ray Review:-

Manga Entertainment’s release comes in various formats. There is the Blu-ray and DVD combination Steelbook, a collector’s edition Blu-ray featuring art cards and poster,  the standard Blu-ray and DVD, as well as a combination pack that includes Broly with Resurrection F and Battle of Gods. Sainsbury’s are also offering an exclusive edition featuring four art cards that are different from those included in the collector’s edition. Personally, I opted for the collector’s edition Blu-Ray release.

The transition of the movie to Blu-Ray is flawless, with both original Japanese and English dubbing tracks available. There is no ‘green tint’ that was present in the US Funimation release. Unfortunately, the UK release of the movie has no special features, which appears to have been a licensing issue.

Regardless of the lack of extras, Dragon Ball Super: Broly is a must-buy for any Dragon Ball or anime fan in general. Despite its place in the Dragon Ball canon and timeline, the movie serves as a good introduction for new fans of the series. There are plenty of emotional moments for existing fans also. The first act alone is some of the engaging Dragon Ball material ever produced. And the final act, consisting of a 35-minute strong fight scene, is breathtaking anime entertainment.

 

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