After interfering with a top secret mission, THE PUNISHER is taken into custody by S.H.I.E.L.D. AGENT and AVENGER, BLACK WIDOW. At the orders of Director Nick Fury, Punisher and Black Widow are sent on a mission to stop LEVIATHAN, a global terrorist organization, that plans to sell stolen S.H.I.E.L.D. technology to the highest bidder. Now, the vigilante and spy must work together to prevent this technology from falling into the wrong hands. The fate of the world, and of the AVENGERS, hangs in the balance.
A rock solid story with very adult animation, that is sadly very old, and tired. The first half of the movie is quite a good story arc with good build up, though once it changes from just Punisher and Black Widow things just seem to be forced, yet no one is ever really good enough. How has animation as a medium not changed in the last 25 years except in the processing power, and rendering speeds? The animation, and most of the side characters in this movie could easily just be cut out, and placed into an older movie like Ghost in the shell, Bubblegum Crisis or any number of movies and shows that have come out in the past 25 years. The facial expressions , and over the top antics just seem like a bad culture clash that doesn’t need to be there. I liked the parts of the movie which were spent in other countries, though do not understand why even if the majority of this movie is anime inspired (which is a good thing) do they not make America seem like America? You will understand better when you see it, but the style and mannerisms of the people in each country should be unique, and yet they all feel like a single country like the whole movie was filmed on a sound stage in Hong Kong, or Tokyo.
Illogical cuts, characterization of protagonists (especially Punisher), shallow Fury, shallow BW; unnecessary love twist and motivation of the evildoers is so bad that this film could easily be one of the worst comic adaptations ever. All falls apart in trying to explain the moral code of the main characters and, as we know from the comics, the question of morality for Punisher and Black Widow is the shadow line if there ever was one. Marvel should employ some good comic screenwriters for their animated movie section, that is, if “Marvel” really care about animated section at all. With the last year “Iron Man: Rise of Tehnovore” , and now this; Marvel is making themselves a bad reputation as far as the animated movies go.
As for the action — what action?? Taking a page from the Avengers live action film — or at least TRYING TO — the writers spent most of the first hour in (what they thought was) dramatic banter, and saved the “action” for the last 15 minutes. Which kinda defeats the purpose of animation in the first place, since animation makes it possible to have continuous bangups and beatdowns without blowing the SFX budget — over at DC animation, for example, they have already figured this out. Marvel however is still struggling with the concept. The end result? — well, if you factor in the soporific dialog that seems more written BY children than FOR them; the gray sheen and washed out backgrounds; the failed attempt to “breakout” these characters from the Marvel sub-sub-basement — and a really sloppy “unrequited love” story arc which, in the real world, wouldn’t make it to an afternoon TV soap opera — you end up with one of the most disappointing animation features of all time.
Mardock Scramble is the cyberpunk story from Tow Ubakata (writer of the Le Chevalier D’Eon anime) that has been adapted into three theatrical anime features. These movies are relatively short, but visually striking, and of significant production value. At the start of The Second Combustion, that confrontation is interrupted by Dr Easter, but it isn’t without cost to all involved. Easter takes Rune Balot and Ouefcoque to Paradise. Paradise was the research facility where the forbidden technology behind the cybernetic mouse and Rune Balot was perfected, and it’s the perfect hiding place for them to recover. The transition to the Third film is rather seemless.
Mardock Scramble has been a great ride… It’s been once of the most visceral storytellings I’ve ever experienced. There’s the criminal underworld, corrupt officials, human depravity, and broken characters. The story is violent, sexual, reflecting, and gives a perfect picture of the despair inside a person whose been abandoned by the world. The viewer feels not only this despair, but also the bleak and often fleeting hope for redemption. The animation is beautiful film noir (I fell in love after the first frame of the first movie), and the soundtrack–particularly the choice of “Amazing Grace” at the end of the first movie and repeated during this third–is exceptional. The first half of the Third Exhaust finishes the casino heist of the second movie.
This film exceeds the second in terms of fantasy imagery, especially with the other-worldly Paradise, and the lush and decadent casino scenes. Detail levels are high throughout, and the animation is excellent. Not all anime shows a major difference when it comes to DVD and Blu-ray, as the source resolution is usually less than 1080p. Not so for Mardock Scramble, as this is a film that really has to be seen on Blu-ray. Mardock Scamble is a story of fallenness, despair, and little-by-little… redemption. Unlike stories with a perfect hero who completely saves the day; it’s a real story of the battle just to get through life, and maybe come out a little bit better. The story is difficult to watch, but to anyone who has the stomach for it, I highly recommend it.
Yasuomi Umetsu created Kite back in 1998 and nearly 10 years later creates a sequel that has little to nothing to do with the original except for the girls with gun concept. In fact, you can argue that it’s not really a sequel. You could change the name to just Liberator and nobody would even know the difference.
Monaka is an assassin by night who uses feathers scattering in the crisp night time air as her signature but during the day, she is the most clumsy teenager to ever grace this earth. How on earth she is able to flip that switch is anything beyond compare. Oh wait, it’s an anime film so anything is possible. She works at a maid cafe with a boss so ugly he makes a pedophile look charming. She wants to save enough money so she can live on her own. It’s usual teenager stuff really. Meanwhile her astronaut father working on the international space station delivers a gift to her daughter then later morphs into a deadly creature after eating food that was medically enhanced with the sun’s radiation causing his calcium levels to skyrocket.
Kite Liberator is an unfortunate victim in its attempt to capture the spirit of its predecessor and while the action is merely watchable and does have flashes of good moments, it’s nothing that can stand on its own. It looks like it tried too hard to glorify what the original did without the flair that made the original enticing. It’s welcoming that Umetsu paid more attention to character, making this one a much more personal affair as the heroine goes up against her father-turned-creature villain. Speaking of character, Monaka is pleasing as the assassin personality but falls apart and is less interesting as her clumsy counterpart. No one in the entire world would figure out that this girl was Wonder Woman, let alone the girl responsible for the killings during the film. The other characters are pretty forgettable but the attention is focused on Monaka so it’s to be expected.
Even with this film as a passable watch, it won’t be remembered much. While the animation is clean and the music a good listen, the sum of its parts is nothing noteworthy. Kudos to the creators for making a more personal plotline but Kite Liberator is just another run of the mill OVA. If you missed it the first time around, there’s no use crying about it. You have plenty of time to catch up. Plenty.
With the live action film of Kite just around the corner (which is slated for a 2014 release) starring self proclaimed anime fan Samuel L. Jackson, what better way is there to celebrate than to review the original OVA by Yasuomi Umetsu, who is also known for Mezzo Forte, a similar girls with guns story.
Sawa is a schoolgirl who was orphaned because of her parents’ murders. The detectives who are assigned to the case take her under their wing and one of them, Akai, begins a relationship with her, making her his personal sex slave. Sawa receives a pair of earrings from Akai which contain the blood of her parents so that they will be with her forever. She becomes an assassin and whoever the detectives tell her to kill she does so with a special gun that makes people explode after a delay. Later on, she meets another assassin named Oburi and they form a close bond. Sawa learns a terrible secret and the film’s true colors shows itself.
The animation looks good enough still to this day and has a distinct look that makes it stand out from the rest. The music choices, especially during the action scenes, are genius. The story on the other hand is nothing shocking or resonant but it does captivate enough to keep the viewers interest. The real testament of the film however is the sex and violence included in the film. Whatever your enjoyment level is depends on how much you can handle the aforementioned elements. If you don’t care for such things then your enjoyment may be much higher than for someone who can’t stomach a lot of sex and violence although the violence in this film may be seen as tame compared to what is seen in today’s violent films. There are versions where the sex scenes have been omitted but seeing a young girl and a much older man together may still make you feel odd and unjust.
The film questions your moral compass and whether it was done intentionally or not, the film can still be enjoyable. If you enjoy everything about this film, that doesn’t make you a nasty person, it just means you are a person who can take a story for what it is rather than what it should be. Kite shouldn’t be considered a masterpiece or even a great film but it can be seen as a worthy addition to your anime collection.
Eiri, a talented art student, works part-time in an antique shop in a quiet part of town. One afternoon, he uncovers a delicate Venetian glass that holds a startling secret. When Eiri peers into the glass, he can see a young blond girl, her life playing out like a movie solely for him to see. Curious, he stares into the glass, hoping to learn more about the enchanting girl inside. She is Cossette, a mysterious beauty who haunts the glass, waiting 250 years for someone to finally see her, and set her free. Eiri is soon obsessed with Cossette, determined to do anything he can to help her. Will Eiri see past all the illusions and discover the tragic truth about Cossette, or will he be consumed by anguish and obsession?
This was and still is the most confusing, moving, and bone-chilling anime story that has left me a feeling that no other movie as done before…Aside from Akira, this movie is highly disturbing and pretty bloody, not the movie best fit for those late night flicks. Nor is it for the naive minded who insist on pausing it every ten minutes asking what the hell is going on. Patience and an open mind are suggested, no, are essential to accept this film for what it is, and to see the inner beauty within it. Never before in my life have I found a filmmaker who has an imagination so far from what is commonly known, even in anime standards. Trust me, I could ramble on for much longer, but I don’t want to give away an spoilers. I was left completely blank of info about the film when I watched it, and I want to do the same favor for you. It was still an odd experience after watching it to have your head up in and your mouth open in confusion, and having your head stare directly straight with your teeth chattering all at the same time.
One should watch Petit Cossette for the fact that its unique and contemporary cinematography is a key to an extraordinary journey through a fantastic universe. However, I submit that its story is a fascinating yarn that ranks among the best romance that anime has seen and that, even without the pulsating atmosphere it created, Petit Cossette still would have been an interesting tale. Much like Millennium Actress, Petit Cossette shows that challenging the boundaries of what anime can offer shouldn’t require any sacrifice in storytelling.
Perhaps the runtime was too short to examine the plot properly. Character development has just scratched the surface, and the creators have added one too many secondary characters which did not contribute to the plot. We have to watch them because to drop them suddenly would be a terrible waste. Le Portrait could be summed-up with one word: awkward. It would be best left on the easel, preferably covered with a canvas.
“The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter,” tells the story of a poor man who finds a tiny girl in a stalk of bamboo. He takes the girl home to his wife, and they decide to raise her as their own and name her Kaguya. As she grows, Kaguya’s otherworldly beauty becomes more apparent, and suitors begin to ask for her hand in marriage. She turns all of them down, rejecting the concept of marriage outright. At the end of the story, Kaguya must return to where she came from — the moon.
As is clear from the premise of the tale and the opening scene of the movie when she is found, the titular character is not your average girl. Aside from her unusual discovery, we are first made aware of this in the scene where her adoptive father brings her home. She suddenly grows from a well-proportioned little person like Thumbelina or one of the Borrowers to something like a human infant. Considering that Takahata has always been the teller of more realistic stories compared Hayao Miyazaki (Studio Ghibli cofounder and legendary animator) and his flights of boundless imagination, this moment is one of the first instances in the movie that showcases Takahata’s unique ability to blend the fantasy of this tale with the realism he is more experienced with crafting. It’s so understated that it borders on unsettling.
The first act of the movie is top-tier coming-of-age type stuff. The main character makes fast friends with some local boys and begins exploring the world around her home. Her father wishes to refer to her as hime, or “princess,” but her new pals dub her takenoko, or “bamboo,” to his chagrin. Her micro adventures cement one of the central themes within the film — the Buddhist ideal that a simple life is a good life. Once her father begins discovering piles of gold inside his bamboo harvests, it is only a matter of time before he whisks his little family away to an expensive palace where Takenoko will get the grooming she needs to become the princess the bamboo cutter intends for her to be. It is here that Takenoko — now referred to as Kaguya — begins to really develop as a character. At first, she openly basks in the luxuries of an affluent life but quickly begins to reject the expectations of one at her station — that is, etiquette, physical alterations, and eventually marriage.
The story arc with the suitors is what I have the most problems with. They show up and boast all of the treasures they could lay at Kaguya’s feet, but each boldly proclaims that Kaguya would be the most prized possession were she his. The princess rejects the notion of being objectified like a rare gemstone or precious metal and sends the suitors away. A few of them return later to prove their love through deception, but the young girl sees through their lies and sends them away once more, even refusing the proposal of the emperor of Japan. All of this is important to Kaguya’s growth as a character. It proves that she is still the self-reliant tomboy she was as a poor bamboo cutter’s daughter, despite all her pampering. The problem is that it lacks any of the understated magic that’s so pervasive throughout the rest of the film and quickly begins to feel like a stuffy period piece instead of the fantastical folktale that it is. In a scene where the princess is doing something as uncomplicated as learning to play music, there is a mysticism surrounding her affinity for the instrument. All of this mystery and intrigue disappears as soon as these hopeful husbands show up. It bogs down the film to the point that by the time it’s over, the audience has already been checking their watches for almost half an hour.
“When I am with you, I wonder why I always think of my past.”
About a thousand years ago, a noblewoman, living under the customary seclusion of her day, wrote what many consider to be the first classic novel. Murasaki Shikibu was of the Heian court in Kyoto at a particular time when some of Japan’s greatest literary works were written. As per tradition, she had little communication with men outside of her immediate family and her learning of Chinese was generally frowned upon, but following her husband’s death shortly after the birth of their daughter, she withdrew to a Shingon Buddhist temple. While gazing past an ancient lake by the light of the moon, legend tells us that Murasaki composed The Tale of Genji. Her skill as an author was acknowledged and soon she became a lady-in-waiting at the court, continuing to pen vast prose for the remainder of her life. Sugii’s animated adaptation of Murasaki’s canonical tale captures the atmosphere of the period very well. There is a pensive, unrushed characteristic of the film which is appealing but also an occasional cause of obliqueness. There is not eroticism but passion, not flamboyance but exploration: Buddhism at its most dastardly and sincere.
The film begins with Lord Genji carrying a woman named Yugao through a deserted mansion. She is one of his many mistresses and much beloved. Genji is the emperor’s second prince. It is said, “Nothing rivals him in the Capital” and this is certainly true but, beyond the physical realm, it is soon revealed that he is powerless. When the opening credits clear, we see him being fitted and pampered (to his boredom). Lady Aoi is his first wife and he is less than ecstatic about it. Neither of them feel any real attachment to each other as their marriage was a parental political move. He has many other lovers (there are about fifteen described in the novel): some beautiful, some cold, some intelligent, others meek. His interest in (most of) these women springs from their unattainability and his interest wanes once they are attained.
He has been having an affair with the late first prince’s wife, Miyasudokoro Rokujo (everyone, including the emperor, seem to know about it but it’s officially a secret), for quite some time. She is five years his senior and cynical as to the possibility of their marriage. She is neither the first nor the last love he has conquered recently, yet her pride and jealousy bears an energy that extends beyond the grave. His stepmother, however, is his greatest desire. When Genji learns that the Empress is pregnant, he is conflicted. “I cannot hold back my feelings,” he says to her eventually. Theirs is a doomed path – there can be no easy resolution in the rigid confines of this society. There is a cherry blossom motif which occurs throughout the film representing the cause (or one could say, the result) of this trouble.
The voice acting is superb; often conversational, always emotional. Much of the dialogue contains men talking about women and women talking about men, but it is theatrical and existentially earnest. Featured is a haunting soundtrack that is both fitting to the time period and dynamic. The animation is smooth and tasteful, preferring slow pans and long takes to allow tension to build over time. While a bit dated at first glance, its odd static movements become captivating and surreal. It is a deliberate film with conversations being heard but not seen for minutes on end and characters saying things like, “I have nothing to say.” It’s all done so well though that it’s suffocating serious tone is not painful but blissful. Sugii’s film, however, only adapts the first twelve chapters of the original novel’s fifty-four (entirely understandable considering this spans over a thousand pages). Despite this, it is a worthy adaptation that maintains the essence of its source material in a respectful way.
Major Makoto Kusanagi comes to the life on the screen again with excellent writing from Shirow Masamune and top notch animation from Production I.G. This latest installment of the Ghost in the Shell stories is another excellent chapter. The Major may look different from earlier episodes but it is the same voice actress who played the Major in the original film although not in the TV series or later films. The story takes takes place in the past which is why the Major and Aramaki look younger. During a nation wide hacking crisis threatening the lives of millions of Japanese people, the Major and her trusty tachikoma (armored mobile AI) battle against military cyborg units in real space over control of the Net. Cyber brains galore and everyone is infected with viruses. In the midst of the battles allies become enemies and enemies become allies as the Major begins the selection process for the team members of Section Nine (elite government anti hacking unit).
I’d like to tell more of the plot but I wouldn’t want to reveal the surprise ending that has a great twist and leaves you wanting more only to drool to the idea that the story is not over yet! The direction was well paced and the voice actors were very good. I would highly recommend this film to anyone who loves science fiction, art, animation, and also anyone who just loves a simple mystery story that challenges you to more than just a few simple emotions but also has more food for the brain than any animated films being produced in the United States in recent years!
The background of Ghost Whispers deals with Japanese military involvement in a war in some Central Asian Afghanistan substitute and the possible leak of state secrets. To try and piece it together, you could say that the addition of the AI cyborg to the team was her rounding out her numbers, and that her not being real/dying at the end opens up a spot for Togusa. Who, if you were hoping to see in this movie, you won’t. I suppose we didn’t see much of the rest of the team in the first one, so that makes sense, and since ARISE is ‘supposed’ to be leading up to the first GITS movie, Togusa probably shouldn’t be added to the team until the 4th (last) movie of the ARISE set. It fits with everything so far. Action is good. Logikoma is getting a bit more witty and fun.
The real relationship at the heart of Ghost Whispers (and of the franchise as a whole) is that between the Major and Batou, and it is in the few moments the two of them have on screen together that it starts to spark into life a little. So far I really like both GitS Arise borders, each bringing something new, but also something old and very familiar to the table. The animation of Arise is again top notch and the mood of the series just fits perfectly with everything I have come to expect from both the movies and the SaC series. It is going to be a bitter pill to swallow having to wait until June/July 2014 for Bandai to release Ghost Tears, the 3rd border!
The people who live in the continent Cruzon are born with the ability to manipulate quarts. This ability is called magic. They refine quarts to make them flexible so they can turn gears, power vehicles, and even fire bullets. Quarts are also refined into luminous quarts, which emit light. Both forms of quarts are used in the creation of mechs that are called Golems. These Golems are the main force of weaponry employed in the armies of all Cruzon nations. One of these nations, Krisna, has been thrown into war. The reluctant king of Krisna calls for one of his military school friends, Rygart Arrow, for help. The catch is that Rygart is an un-sorcerer. Put simply, Rygart was born without the ability to manipulate quarts.
He cannot drive vehicles, turn on lights, or even shoot a gun. He was teased and picked on because of this. Rygart’s only means for survival was farming. This is one of the only jobs a un-sorcerer can do. Being born an un-sorcerer is incredibly rare. Rygart’s own father sold everything he had in order to buy a farm. Rygart’s father believed that Rygart could change his destiny. Rygart was even sent to military school in hopes that his “inner sorcerer” would awaken. This never happened, but Rygart became best friends with Hodr, Sigyn Erster, and Zess. The world of Broken Blade is a medieval world with a major difference. In broken Blade quartz has supernatural properties that have led the creation of a wide variety of magical technology including mecha. A small percentage of people called un-sorcerers cannot manipulate quartz making them handicapped in society. Therefore when the un-sorcerer, Rygart Arrow is summoned by his old friend the king to pilot an ancient robot he is somewhat perplexed. But his homeland is being invaded and he is the only person capable of piloting the suit that may be the tide of the war. Unbeknownst to him the head of the task force sent to kidnap the royal family is also an old friend putting him between a rock and hard place.
It’s another time, another world, where resources have grown scarce. But where there is no oil, energy, or metals, there is quartz, and there is magic. Magic in this case refers to the ability that most people are born with, the ability to control quartz, and imbue it with power. Quartz can be shaped into useful tools, and even vehicles, and people can control these devices. But there are rare individuals who are born without this ability, for whom quartz is merely a dead rock. These people are called un-sorcerers. Rygart Arrow is one such un-sorcerer, who tried to overcome his disability and attended a military academy. But when you can’t empower the golems, the quartz robots that defend the various countries, there’s only so far that you can advance.
As one might expect from a movie, the production quality of Broken Blade is very good. The setting allows for plenty of terrain and environments, plus mix medieval and robots is just fun. The robots themselves fall into a more realistic/military category but aren’t without some cool designs, especially Rygart’s ancient mecha. The same can be said for the fights. I am rather curious why they decided to make it a movie series rather than go for a TV serial but I’m not complaining. Broken Blade is a nice package with mecha, magic, political strife, and a little romance all executed with beautiful visuals.