Showing posts with the label Japanese

Love & Peace (2015)

Most descriptions you'll find of Love & Peace (including the next sentence of this one, I guess) focus on how many disparate genres are packed into the movie. And that's true: this is a musical kaiju fantasy Christmas family comedy, and there's no denying it's a bizarre film (which is apparently par for the course for writer/director Sion Sono). But opening with that is a bit misleading, as it implies the movie is some sort of random jumble of wacky ideas, which isn't the case. Yes, there are a lot of ingredients in this, but they're here for a reason, and the end result is both tonally and thematically coherent, even if the premise is complicated. I'm going to get to the plot in a moment, but... ugh. This one's awkward. Because, as usual, I'm going to spoil the hell out of everything in a movie I'm going to strongly recommend, which is normally your cue to head over to the nearest streaming service, watch this absolute gem of a movie, then c

Shirobako: The Little Key Frames Girl, Exodus Christmas! (2015)

I love running across unexpected Christmas! Shirobako is a series following a group of young women who are trying to start careers in the anime industry. The main character is Miyamori Aoi, who works as a production assistant at Musashino Animation. The series has a slow start and a huge cast of characters, but I like how well it portrays the tension between wanting to work in an artistic field and the reality of trying to make that happen. It’s also really fun to see how many people it takes to make an anime series. “The Little Key Frames Girl” is the eleventh episode of the series. Over the first twelve episodes, the company Aoi works for produces an anime called Exodus, and at this point she’s in charge of making sure the final episode is completed on time. She needs animators to work on the most difficult key frames for the final climax, but everyone she calls is busy, and she’s running out of contacts. She starts walking through the city, and I suddenly realized that i

Nutcracker Fantasy (1979)

Before I start, I want to take a moment and discuss what I find utterly incomprehensible - it is likely not what you think it is. For example, as strange as it is that Sanrio, the Japanese company best known for Hello Kitty, produced a 1979 stop-motion fantasy movie re-imagining the Nutcracker as a dark fantasy in the vein of Oz and Wonderland, it's not incomprehensible. What my rational mind cannot accept is the idea that this was made, shown in America with an audio track starring Christopher Lee as Drosselmeyer, and then was inexplicably forgotten. Why isn't this at least as well knows as Rudolph's Shiny New Year? It's ten times as batshit crazy. The plot stays relatively close to the original story; closer, in some respects, than Tchaikovsky. That said, there are some major deviations. For example, neither E.T.A. Hoffmann's Nutcracker or Tchaikovsky's involved time-travel. However, it's worth noting the addition actually cleans up the narrative

Tokyo Godfathers (2003)

Rotten Tomatoes has a list up of the top 25 Christmas movies . I was embarrassed to count six we hadn't seen. However, only one was in the top ten: Tokyo Godfathers. Well, Christmas miracles being what they are, that was actually available on Netflix streaming (and subtitled, no less). Naturally, we decided to give it a shot. This is a Japanese animated movie about three homeless people who come across an abandoned infant on Christmas Eve and set out on a quest to find its parents. On the way, we uncover what brought them to the streets. One is a drunken gambler, the second a drag queen, and the third is a young runaway. There's no shortage of social commentary stemming from the fact the world dismisses them as trash, but I didn't find it preachy. The drag queen is used as comic relief at times, and there's more than a little stereotyping here. Nonetheless, the character is cast in a very favorable light. Be aware there a few moments that might make you cringe, bu

Itsudatte My Santa! (2005)

Japan has an incredibly bizarre relationship with Christmas. Without getting too involved in the details, the holiday has been appropriated and transformed into something akin to Valentine's Day. That said, they do seem to understand what Christmas means to Europe and America and the concept of Santa Claus. They understand, but they clearly have no problem reinventing it as something completely different, as they did in the two-part OAV, Itsudatte My Santa! I suppose I should mention the first episode is based on a manga. Before we go on, I want to make it clear the episodes we saw were dubbed, not subtitled. Setting aside the fact dubbing is usually pretty bad, it injects an element of uncertainty around whether or not what we saw accurately reflects the original. There were plot points and ideas here that seemed absurdly random, which adds to my skepticism. I tried to find some indication online as to whether this was accurate or not, but I had very little luck one way or t

Ranma 1/2: Tendo Family Christmas Scramble (1993)

Whee!  I made Erin watch this, even though I knew he wouldn't get it.  And if you haven't seen the rest of Ranma 1/2, you won't get it either. I am fascinated by Japan's adoption of bits of Christmas.  It's not a national holiday there, very little of the population is Christian, they have just decided that it's an excellent excuse for a party.  Even just from what I can tell by watching a few anime holiday episodes, Christmas is seen as a time to have fun, give small cute gifts, and go out with your romantic partner.  I approve. Ranma 1/2 is one of the few anime that I have made the time to see all of, because it amuses me to no end.  This episode is one of the OVA series, which is to say it was a video release, not part of the initial TV run. The plot is fairly straightforward: Kasumi has a dream that Santa wants her to throw a Christmas party, so she does. Nearly every significant character in the 161 episode series has at least a cameo, so good luck