With all the genres that are afforded to anime, the spy thriller is one that is badly underplayed. Perhaps someone feels that they can’t compete with a James Bond or a Jason Bourne, but it doesn’t have to be that way. In fact, the only other spy series I saw, “Night Raid 1931” was more of a fantasy/supernatural, as those people had special powers and abilities. What if we take a special caliber of person, one with a clear idea as to what is expected of them, and mold them into a strong agency? Thus, the idea behind “Joker Game” (“Jōkā Gēmu”). (more…)
You’re Only “Human”
Immortality is a theme that has been addressed in numerous shows, but not in this particular manner, where it is to be feared. “Ajin: Demi-Human” looks at this idea in a disturbing approach. What is an ‘ajin’? This is a person who is an immortal and almost cannot be killed (they did research and experimentation on all of this). The problem is that you do not know you are an ajin until something happens to you that reveal it. Kei Nagai is just a kid (that angry one in the center; he really liked that shirt!), going to school or whatnot, when he is run over by a truck and killed, but on the way to the hospital, he revives and discovers that he is an ajin. Thus is the end of his ‘normal’ life. (more…)
Can I work that ‘East’ tag any harder? This really isn’t a movie in the genuine sense; more like a special that was broken into two segments rather than to plunk us down for three hours to see the dénouement that is “Eden of the East: Paradise Lost”. I found this a rare offering, where the middle movie was better than the conclusion, as we threw in a needless complication to an already complicated plotline, and that was whether or not Takizawa IS the illegitimate son of the late Prime Minister of Japan.
It does follow the hunt for his mother, who is found living in NYC, tied to that dog with the wings, as well as the final machinations to determine who will be the winner of this contest. This one is more about flashbacks, as we learn how Takizawa was ‘chosen’ to be in this game (along with the other players) and the mysterious man behind it all. Seriously, who can afford to give up or away 12 BILLION yen?!!? (with the exchange rate, about $838 million) for such a lark? (more…)
OK, so when “Eden of the East: The King of Eden” came out, I was very nervous, as I felt it was going to be a recap movie, as we cobble together the salient parts from the TV series and present it as a ‘movie’. Nope, that is not the case. If anything, it goes on to tell more story and (eventually) conclude the tale. It has been about six months since the end of the series. Things in the world are ‘normal’ (whatever that really means). We find our heroine, Saki Morimi in the Big Apple, trying to chase down the Air King (whom we know as Akira Takizawa), but she runs into trouble right from the get-go.
She has been asked by him to meet in New York, but between a grumpy cabbie and her suitcase spilling open, showing some weaponry, the cops are right after her. She manages to escape all that and find Takizawa, but he has had a memory wipe again and knows nothing of which she speaks. Adding to the confusion is the potential idea that he is the illegitimate son of the Prime Minister, who has just died. And thus paving the way for him to be not only the ‘Prince of Japan’, but finally bring to fruition HIS plan to ‘save Japan’. (more…)
One You May Have Missed #3: Near “East”
If you like those cat-and-mouse animes, like “Death Note”, but more closer aligned to “Future Diary”, then “Eden of the East” (“Higashi no Eden”) is what you want to watch, although it certainly starts out in a strange manner. An incident is referred to constantly, ‘Careless Monday’, where on Monday November 10, 2010, ten missiles strike Tokyo. They cause damage, but no causalities. But since no terrorist group took responsibility for the incident, it is forgotten.
Three months later, we find ourselves in Washington DC, where Saki Morimi, a college student, throws a coin at the White House (as a symbol of protest, I guess, or maybe the President should phone home). A security cop tries to arrest her, but she is saved by the arrival of Akira Takizawa, who is stark raving naked (and perhaps mad; it is the winter months). They both manage to escape and Morimi has to track Takizawa down, as the coat she gave her has her passport in it. Oh, he was also carrying a very nasty-looking handgun and that really complicated phone you see up there. (more…)
Short Run Series XXII – “Border” Crossing
This is a show that got me major league ticked off as well. Looks, it’s barely the start of the new year and I don’t think anything is going to match the lever of outrage I feel about this series “Alice in Borderland”, because I feel cheated, cheated, cheated!
I mean, I had not seen a show with such an interesting plot and development since “Btooom!”, as it has the same caliber of idea, but since the dang thing only goes three episodes, what a total rip! I wanted a whole run, not a mere glancing at the menu and then asked to leave.
OK, the story, as it is, begins with these three slacker friends (left to right):
For some odd reason, they appear to be hanging around a deserted subway stop about 2 am. They have no place to go and all day to get there, so they are just chewing the fat. Arisu makes the comment that he’d like to go somewhere far away and not have to do anything and his pals agree. He has problems with his intolerable everyday life and yearns for something more, potentially something more interesting and daring. Suddenly, there is a fireworks show, which is quite strange. The explosions appear to be coming closer and closer and then……. (more…)
Here Comes “Another” One
A similar problem horror shows encounter is taking things away too soon. I remember when I saw “The Shining” for the first time. I had Jack Nicholson come on screen and I already knew he was nuts, so his slide into insanity was not only not a surprise, but had me wondering why it took so long for him to achieve it.
This show is creepy right from the get-go, so the slide into uncertainly is effectively removed. That only leaves us with what I refer to as the Death of the Week…but I get ahead of myself.
In 1972, at Yomiyama Middle School, in Class 3-3, there was an honors student who was good at sports, very popular among his peers and even the teachers were fond of. However, when Misaki suddenly died, the shocked class decided to carry on as if Misaki was still alive. However, when the class’s graduation photo was taken, they saw someone in the shot who should not have been there—Misaki. (Enter kettledrums and violins.)
We now fast-forward 26 years. Kōichi Sakakibara is going to school there, but starts off the year in the hospital, owing to a punctured lung. Just about to leave the hospital, he sees a strange girl wearing an eye patch, who descends to the basement of the hospital to ‘see someone’. But on that floor is the morgue. What gives?
As Koichi goes to school, things take a turn for the weird. He sees the girl again, but no one talks to her at all. It is as if she does not exist. Well, nature abhors a vacuum, so he starts to ask questions, but is told to “stop hanging out with something that doesn’t exist”. So, does this settle the issue? Did Freddy Kruger stop at one? (more…)
Nothing To “Shiki” a Stick At
Horror has a big problem: balance. Show too little horror and people feel cheated. Show too much and they get turned off by the gore. Shiki tries this balancing act and it ultimately falls apart, but it did its best.
The story opens up in Sotoba, a rural village in the mountains, one of those ‘the road in is the road out’ type of town and everyone knows everyone and everything about everything. Another hot summer has descended and school has concluded for the break. Megumi Shimizu wants out of this place, longing for the bright lights and big city, perhapsTokyo, but she knows that is not going to happen, now or later.
She runs into the mysterious Kirishiki family, who has moved into the massive and impressive Kanemasa mansion that overlooks the town. Megumi disappears and later turns up dead, for no really apparent reason. She was anemic, but not enough to kill her.
Then slowly, ever so slowly, people are dying off. In a place where one or two deaths a year are expected, we are getting into one or two deaths a week. Is there an epidemic? Some kind of contagion? An undefined disease?
The local doctor, Toshio Ozaki, who took over the clinic from his father, is baffled at what is going on and has no immediate answers. Not even the priest, Seishin Muroi, has an answer. Or does he? (more…)
Do you like long walks on the beaches? Perhaps you relish the days when you can go skipping through town holding your partners hand? Or possibly enjoying a fine evening while watching the sunset slowly descend across the horizon? Well, neither does professional assassin for hire Duke Togo a.k.a. Golgo 13.
A Living Weapon
What does the Mafia, FBI, CIA, MI6, British Intelligence, War Vets, Snipers, Paparazzi, and Professional Assassins all have in common with each other? They ALL learned the hard way not to piss off Duke Togo. If you have 3 million dollars and a problem that seems impossible to solve, then you’re in luck. Golgo 13 will take any job; from shooting out the violin strings on your arch nemesis during a solo ensemble, to snuffing out a human organ harvesting tycoon that lives in an impenetrable fortress.
Over The Top
Golgo 13 was created in 1969, with multiple movies (including two live-action films), Manga, OVA’s and series being produced over the decades. In fact, Golgo 13 is the longest running Manga in publication to date. The veteran’s anime club on the MAL website recommended this anime for me to watch. I can’t say I’m disappointed either. While this series isn’t recommended for younger audiences, adults may find it a bit more to their standards. Golgo 13 is a world renowned assassin that is feared above all others due to the fact he has completed every single mission ever given to him. Each episode is its own unique story that plays out like a 1980’s style TV series. It almost reminds me of a more graphic and sinister version of the A-Team. While some episodes of the series may seem a bit over the top to certain viewers; including one where Golgo has to break out of an island prison with a specific prisoner. Other episodes have been described as “alarmingly accurate” by some of my fellow former military brethren.
You Can “Count” On This
Short of vampire movies, it feels like “The Count of Monte Cristo” is one of those stories that has been made (and remade) a huge amount of times. I mean, it is a pretty resilient story of betrayal, revenge and redemption and this anime version is no different at the core than any other version. But how they approach it is very intriguing. Now, the official title is “Gankutsuou: The Count of Monte Cristo” and that part of the title is made clear as the series progresses. But what we have here is what I call Future Past. It feels like 19th Century France in architecture and dress and those phony airs of tact, but we have a lot of the conveniences of the modern age: space travel, computers and hover vehicles, to name a few. It does help that this takes place in the year 5053.
Although we keep a lot of the story, we also tinker a lot with the story and that is not a bad thing. We focus in on Viscount Albert de Morcerf. A rather naïve 15-year-old lad, he and his friend, Baron Franz d’Epinay, are attending some grand and glorious festival on Luna (yes, we are on the moon; remember, this is the 51st Century), where they are having a ripping good time. However, Albert falls afoul of some cutpurses and is kidnapped, only to be rescued by Le Compte-de Monte Cristo, a mysterious man of enormous wealth and magnificent charisma. (If you know the plot, this will not come as a great surprise as to the reason for the kidnapping, OK?)
Still, it is a good retelling of the story, in tandem with the surroundings, but the huge selling point is the look of the show. (more…)