starlady: Sheeta & Pazu watch the world open out before them (think in layers)
I went to see this with a bunch of people the weekend it came out in wide release, and the general consensus among our group was that it was beautiful but unsatisfying. In the weeks since I have spent a lot of time arguing with people about it. My conversation with [personal profile] rushthatspeaks in this review of the movie, however, is making me reconsider my perspective and my opinions, and think that I should see it again.

One exceedingly minor quibble: since I went to the trouble of learning classical Japanese, I can tell you that "-nu" is a perfective ending in modern Japanese, and therefore a more accurate translation would be 'The Wind Has Arisen.' /pedantry

starlady: (utena myth)
[personal profile] lnhammer asked about my favorite Japanese book or poem.

I think the answer is still the Tale of Genji. I read the Tyler translation (which, now that I've read it in the original Japanese, I know is totally inadequate, but I still think it's the best single version available in English) in my freshman year of college; it took me four months. Genji is a world in itself, and when I started reading Proust several years later I realized that it is entirely true to compare the two writers--Murasaki and Proust both write a degree of psychological realism, and complexity, that few others have ever achieved. And I love how it's all about the women (Sidenote: Milan Kundera, you and your sexist, Eurocentric ideas about the world's first novel being Don Quixote can go fuck yourselves.) I also really enjoyed The Pillow Book when I read it three years ago. Sei was totally awesome, too.

[personal profile] meganbmoore asked about my five favorite shoujo.

Revolutionary Girl Utena - my first anime, and still one of my favorite. Girls with swords! What more can you want? And speaking of girls with swords…
Rose of Versailles - Girls with swords, in the French Revolution no less! 
Princess Tutu - This is an amazing anime. A duck becomes a ballerina who becomes a magical girl who saves the world.
Puella Magica Mahou Shoujo Madoka - This anime was an instant classic, and rightfully so.
# I think five is a tie between Sailor Moon and Nana. I really like Paradise Kiss, too, though that is really pushing the boundaries of 'shoujo'--if it were a book, it would be squarely in the emerging "New Adult" category.

starlady: Uryuu & Ichigo reenact Scott Pilgrim (that doesn't even rhyme)
Pacific Rim. Dir. Guillermo del Toro. 2013.

I really liked this movie! I was expecting to find it enjoyable, but I was surprised at how much I genuinely liked it! I in fact am planning to go see it again! It's not perfect by any means, but I really liked it. If this is an example of the animeticization of Hollywood, then I say, bring it on. If you like anime, or action movies, or Neon Genesis Evangelion, you should see this movie.

Idris Elba, Rinko Kikuchi, and a bunch of white guys are cancelling the apocalypse )

Anyway. It was great! Go see it.
starlady: (orihime)
Perfect Blue. Dir. Kon Satoshi, 1998.

I watched this the other night and…I was underwhelmed. The animation looks really cheap compared to today's standards, the DVD transfer was pretty bad, and more importantly, I just couldn't escape the feeling that the film I was watching was not the one that Kon was making.

Perfect Blue is the story of ex-small-time pop idol Kirigoe Mima, who decides to transition into being a TV actor and who quickly gets ensnared in the net of a fan-stalker whose harassment causes her to lose her grip on reality. The key moment in Mima's journey is when she agrees to film a rape scene that sets up the entire second half of the TV series she's working on along with the film's efforts to blur reality and delusion. (Anime is particularly good at this, since you can--and Kon does--reuse entire sequences, changing only the voice acting. The voice acting, by the way, sounded like a who's who of '90s anime.) I don't know what Kon wanted us to think of Mima's decisions to sacrifice her own physical and mental integrity for her career, but I couldn't stop thinking of Abigail Nussbaum's post Women and Horses, about the cost of doing business on cable dramas and how women's bodies are the currency of that business. I can't, because of that, read the denouement of Mima's story as anything particularly happy.

And, frankly, I hated that the demented fan-stalker was so hideous, and the eventual reveal about Mima's manager seemed to be another element in the story that Kon didn't know he was telling, the one about the patriarchy exploiting women for entertainment - both in the film, and then, on a meta-level, outside it, as we the audience partake of MIma's psychological breakdown for our own gratification - and then abandoning them when their bodies are no longer up to snuff. Blech. I'll stick to Paprika.

Also, on a much more superficial level, mainstream Japanese fashion in the '90s was terrible.
starlady: Raven on a MacBook (Default)
Well, I'm back. California is beautiful, for the record, and despite some baggage folderol secondary to SEA being one of the most inefficient airports I have ever encountered (and that's saying something), my travel was pretty good. I even saved the $50 baggage fee Alaska was supposed to charge me, which I suppose is a virtue of experience. And learned paranoia.

So Parallels 2011! I wrote Turning and Turning, a Toki wo Kakeru Shoujo fic for [archiveofourown.org profile] person. 2800 words, Makoto/Chiaki/Kousuke.

And on that note…


Toki wo Kakeru Shôjo | The Girl Who Leapt Through Time. Dir. Hosoda Mamoru, 2006.

In a strange, tangential way, this movie reminds me a lot of Utena--no, not for the plot, but for certain plot elements and the way that damn piano music accentuates absolutely everything, because if I learned one thing from Utena--well, I learned a lot of things from Utena, but one of them was that genteel piano music is totally appropriate for totally creepy things, and this movie is, for most of the way through, a horror story.

To back up, this is Hosoda Mamoru's first movie, adopted from a 1967 novel by Tsutsui Yasutaka. Hosoda's Summer Wars remains one of the best anime movies I've seen in the past few years, and Toki wo Kakeru Shôjo is also quite good. I'm not sure which is the stronger movie; I like Summer Wars better in all honesty, but that's entirely subjective.

Mild spoilers )

It says a lot that, living in Japan, I look at that damn bag of peaches Makoto carries around and think, "Damn, that's like ¥3000 or ¥4000 worth of fruit!"

I think my contention that the movie has horror elements is borne out by the AMVs that have been made from it. In particular, Maniaki's award-winning Paranoia Drift is very subtly creepy (and also excellent). DL and streaming at the link.

Originally posted at Dreamwidth Studios; you can comment there using OpenID or a DW account.
starlady: Sheeta & Pazu watch the world open out before them (think in layers)
Well, I'm back. California is beautiful, for the record, and despite some baggage folderol secondary to SEA being one of the most inefficient airports I have ever encountered (and that's saying something), my travel was pretty good. I even saved the $50 baggage fee Alaska was supposed to charge me, which I suppose is a virtue of experience. And learned paranoia.

So Parallels 2011! I wrote Turning and Turning, a Toki wo Kakeru Shoujo fic for [archiveofourown.org profile] person. 2800 words, Makoto/Chiaki/Kousuke.

And on that note…


Toki wo Kakeru Shôjo | The Girl Who Leapt Through Time. Dir. Hosoda Mamoru, 2006.

In a strange, tangential way, this movie reminds me a lot of Utena--no, not for the plot, but for certain plot elements and the way that damn piano music accentuates absolutely everything, because if I learned one thing from Utena--well, I learned a lot of things from Utena, but one of them was that genteel piano music is totally appropriate for totally creepy things, and this movie is, for most of the way through, a horror story.

To back up, this is Hosoda Mamoru's first movie, adopted from a 1967 novel by Tsutsui Yasutaka. Hosoda's Summer Wars remains one of the best anime movies I've seen in the past few years, and Toki wo Kakeru Shôjo is also quite good. I'm not sure which is the stronger movie; I like Summer Wars better in all honesty, but that's entirely subjective.

Mild spoilers )

It says a lot that, living in Japan, I look at that damn bag of peaches Makoto carries around and think, "Damn, that's like ¥3000 or ¥4000 worth of fruit!"

I think my contention that the movie has horror elements is borne out by the AMVs that have been made from it. In particular, Maniaki's award-winning Paranoia Drift is very subtly creepy (and also excellent). DL and streaming at the link.
starlady: roy in the sunset at graveside (no rest for the wicked)
Hagane no renkinjutsushi: Mirosu no seinaru hoshi | Fullmetal Alchemist: The Sacred Star of Milos. Dir. Murata Kasuya, 2011.

I was, to be quite frank, not expecting very much of of this movie. The last FMA movie, Conqueror of Shangri-La, was a solid B effort with an absolutely infuriating denouement. This movie, however, is set in the midst of the manga storyline (the booklet we were handed when we entered the theater is volume 11.5 of the series) and was pretty kick-ass from beginning to end. It doesn't quite measure up to Arakawa's own storylines, of course, but I was satisfied with the movie all the same. Also, there are werewolves.

Yet another train trip )
All this being said, I still prefer the voice cast of the first anime, particularly for Roy. *ducks rocks and cabbages* I also found it a little odd that he's the one who wound up dispensing the movie's moral lesson, though I suppose he got that role at the end of the first anime too, I can live with it.
starlady: (witness)
You know, I might be the only person in the world still willing to admit this, but I actually liked the Blood + anime. I thought it had a good horror plot, interesting and sympathetic characters and angst, and equally importantly an intelligent take on contemporary imperialism and colonialism and fucked-up global power relations. Spoilers are bloodthirsty )

In conclusion: I think I have better things to do with these 24 minutes every week, but I'll probably hang on for another episode or two to make sure.
starlady: Sheeta & Pazu watch the world open out before them (think in layers)
Hoshi wo Ou Kodomo | Children Who Follow Lost Voices from Deep Below. Dir. Shinkai Makoto, 2011.

This is an awesome, beautiful, sad and moving anime. You will want to see it when you can, and I really enjoyed it a lot. On one level, it's its own strong story, and on the other it's an obvious remake of Castle in the Sky by way of Jules Verne's Journey to the Center of the Earth.

To give what I can of the plot without spoilers: in a rural Japan that could as well be 1960 as 1990 or any time in between, the middle-schooler Asuna lives mostly alone, her father having died and her mother working long and late to support the two of them at a hospital on the other side of town. Asuna spends her time high up in the mountains that shelter her town's valley, tuning in a mysterious music on her home-made radio. When she meets a mysterious boy and strange monsters start popping up around her town, however, she finds herself undertaking a journey in the company of the new teacher at her school, who has secrets of his own.

To see the stars )

So, yes. Rereading my posts on Castle in the Sky and a failed remake of it, Steamboy, I think that another area where Hoshi wo Ou Kodomo (literally "Children Who Follow the Stars", because the underworld sky has no stars) succeeds and goes one better than its source is Asuna again; she takes the initiative and she's always the protagonist in this story, whose bravery and courage impress the people around her and who is ultimately endangered as much by her compassion as by anything else and whose grief is always present with her even as she learns to bear up under it. There's no question of her being interpretable as passive, as Sheeta was, and she's anything but dispassionate, like Scarlett O'Hara was in Steamboy. I ♥ Asuna, seriously.
starlady: Sheeta & Pazu watch the world open out before them (think in layers)
Kon Satoshi has died at the age of 47. Rumor says the cause was cancer, according to news agencies & his New York Times obituary.

Via @alexleavitt on Twitter, I think this post at Subatomic Brainfreeze says it best, both in regards to what Kon had done already and in what we could have expected from him in the future. Hopefully his final feature film will be released at some point.

This definitely means there should be a panel on his anime at Wiscon next year.

starlady: (ultraviolet)
Occult Academy 04-05
Gotta pay off that car loan! )

DTB OVA 04
The Reaper can't die, but he can get tired of watching everyone else die.

The OVAs were quite good, I think. I really want to rewatch Meteor Twins now--it's funny how the OVAs are set before the second series, but were released after them, so they don't have to introduce any of the continuing characters. Most of whom die in the end, it being DTB. And knowing what's coming doesn't make watching Hei's abrupt slide into a drunken stringer for the CIA any easier, either.

I would love more of this anime; I really hope they do wind up producing a third season.

Code Geass R2 09-11
Yes, shut up, I never finished this anime. But all the awesome AMVs at Otakon have inspired me to do so.
Yes, Your Highness. )
starlady: Hei in the trees + text saying "in the TREES" (this is an in-joke)
It's all [personal profile] inkstone's fault that I'm watching this. Thanks!

The truth lies in that which is hidden from your eyes. )

So, in conclusion, I like that this show has the occult and time travel and aliens. It is the triathlete of wacky anime! By way of Haruhi, of course.
starlady: Sheeta & Pazu watch the world open out before them (think in layers)
LaMarre, Thomas. The Anime Machine: A Media Theory of Animation. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2009.

I'm going to pound this out while I wait for my dad to get home so we can go to the shore. Landmark book of animanga scholarship in half an hour or less: go!

Disclaimer: I am personally acquainted with Tom Lamarre; he wrote one of my reccomendation letters for my graduate school applications.

Tom Lamarre's overarching concern in The Anime Machine is polemical; as I've discussed at greater length before, he has a bone to pick with the vast majority of (English-language) anime and manga scholarship heretofore, namely that people tend to focus on the minutiae of narratives over technical means and that in these narratives, moreover, people go looking for and thus find some sort of amodern, tautological Other "(traditional) Japanese culture" or whatever. In defiance of this tendency, Lamarre insists on reading anime as what it is, a carefully calculated global entertainment phenomenon, and on looking not at what anime talks about but how it talks, how it thinks, what it does.

How anime thinks technology )
starlady: Holmes + Watson, steam + punk (steampunk heroes)
Steamboy. Dir. Ootomo Katsuhiro, 2004.

Yeah, it's pretty sad that Ootomo Katsuhiro spent ten years trying to revise Castle in the Sky and not only failed to improve on it, but also failed to make a decent movie.

Oh tell me, why--do we build castles in the sky? )
starlady: Sheeta & Pazu watch the world open out before them (think in layers)
First, via [livejournal.com profile] corneredangel, Mia Lewis on the use of ateji (kanji/okurigana divergence) in manga by CLAMP. Fascinating paper looks fascinating.


Tenkuu no shiro Laputa | Castle in the Sky.
Dir. Miyazaki Hayao. Studio Ghibli, 1986.

I've forgotten how epic and awesome this movie is. It's really beautiful too, in a way that's somewhat ineffable.

Tou-san ga nokoshita atsui omoi )
starlady: (akidzuki)
Summer Wars. Dir. Hosoda Mamoru, 2009.

Summer Wars tells the story of Kenji, a young math geek who takes a part-time job pretending to be his older classmate Natsuki's boyfriend for her grandmother's 90th birthday party and accompanies her out to the family seat in Nagano prefecture (significant because the Jinnouchi family descends from people who backed the wrong side in Japan's wars of unification, and the losers had to decamp to some pretty remote places; Nagano's actually comparatively central). Kenji's other part-time job is as a code monkey for OZ, the global massively multi-person online environment which has grown to include over one-sixth of the world population. It's Google's cloud Chromium, with a few more amenities and better accessibiilty. When Kenji decrypts OZ's 2056-bit encryption key unknowingly, by hand, he comes under suspicion as the person behind a hacker A.I. that swiftly mounts a coup d'etat in OZ.

The Wired is real.  )
starlady: Sheeta & Pazu watch the world open out before them (think in layers)
Hoshi no koe | Voices of a Distant Star. Dir. Shinkai Makoto, 2002.

It's fitting that the first line of the first anime done in the sekai-kei style questions in its very first words what world (sekai) actually means.

I love Makoto Shinkai's skyscapes; they outshine even his landscapes, which are breathtakingly beautiful. I read a paper about Shinkai's anime, I think it was in Mechademia vol. 1, that argued that Shinkai's anime, and the anime of the sekai-kei school, consistently present worlds (plural very much intended) in which characters are separate but connected--they transcend distance, first by technology and then simply by affect, which persists across distance and time even after the characters themselves have lost all actual connection. It's like that line in the Ashberry poem: "We are together at last,/but far apart." 

I think Hoshi no koe encapsulates a lot of Shinkai's themes handily; in some ways the chronological gap Mikako and Noboru endure is just a literalization of the process of growing apart as part of growing up that characters in his other anime like Kumo no mukou, yakusoku no basho and 5cm per second experience (and in space travel time literally becomes distance; they are the same). And despite the fact that Shinkai's anime are completely digital I really do think that his anime, and the sekai-kei school in general, really are the apotheosis of Tom Lamarre's anime-as-layers theory: the entire anime is a process of moving through and across layers: in the first sequence Mikako and Noboru, on his bike (girl on the back of the boy's bike! hello Ghibli films!) look up through the sky to space beyond it, through all of which layers Mikako begins to move, while the train in the foreground separates Noboru from his terrestrial destination (much the same way as rain, snow, cherry blossom petals separate the characters from the viewer). It's no accident that Lamarre in The Anime Machine focuses almost exclusively on Castle in the Sky, and that the same movie is Shinkai's favorite anime.


Tonari no Yamada-kun | My Neighbors the Yamadas. Dir. Takahata Isao: Studio Ghibli, 1999.

So it turns out that there was one other minor Ghibli film I hadn't seen, because I didn't even realize it existed. Tonari no Yamada-kun is a meandering, slice-of-life drama about a typical Japanese family's quotidian trials and tribulations. The most notable thing about it is the animation style, which is extremely flattened and cartoon-like. I find it notable that Miyazaki Hayao talks about making "manga movies" but that this is the Ghibli film that comes closest to looking like a comic strip (I liked the permanently unimpressed dog particularly). The movie is charming, and also really funny; I was laughing out loud at multiple points, which is something that rarely happens to me with anime. Definitely worth a watch, particularly for people interested in conversational Japanese.
starlady: (bang)
I wrote the following for one of the two history classes I took in college in spring 2006. I'm still really pleased with it.


Samurai Stew: History and Anime in Edo

“…Yet there is something that’s special, that one ingredient that makes it a stew. And do you know what that is?”
“The meat?”
“That’s what everyone says. The meat. But that same meat could be used for anything. Curry, goulash, it’s the same ingredients.
It’s the stew mix that makes it a stew.”
Cowboy Bebop: Knocking on Heaven’s Door

To the average person outside of Japan, one of the most familiar images of the country is undoubtedly that of the samurai. While the age of the samurai lasted approximately 700 years, from roughly 1185 to 1876 CE, these stereotypical images are almost always drawn from the early-modern Edo period (1603-1867), when Japanese society was “frozen,” at least according to official ideology, in the patterns it had acquired in the sixteenth century and before.

One of the primary vehicles for constructing this image of Japan, both in Japan and abroad, is that of the moving image. Anime & history in Edo )
starlady: Hei poised to strike at sunset (sunset before the fall)
I think I just need to accept that I won't be able to read everything I want to read for Wiscon before Wiscon. But hope springs eternal.

House of Five Leaves 1 - 3
Even if I hadn't looked at the website I could have told you that this is based on an Ikki manga, based simply on a) the slow pace and b) the extraterrestrial character design. Based solely on the scene in the second episode where Akitsu follows Yaichi to the shitamachi and then walks into a pole thinking about him, I predict many Yaichi/Akitsu doujinshi at Comiket this summer (also because Yaichi is hot, and says he finds Akitsu interesting. I will take his word for it). I like the characters, though. And they're making quite a lot of money on these kidnappings, even if this is middle Edo when the currency's metal content started dropping. Not surprisingly, I think Yaichi is my favorite. Also, the subtitling is pretty good. Also, look at Edo with its canals and moats and bridges! I never realized how thoroughly such things have been eradicated from contemporary Japanese cities until I went to one (Yanagawa) that has retained them. Also, looks like Seinoshin is making some wrong assumptions. We'll see.

Darker Than BLACK: Ryuusei no Gemini 12
The end! I liked it, though as usual I value the ending just as much for what it suggests about what happens after as for what it actually shows happening. I was glad about what happened to Hei, and Misaki's boss turned unexpectedly awesome at the end (WTF happened to him? holy crap!), as did Madam Oreille and her flying car, FTW. I was less pleased about Suou and July, though I don't want to privilege the copy over the original; Hei doesn't, and I think we ought to follow his lead. The Americans occupying Tokyo injected an interesting (and pointed) political note, too. I'll have to rewatch with subs at some point.
starlady: Sheeta & Pazu watch the world open out before them (think in layers)
Kiki's Delivery Service | Majo no takkyubin. Dir. Miyazaki Hayao: Studio Ghibli, 1989.

This is the last of the major Studio Ghibli films that I hadn't seen--the only Ghibli films I haven't, in point of fact, are the minor Umi ga kikoeru and Omohide poroporo, (For the record, we don't talk about Gedo senki around here.)

In some ways this movie is the most flight-obsessed of all the Ghibli movies, though of course this is arguable; flight is a central motif in Ghibli, maybe the central motif. I really do enjoy the way Ghibli presents flying, too, and girls' relation to it; in this movie in particular the gender divide is stark, as Tombo notes when he wishes that he had been born into a witch family so that he could fly naturally, rather than only with the aid of ungainly technology. Indeed, Kiki's ontological ease with flying, and the fact that it's her talent and her livelihood, makes the disappearance of her powers of magic and flight all the more wrenching, and the climax all the better; she has found herself again, and won a place in her town's heart doing it. ("Look, up in the sky! That's not a bird, it's a girl! No, it's Kiki!")

In some ways too this movie also seems to be the most female-centric of the Ghibli corpus: Kiki derives her powers from her mother, it's the female baker Osono who gives Kiki her room, Kiki's customers are almost all women, and it's the painter Ursula who helps Kiki deal with her depression when she does lose her power. Even Jiji, a male cat, is voiced by a woman in the Japanese version (as is standard in Japanese animation)--and in the Japanese version Kiki does not regain the ability to talk to him, significantly. Despite Miyazaki putting Kiki on the back of Tombo's bike in that one scene, I really did enjoy the movie's presentation of one girl's struggle to find her independence, and her eventual success at it.

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