Double feature

Most of Satoshi Kon’s works are long out of print and are generally only available at extortionate prices or through irregular channels. However, Paramount Pictures is currently streaming Millennium Actress, his most approachable movie, for free. That’s it above.

Meanwhile, Michaël Dudok de Wit’s The Red Turtle has been acquired for North America. Will it come to Wichita? We can hope, but I doubt it.

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Somatic perfection

Francis W. Porretto on Ghost in the Shell:

Ghost In The Shell is the absolute pinnacle of its art form. There’s nothing else in the anime oeuvre to compare with it, especially as regards graceful writing and philosophical depth. Masamune Shirow will be remembered for centuries for the story. The makers of the anime can be justly proud of the finished work. That Hollywood should choose to make a live-action version is merely additional praise of the original.

So what is this SJW concerned about? That central character Motoko Kusanagi, a round-eyed, big-bosomed cyborg, will be played by round-eyed, big-bosomed Scarlett Johansson, one of the foremost female action stars of today. “Whitewashing!” “Racial exclusion!” “Cultural appropriation!” “Insert your preferred SJWism here!”

These…persons deserve nothing but contempt. They’re the true bigots and squanderers of cultural treasures – all cultural treasures. That a brilliant piece of anime, known mainly to devotees of the art form, should be picked up by a major Hollywood studio and cast with a terrific, somatically perfect leading lady is an act of high praise…but no! “The character has a Japanese name!” Therefore, by SJW rules, she must be played by a Japanese actress. Failing that, at least one with an epicanthic fold.

Anyone who grants these cretins the smallest sliver of time or shred of respect is doing a disservice to the entire human race.

I wouldn’t say that the first Ghost in the Shell movie is incomparable in its philosophical depth — there’s Serial Experiments Lain, at least — but it is a superior work, and the remake, if competently done, should lead its more adventurous viewers to seek out the animated version.

First impressions, spring 2016

Character study

Tanaka-kun Is Always Listless — So listless, in fact, that his friend Ohta often picks him up and carries him over his shoulder. However lazy Tanaka is physically, though, his mind is active, at least until he falls asleep. It’s a one-joke show, but it has remained entertaining through three episodes with the introductions of Tanaka’s quirky classmates.

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Sakura, sakura

Okame cherry

Here’s a handy schedule of expected cherry blossom bloom times, in case you should be heading to Japan during the next few months. If you can’t go to Japan, you can visit the botanical garden in Wichita, where the Okame cherry, above, has just started flowering.

The Japanese apricot is in full bloom now. Thanks to new construction and landscaping, it is no longer possible to get close to tree, but you don’t need to get close to appreciate its powerful fragrance.

Prunus mume

Mind your head

Potential ouchie

Some aspects of GATE are not well thought-out, e.g., the girls’ armor. What purpose do the pointed projections on the pauldrons serve? If one of the warrior maidens tilts her head to the side, she’s liable to pierce her ear or worse. Also, I don’t recall ever seeing any of the girls with helmets, even in the middle of battles. It may be that on the far side of the gate women’s skulls are so thick and dense that head protection is superfluous, but I am skeptical.

Forgot your helmet?

A tale of 1970 2070

Aside from GATE, none of the current shows that I’ve sampled thus far are worth mentioning. Fortunately, Crunchyroll this week added one I can unreservedly recommend, Shingu. Tatsuo Sato has directed much noteworthy anime, including Martian Successor Nadesico and Mouretsu Pirates (both recommended), and Shingu is his best. It’s long been one of my favorites, and I’ve probably rewatched it more often than any other show, anime or not. If none of the new series catch your interest, spend a little time with Hajime and his family and friends, human and alien, in quiet town of Tenmo.

Here’s Ubu on what didn’t happen when Shingu was made.

Timely note

This year's calendar

Every January I visit the calendar shop at the regional shopping mall and pick up a few at half-price to provide a variety of art on my walls for the coming year. This year, I struck out. Everything of any interest was gone — no medieval or renaissance art, no pre-Raphaelites, no Edward Gorey, not even Ansel Adams. There were plenty of puppies, of course, but I prefer dogs as friends, not as artistic subjects. Fortunately, I earlier ordered this year’s Girls und Panzer calendar, so I do have a way to keep track of passing time.

January and February

Although there are only six pages (seven if you count the cover), they are poster-sized, 24″ tall (including the binding strip at the top) and 16.5″ wide. (Right-click and open the links in new windows to see the images at high resolution.)

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Demon cats and other holiday fun

Such a sweet smile
So it’s Halloween, and you’d like to watch some spooky anime, preferably available online legally for free? There are some suggestions here, but there are other series I prefer. For monsters, there’s the currently-airing Ushio and Tora. For Shinto 101 and yokai, there’s Natsume Yuujin-cho. But my first choice is Mononoke, Kenji Nakamura‘s first series and still his best. The medicine seller’s investigations are as much moral detective stories as horror shows, informed by a stringent sense of justice. If you merely want to be scared out of your wits, there are many other shows to choose from, but if you want a work of art worth rewatching and thinking about, try Mononoke.

The medicine seller