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Ghost Dive: Your essential primer to Ghost in the Shell

Jan 14 // Josh Tolentino
The Basics Ghost in the Shell is best known as a 1995 film directed by Mamoru Oshii, but it originated in 1989, as a manga written and illustrated by Masamune Shirow. Since then, several more sequels and adaptations have been produced, including several TV series, manga, and an in-development Hollywood film starring Scarlett Johanssen.  Though never lacking for action-packed gunfights and high-tech mecha designs - particularly the iconic spider-legged "think tanks" - Ghost in the Shell distinguished itself from its "Japanimation" peers by having a philosophical edge. Storylines in Ghost in the Shell frequently tackled larger issues of transhumanism, the nature of consciousness and perception, and the effects of networks and the internet on human society. Even today some of the arguments and dilemmas raised seem timely.  Ghost in the Shell's various works can be organized into four broad categories, corresponding to the original manga by Masamune Shirow, the feature-film adaptations directed by Mamoru Oshii, the Standalone Complex TV series, and the Arise movie series. While not related directly, all Ghost in the Shell works share common themes, and star "Major" Motoko Kusanagi, team leader of Public Security Section 9, a black-ops unit of the near-future Japanese government. The Major and her peers work in a world where cyborg technology is common and "cyberbrains" enable people to access the internet at will, as well as hack everything from senses to memories, giving rise to all manner of new challenges. The Essentials Ghost in the Shell (1995 film) If you're only going to watch one Ghost in the Shell-titled work in your lifetime, you may as well make it the one that made the name popular in the first place. Following the Major and her partner Batou as they solve the case of a mysterious hacker known as the Puppet Master, the film replaced the verbose banter and cheery pin-up character designs with stark visuals and a more realistic style to suit a borderline-dour mood. Director Mamoru Oshii's emphasis on Ghost in the Shell's more philosophical aspects helped solidify anime's reputation as a more diverse, adult medium than the traditionally child-targeted cartoons markets outside Japan.   The Ghost in the Shell (1989 Manga) There's nothing quite like source material, and Masamune Shirow's original manga certainly fits the bill. While its art style and approach to characterization definitely dates it as a product of its era, it's hard not to be impressed by Shirow's attention to detail, conveyed in part through the use of copious footnotes explaining everything from the state of the world to the reason why a gun's barrel is a certain length. Most of the cases, themes, characters and subplots used in future adaptations would also show up in one form or another throughout the series. Ghost in the Shell: Standalone Complex (2002 TV series) For many fans, the 1995 film and original manga exist on opposite ends of the tonal spectrum, with the manga being densely constructed and quickly paced, and the film given over to a more contemplative mode. Standalone Complex, produced by famed studio Production I.G. and directed by Mamoru Oshii's protege, Kenji Kamiyama, took a shot at blending the two approaches, and largely succeeded at it. The result is arguably the best representative yet of what makes Ghost in the Shell unique, portraying the Major and Section 9's adventures as an extended cop show of shorts, and leveraging multiple cases to address a wide swath of themes, including the titular "Standalone Complex". The show also took a more political bent, examining philosophical issues from a pragmatic, grounded position, and developed further plots through its second season, titled Standalone Complex 2nd Gig, and the feature-length Solid State Society.  Standalone Complex also serves as the inspiration for the First Assault Online shooter, with abilities and game systems inspired by the Major and Section 9's feats in the series. Further Study Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence (2004 film) A challenging, divisive entry into the canon, Innocence is regarded by some of its critics as the sequel nobody asked for. Set years after the 1995 film, the story doesn't even follow the Major, but her partner Batou and the then-rookie Togusa as they solve a mysterious case involving rampaging androids and human trafficking. More than the lavish, almost surreal visuals and seemingly inconsequential plotting, some fans disliked the even heavier emphasis on philosophy, with long stretches where characters seemed to interact only by quoting philosophers at each other. At the same time, the film is rich in ideas, if not coherence, and serves as interesting viewing, even if it departs from expectations.  Ghost in the Shell 2: Manmachine Interface (2001 manga) If Innocence tried to tell a Ghost in the Shell story without its ostensible protagonist, the Major, Manmachine Interface tries to tell a Ghost in the Shell story using only the Major. Set five years following the events of the original manga, the story of Manmachine Interface both elevates the stakes of those events, while descending into near-incoherence in terms of storytelling. While it's worth reading for fans of the original manga, it also stands out as the closest Ghost in the Shell comes to "overdoing it".   Ghost in the Shell: Arise (2014 film series) and Ghost in the Shell: The New Movie (2015 film) An attempt to refresh Ghost in the Shell for newer, younger audiences, Arise functions as a spiritual prequel of sorts, focusing on the Major as she goes about forming Section 9 itself, and exploring her personal life in greater detail than was typically alluded to in previous works. Between a younger-looking character design, new involvement from Mardock Scramble author Tow Ubukata, and an all-new voice cast, Arise tried to signal newness at every turn, but struggled to differentiate itself in the face of Standalone Complex, failing to reach the highs of that series despite being enjoyable. The Ghost in the Shell (Manga)
Ghost in the Shell Primer photo
Hack some knowledge into your cyberbrain
It's been more than two decades since the original Ghost in the Shell film came out, and the name still resonates as one of the most well-known examples of Japanese anime around. At the same time, it's been quite a while...

Garm Wars photo
Garm Wars

Garm Wars: The Last Druid looks amazing


Pure eye candy
Oct 28
// Hiroko Yamamura
Momoru Oshii screened his latest live-action Production I.G. film, Garm Wars: The Last Druid this week at The Tokyo International Film Fest. The amazing looking film is actually his first English language outing for the vete...
Psycho Pass photo
Can the world stay the same?
Psycho Pass season two is in full swing and as usual, your favorite Editor in Chief is late to the game. So, things kind of pick up right where season one left off, albeit a bit too casually. In fact, the whole episode plays ...

A Letter to Momo photo
A Letter to Momo

A Letter to Momo opens in America this week


Meet up time?
Aug 25
// Hiroko Yamamura
The award winning Production I.G. film A Letter to Momo, is set to hit theaters this week, and with any luck might be hitting your home town. The beautiful looking film has the makings of a classic, and is a tale of a shy ki...

Psycho-Pass photo
Psycho-Pass

New Psycho-Pass movie trailer shows us a lot of nothing


I can't wait til October
Jul 08
// Hiroko Yamamura
I've been waiting patiently for any new information about the upcoming Psycho-Pass film, slated to hit theaters this winter. You can imagine my frustration when the site posted a teaser trailer, that shows us absolutely noth...
HAL photo
Looks pretty
This one seemed have just slipped by me. Studio WIT, which is a subdivision of the mighty Production I.G. has a new animated film coming out, under the unassuming title HAL. The name gives me some serious Space Odyssey flash...

Gargantia photo
Gargantia

Internet Explorer collab lets your browser fly around the Gargantia fleet


A bilingual and open source ad for Internet Explorer
Jun 18
// Jeff Chuang
It's a video game you can play on the browser; it shows off the open source graphics engine Turbulenz. It's called Sky Courier, and this browser game puts you in the seat of apowered glider from Gargantia, in which you have ...

Review: Hal

Apr 29 // Dae Lee
Hal [Blu-ray/DVD Combo]Studio: Production I.G, Wit StudioLicensed by: FUNimationRelease Date: September 2, 2014MSRP: 19.98 The first thing to note is that the art is astounding. Hal is a collection of small, meticulous animations, rendered in exhaustive detail that effectively capture and give life to fleeting, but meaningful, moments. The characters have a natural, hand-painted look to them, and the color palette pops off the screen, full of deep and vibrant colors that create a vividly realized world. The environments have a tangible feeling to them, ornate and full of texture. With such lush visuals, Wit Studio put them to use in service of the story as well. Psychological barriers, doubt, and intimacy are all represented through carefully framed, deliberate shots -- many times without dialogue, as the quiet moments of Hal often speak the loudest. The film opens with Q01, a humanoid robot tasked with consoling and providing therapy to the mentally distraught Kurumi, who has lost all will to live after her boyfriend Hal died tragically in a airplane accident. Awakening in a body that is a perfect replicate of Hal, he is initially met with scorn and rejection from the reclusive Kurumi, who lives in a house overflowing with odd trinkets and handcrafted knickknacks. Looking for clues that could help Kurumi come out of her shell, the narrative sends the two on a journey that teaches them of the simple joys and pains of life, eventually discovering something about themselves and each other that makes a repeated viewing a wholly different and recommended experience. A film about loss is a tough balancing act. Unlike most -- where the death of a character in the beginning of the film is a mere contrivance that gives opportunity for two main protagonists to fall in love and become the dominating focus -- this film never forgets about the deceased, as Hal's role in the past is essential to the current story between our human and robot. The striking contrast between the current Hal, and the Hal that Kurumi once knew, paints a realistic picture of the couple's relationship, full of troubled and complicated moments as well as sweet instances of support and unconditional love. All the subject matter is handled with the proper restraint and maturity that the story needed for it to work, and the result is affecting. Hal is a science fiction story as well as a love story, which seems like an unlikely pairing at first; but the advanced gadgets and technology make sure not to overshadow the grounded events in the story, only revealing itself when necessary. Most items of significance take the shape of things we are familiar with: Rubik's cubes, buttons, giant plastic giraffes. The sci-fi dressing establishes the advanced world they live in, but also reminds the viewer that much of it is still the same world we can relate to and understand. Having a short running time of 60 minutes, the film is devoid of bloat -- but it could leave some viewers wanting more exploration of the themes and characterization. Unfortunately,  it's Kurumi who ends up getting the short stick when it comes to fleshing out the two protagonists by the end of the film upon reflection. While I think that some extra time could have been used to further cement the ideas in Hal and give emotional moments more impact, it's a film that still packs a punch and provides plenty to chew on the more you think about it, even long after you've seen it. Hal is a interesting short film that showcases the talent of Wit Studio, both visually and narratively. It could easily have become a lifeless, shallow vanity project that collapses under its own weight, but Hal managed to overstep that pitfall and executes on making an affecting, bittersweet piece of work that celebrates life. 8.0 – Great. A great example of its genre that everyone should see, regardless of their interest.
Review: Hal photo
"Please, save that child."
Wit Studio is probably best known for their work on the hit anime Attack on Titan, but in stark contrast with high octane action and drama we might associate with Wit, they released a quiet yet ambitious short film OVA, Hal. ...

News photo
News

Production I.G. to adapt Sugiura's Sarasuberi


Studio to team with Colorful's Keichi Hara
Apr 28
// Tim Sheehy
Last week Production I.G. announced plans to team with Colorful's Keiichi Hara for an upcoming animated feature. The film will be an adaption of the acclaimed 80s' historical manga Sarusuberi from the late Hinako Su...

First Impressions: Haikyu!!

Apr 10 // Karen Mead
First, let's get this out of the way "Haikyu!! puts the Jump in Shonen Jump!" There, now you can say you heard it at Jtor first. The premise of this show is that red-haired Hinata loves volleyball, even though he's a bit short. How much does he love volleyball? Imagine how much you love your favorite thing -- be it chocolate fudge cake, walking your golden retriever, or snuggling under a warm blanket with your significant other on a cold night. Well, no matter how much you love that thing, you only love it maybe half as much as Hinata loves spiking volleyballs. Hinata loves spiking volleyballs so much that it arguably crosses the line into mental illness, but hey; to each his own. In fact, Hinata loves volleyball so much that he doesn't let minor details like "My school doesn't even have a boys volleyball team," get in his way. Eventually, a bunch of friends take pity on him (and it is pity) and join together to form a quasi-team, even though they really can't play, and enter a competition -- only to matched up with the tournament favorites in their first match. Serious-business setter Tobio can't believe his school has to play such a sucky team, but he's in for a surprise from Hinata; his reaction to the spunky spiker oscillates between "I hope you die in a fire" and "WHERE have you been all my life!?" and the classic love/hate rivalry is firmly established without a hitch. Of course, this set-up is filled with common sports anime devices: the underdog hero with a huge heart, the snooty rival, the contrast of playing for the love of the game versus playing for glory, etc. But it's not completely rote; for one thing, I appreciated the fact that the old "Just try hard enough and you can win at everything!" trope was trashed pretty much immediately. Plus, Hinata and Tobio's relationship seems to be advancing much faster than usual -- I was expecting it to take 12 episodes before Tobio would even give Hinata the time of day, but one episode in and their rivalry is already well established. The only problem is that I really don't find volleyball that interesting. The show did give me a more favorable impression of it, but my interest level in the sport was at zero, so knocking the score up by +5 didn't really help much. Plus, with the continuing Yowapeda and now Baby Steps, I'm kind of at my maximum level of sports anime consumption -- and Baby Steps, while not as high quality in many respects, has the advantage because tennis is one of the only sports I'm really familiar with. With everything else about the show being really solid, I think the deciding factor for a lot of viewers is going to be whether or not they like volleyball, or if they'd rather watch an anime that covers a different sport; there's certainly enough to choose from these days. Still, if unlike me, you're actually in the market for another athletic anime to round out your viewing schedule, you won't do much better than Haikyu!! It's one of those rare shows that I feel very comfortable recommending, even though I doubt I'll be watching much further.
Haikyu!! photo
Jump like you mean it
If we were ranking these new shows based on animation quality alone, Haikyu!! would be king of the mountain; out of everything I've seen so far this season, only the first episode Captain Earth has better animation...may...

Anime photo
Anime

New two part Gargantia OVA coming fall 2014


Huzzah!
Mar 22
// Elliot Gay
[Update: Added official key visual] We've known for some time that a sequel to 2013's Gen Urobuchi/Kazuya Murata original TV anime, Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet, was in the works. At this weekend's AnimeJapan event, it w...
Blood-C photo
Blood-C

Blood-C summed up in 60 seconds


Yep, that looks right
Mar 03
// Pedro Cortes
You may remember that I wasn't too hot on Blood-C or its sequel, The Last Dark. It really suffers from a listless plot that doesn't do much with its interesting lead character. However, it does have interesting moments, many...
Anime photo
Anime

Moribito added to Neon Alley's mid-season schedule


To begin streaming on January 17th
Jan 08
// Tim Sheehy
Viz Media's streaming network Neon Alley is half way through their fall season of programming. To mark the occasion they'll be adding some new programming to their schedule, starting with the mid-season debut of 2007's M...
Card Captor Sakura photo
Card Captor Sakura

Card Captor Sakura production material books on the way


I want all of them
Dec 11
// Elliot Gay
Card Captor Sakura is one of my top ten favorite anime series of all time. It's charming, heart warming, exciting, and unique in many ways. I personally think it's Clamp's best work. AnimeStyle will be publishing three separa...

Review: Blood C: The Last Dark

Nov 05 // Pedro Cortes
Blood C: The Last Dark [DVD/BD]Studio: Production I.G.Licensed by: FunimationRelease Date: Oct. 22, 2013MSRP: $34:98 [Amazon | RightStuf] Taking place a short time after the rather drastic conclusion of Blood C, The Last Dark begins with Saya’s arrival in Tokyo. All healed up after being shot in the face by Fumito, she’s ready to exact vengeance on the man who turned her life upside down. Unfortunately, it isn’t that simple, as Fumito has managed to escape behind a pair of powerful organizations called Seventh Heaven and Tower. One controls politics in the mortal realm, while the other manipulates things in the realm of demons. Thanks to an encounter with a demon on the subway, Saya hooks up with a different group called SIRRUT. These young hackers are trying to uncover why Seventh Heaven has convinced the Tokyo government to institute a curfew for those under 21, which happens to connect with Saya’s search for Fumito. Kuroto, the money man behind SIRRUT, has a pretty big grudge against Fumito, so he's willing to help Saya find the traitorous bastard. In the end, there’s death, betrayal, a whole lot of blood and Saya gets her revenge...sort of. See, there’s the thing. Saya does get her revenge in so far as justice is delivered to all appropriate parties. However, there’s little satisfaction for the viewer in any of it. For one, the main recipient of said revenge hasn't been around long enough to make any sort of impact, and the way he's dealt with is underwhelming. Then, there’s Fumito, who explains his actions by saying he fell in love with Saya. Now, there could be a place for a creepy, obsessive love that consumed both the villain, his family and the organizations that he manipulated. That would actually be pretty neat. The thing is, that’s not how it plays out. It comes off as a tragic passion that wasn’t meant to be, one that ends with a confession near death. It’s weak, played out and boring. Done correctly, it could've been a solid ending and Saya’s abrupt exit afterwards would made sense. Instead, it peters out, like a sparkler dipped in cup of water. Besides the problems with the story in general, The Last Dark isn’t a bad flick. It looks fantastic, with Production I.G. delivering on the animation and backgrounds. The acting is solid, with Nana Mizuki depicting a bitter, angry Saya on the war path. The members of SIRRUT are pretty forgettable, but at least they don’t wear at the nerves. Mana’s missing father provides a decent amount of pathos, though a lack of time with her (and the way it neatly wraps up) keeps it from having any lasting impact. I was also surprised to find that there are several CLAMP cameos sprinkled throughout the film. There are several Mokonas, as well as an important character from one of their older works that acts as a deus ex machina. I remember from the show that there were hints to his existence, but I was still surprised to see Saya and Mana visit him. Does this mean that Blood C is set in the Blood world or in the CLAMP world? You know what? Never mind. Thinking about it makes my head hurt. I was also a bit disappointed by the lack of action scenes. Based on the show, I was expecting there to be more demon slicing, but I didn’t get that. I got one lone blood-sucker getting shanked in the opening, one truly creepy…thing that Saya fights in the middle, a very quick dog-ish demon and a huge beast at the end of the flick. This is probably a bigger issue for me considering how abrupt and unsatisfying the conclusion was, so keep that in mind. I was also surprised at the lack of collateral damage. When you look back at the slaughter that was the final episode of the show, this movie is positively tame by comparison. If this is indeed the last note for Blood C, it's not a very good one on which to exit. While pretty and decently entertaining, it does little to make up for the deficiencies of the show the preceded it. There are no revelations about Saya’s past, and few hints to her future. Production I.G. had one last chance to redeem this series and they ultimately failed; it’s a disappointing end to something that had potential.   5.0 – Average. This one’s just “okay”. It has many flaws, and just couldn’t follow through on its intentions or had ones that were simply too narrow to warrant consideration. Some will still enjoy it, but should temper their expectations, or perhaps just opt to pass. Watch more trailers and read more reviews before you decide.
Review photo
Last chance for redemption
One of my largest criticisms in my review of Blood C was that it had no definitive ending. Yes, there was a resolution involving most of the characters in town, but it was clear that the show was a 12-episode precursor to the...

Blood C photo
Blood C

Blood C receives animation award


Well, the animation WAS pretty good
Oct 22
// Pedro Cortes
While it isn't a perfect show, Blood C is an alright horror show that looks and sounds solid. It seems that other publications agreed, as the 12 episode program was awarded the 2013 Reaper Award for Best Animation. Presented ...
Ghost in the Shell ARISE photo
Ghost in the Shell ARISE

Ghost in the Shell ARISE border 2: Ghost Whispers trailer


Explosions, gun play, and lots of CG
Oct 18
// Elliot Gay
While not without problems, I enjoyed the first entry of Ghost in the Shell ARISE.  I've always been a big GitS fan, and though ARISE made some odd changes (voice actors, character designs), on the whole it felt like a ...
Psycho-Pass photo
Psycho-Pass

Psycho-Pass will continue!


Maybe Shinya's hair will get messy?
Sep 09
// Hiroko Yamamura
One of my highlights of this past year was definitely the gritty sci-fi series, Psycho-Pass. The Production I.G. hit brought a lot of Western sensibility as well as some lovely gory moments to the mysterious show. While thin...
Psycho-Pass 0 photo
Psycho-Pass 0

Listen closely to Psycho-Pass 0


Sounds like fun!
Aug 05
// Hiroko Yamamura
I never really got into audio books. I tried to use them when cramming in college, but would always find myself skipping tracks to something more interesting. If there is any sure fire way to get to sleep, try playing an aud...
Kick-Heart photo
Kick-Heart

Kick-Heart gets an award kicked its way


Definitely not a kick-back
Jul 30
// Josh Tolentino
Who says good things don't get recognized in today's society, eh? A definite Good Thing, Kick-Heart, the Kickstarter-funded pro-wrestling anime affair from Masaaki Yuasa and Production I.G., has just gotten the nod from New ...

Friday Night Fights: Grace vs Momo

Jul 19 // Salvador G Rodiles
Friday Night Fights photo
Squirrel Battle!
*ding, ding, ding* It's Over! The crowd was roaring last week, and kicks were flying all over the place! Chun-Li and Chie were both decimating the J-tor Arena as their foots clashed gloriously. As the tide of victory was goin...

TRIGGER Kickstarter photo
Studio TRIGGER knocks their KS goal out of the park.
In less than six hours, TRIGGER reached the goal of $150,000 on their Little Witch Academia 2 Kickstarter project. While this certainly doesn't break any KS records, it is nonetheless a huge victory for fans of animation and ...

Yamato 2199 Dub photo
Yamato 2199 Dub

AX '13: Yamato 2199 getting English dub


We Star Blazers now
Jul 07
// Josh Tolentino
Hey, remember Star Blazers, the English incarnation of Space Battleship Yamato? Well, it's back! Sort of. Production I.G. and its partners are apparently opting to take advantage of Star Blazers' greater recognition in the w...

Final Impressions: Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet

Jul 07 // Elliot Gay
While the final episode of Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet wasn't as explosively crowd pleasing as episode 12, it still delivered plenty of action. Chamber's battle against Striker, despite primarily using CG to render the combatants, was filled with dynamic choreography and mid-air posing. Animator Yoshimichi Kameda got to put his skills on display again, with some fantastic effects, posing, and layout work. Specifically, I found the point at which Striker was pulling Chamber through the sky via cable to have a really unique sense of spacing and speed. There was some off-model art and animation present, but much like the rest of the series, it was kept to a minimum. This was a good looking finale. The real focus of the episode however was on Ledo and his journey coming full circle. At the start of Gargantia, we were introduced to a military man who thought through things logically rather than emotionally. He was just a cog in the machine, ready and willing to carry out orders without needing an explanation. Ledo's life on the Gargantia, episode by episode, caused him to slowly make strides toward understand Amy and her people. By the time he decides to accompany Pinion to kill the whale squids, he's doing the wrong thing, but for what he believes are the right reasons. Ledo is no longer killing the creatures out of loyalty to his higher ups. He's doing the dirty deed because he wants to protect the Gargantia, Amy, and all of the people he's come to know over his time on Earth.  The straw that breaks the camel's back of course is the realization that the whale squids are just another evolutionary path for humanity. The entire conflict that Ledo had built his very existence upon, that had taken his brother from him, was just another chapter in the long history of humanity and war. While this isn't enough to crush his loyalty completely, it does cause him to finally take a step back and rethink everything he thought he knew. Of course, the reappearance of commander Kugel, in a Heart of Darkness-like twist, complicates things further. Despite his internal struggle, when faced with his old commanding officer, Ledo ends up blindly following orders. Or at least that was what Striker had assumed would happen. At the end of the day though, Gargantia's entire narrative focus has always been on Ledo and whether or not he'd be able to make the right decision. After witnessing a group of innocent people get murdered by the system he was born and raised in, he realizes that, commanding officer or not, Kugel's way of thinking is unnecessary in this new world. Ledo finally understandss that there's no reason to force that life on the people of Earth; they don't need it, nor do they want it. This comes full circle when he stands against Striker in a bid to save Pinion's people and protect the Gargantia, even if it means his own death. Amy of course factors into this as the singular person who reached out to Ledo when he was nothing more than a foreign presence. She showed him unnecessary kindness, and a desire to sincerely help him find a way when there was arguably no benefit to doing so (in her case). Ledo breaking into tears is a clear reflection of regret as much as it's his sadness overflowing; he regrets not being able to be with Amy. Earlier in the episode he claims that he doesn't belong on Earth, with the people of Gargantia, but by the end, he essentially admits that even he doesn't really believe that. Does it matter that Ledo didn't deal the decisive final blow? Not really. It was never about Ledo sticking it to the man. It was about him coming to grips with himself, his new life, and what he wanted to do. As for Chamber, much in the way that Striker embodied the will of her master, Chamber also grew with his pilot. He recognizes that his presence is no longer required, and does the logical thing to the very end.  Gargantia's story doesn't doing anything special or unique, but it makes up for that through its consistency and the clearness of its main arc. I would have loved to spend more time with the supporting cast; what we did get was interesting and a lot of fun. I also would have been perfectly satisfied with a more slice of life approach as well. As a 13 episode series however, I feel like Gargantia accomplished what it set out to do, even if it perhaps stretched itself a little too thin. Murata has proven himself to be a talented new director, and I personally can't wait to see what he tackles next.  Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet is the kind of show that I feel comfortable recommending to people who don't watch anime all that much. It's brief, it's to the point, and goddamn does it look great.
FI: Gargantia photo
It's like Water World, except not really.
Full Metal Alchemist: Sacred Star of Milos was a much better film than anybody ever expected it to be. Kazuya Murata's first animated feature, Milos was a beautiful looking feature that felt like a substantial side story in t...

Genshiken trailer photo
Genshiken trailer

It's almost time to see our Genshiken pals again!


This summer best not disappoint!
Jun 26
// Hiroko Yamamura
All members of The Society for the Study of Modern Visual Culture please stand up! It seems like the wait has been forever, but Genshiken: Second Season is almost upon us! The always amazing Production I.G. are running the s...
GITS Arise preview photo
GITS Arise preview

The first 8 minutes of Ghost in the Shell Arise rise up


Or should I say 'arise'?
Jun 14
// Josh Tolentino
Hankering for another dose of Ghost in the Shell and schlocky Microsoft Surface promos aren't enough to do the job? Bandai and Production IG have just the thing for you! How about eight full minutes of Ghost in the Shell Ari...

Review: Blood-C

May 21 // Pedro Cortes
Blood C: Complete Series (Blu-ray/DVD Combo)Studio: Production IGLicensed by FunimationRelease Date: Jan 22, 2012MSRP: $65.98 For detailed descriptions , you can check out the Annotated Anime from the time, as well as my Final Impressions. In short, Blood C is about a high school girl named Saya, who hunts down and kills blood thirsty demons called Aged Ones in her small town. Besides the demon slaying, Saya has to maintain an otherwise normal life. However, things start to not add up, including some Aged Ones that seem to recognize her…and people in the town don't exactly act normal…and people that should be dead reappear. Hmm, conspiracy is a foot!  Rewatching Blood C did little to change my over all opinion of the show. There are still some serious pacing issues and the final surprise seems to come from nowhere. Yeah, it was a great punch in the gut, but it would've been better if the seeds for betrayal sprouted earlier. That said, when Blood C is at it's best, it's a bloody good time. Gory fights with an attractive girl slicing and dicing demons? That's all I really ask from in this world. Oh, and that last episode still makes as big as an impact as it did the first time I saw it. Due to the fact that this release is uncensored, it's worse than before. The squeamish might not enjoy certain parts of this show. While the violence of the last episode still makes an impact, the poor ending also still irritates. To find out what Saya does after she discovers what's going on, you're going to need to watch the Blood C movie.   While Blood C doesn't quite satisfy with its story, it does well enough in a few places. I found the show to look fantastic. The city looks beautiful as Saya walks between her home and school, with tons of bright colors and vibrant life. On top of that, I still feel that CLAMP's character design fits this world and, to a certain extent, adds a certain dissonance with the blood and gore. The music is also suitably gentle while Saya does her day job and tense while she fights the Aged Ones. Of the many problems that exist in Blood C, technical issues are not one of them.  In terms of acting, Blood C isn't a particularly great series for any actor. Nana Mizuki, Saya's seiyuu, has to do most of the heavy lifting and she does a serviceable job. However, the rest of the cast is pretty weak. The only exception is during the final two episodes, where some of the actors get a chance to switch things up. On the dub side of things, the acting is on par, if not better than the original. Fans of either format will be pleased. There are also two commentaries with members of the English cast and crew, one for episode six and the other for episode 12. It's fun to hear their banter during some rather serious moments, though I'd recommend waiting until you've finished the show before listening. Overall, I'd say that Blood C is a good show that gets shackled by pacing issues. While the particular things that get introduced during the slow bits of the show pay off in the end, it makes the whole show drag and feel way too long. However, those with patience will find some good in all of this. Not only that, but the music and animation are well done and make good use of high def set ups. Fans of CLAMP, horror and things of a general messed up nature would likely enjoy Blood C, though be aware that a movie is needed to finish the whole story. Score: 6.5 - Okay. (6’s are flawed, but still enjoyable. These titles may not have attempted to do anything special or interesting, but they are nonetheless enjoyable. These typically make great rental fodder or bargain grab.)
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