Some of you may remember that I picked up several special treats on my visit to the Ghibli Museum in November. Chief among them was the Blu-ray of the Kazuo Oga Exhibition: Ghibli No Eshokunin – The One Who Painted Totoro’s Forest. It was something I’d been planning to grab ever since I knew I’d be visiting the museum, but it wasn’t until this weekend that I finally managed to sit down and watch it. If you’ve ever seen any of the major Ghibli releases, then you’re already familiar with Oga-san’s work and his lovingly hand painted backgrounds that have brought films such as My Neighbour Totoro and Princess Mononoke to life. Quite frankly he is the very best in the business – quite possibly the greatest animation background artist of all time – and this disc, in it’s very elegant and typically Ghibli way, shows you exactly why.
Michiko to Hatchin is yet another anime series with expectations to live up to. Producing studio Manglobe has formed a fierce reputation for itself in the six short years since it’s conception, already delivering stylish, innovative shows such as Samurai Champloo and Ergo Proxy, both of which had also benefited from Sayo Yamamoto‘s impressive storyboarding skills. M&H marks her directorial debut, but she’s also got some impressive staff to back her up. Most notable is character designer Hiroshi Shimizu, who has an insane CV that includes The Girl Who Leapt Through Time, Jin-Roh – The Wolf Brigade, Ghost in The Shell: Stand Alone Complex and Metropolis. Oh, and don’t forget his stint at Ghibli as a key animator, which saw him working on classics such as Princess Mononoke, Pom Poko and Porco Rosso among others. And did I mention that minor deity Champloo and Cowboy Bebop creator Shinichirō Watanabe acted as music producer for the series?
I’m not usually someone that indulges too much in nostalgia, especially for the 1980s. But I cannot deny the mounting excitement I’ve been feeling over the last couple of months, knowing that the original Star Fleet/X-Bomber Ｘボンバ TV series was to be finally given an official DVD launch in the UK. One of the reasons I usually avoid nostalgia is the almost inevitable feelings of disappointment that are associated with it – anyone that’s gone back and played a retro video game from around that time only to realise that their rose-tinted spectacles are broken will understand exactly what I mean. The question is does Star Fleet suffer the same fate nearly 30 years later?
It looks like Bandai have put a lot of time in and money into the imminent Akira Blu-ray, hopefully putting to rest the fears of fans worldwide that it might be yet another quick transfer. According to Blu-ray.com, although the film had a full restoration for it’s 2001 DVD release, no punches have been pulled for it’s 20th anniversary, with the focus being moved onto remastering the score and soundtrack:
Some exciting news for Ghibli fans: Spirited Away director and animation god Hayao Miyazaki is creating another manga. Although it’s by no means a first, it is a relatively rare event, with the legendary artist preferring to concentrate on his celluloid based work. What is most exciting is that it is another series for Japanese hobby magazine Model Graphix, and as such see’s Miyazaki returning to his intricate mechanical designs, as Ghibli World explains:
As you can probably imagine, I constantly have a lot of anime waiting to be watched. Some of it is brand new recently broadcast shows, others entire series from years ago that I’m still trying to catch up with. However, cursed as I am with a job and a life, decisions have to be made as to which shows I follow and review, and which I just reject straight away. Usually watching one or two episodes is enough to tell, but occasionally shows come along that although they don’t earn my full attention, I can see they may still have something to offer to viewers. So, in the first of a regular series, I present a round up of first episodes you might want to check out.
…in Japan of course. Although director Michael Arias was born in the US, he’s been living in Tokyo for over 15 years, and Heaven’s Door is again shot completely in Japanese. I was impressed with Arias’ intelligence and attitude after watching the extras on the Tekkon Kinkreet Blu-ray, so look forward to seeing this at some point in the future. The Daily Yomiuri has the details:
There was a point, just a few minutes into the second half of the first episode of RideBack, when I finally decided that it was the first show I’d seen worth following this year. As the main protagonist races her fusion of motorcycle and mecha through her college campus, her skirt bellows in the wind and we hear a passer-by shout “I saw her panties!”. But we, the audience, see nothing. It’s a brief moment, but one that speaks volumes about the series’ intentions.
As you have probably already guessed from the title, Sword of the Stranger is a Samurai action (or chanbara チャンバラ) movie, and the feature film debut of Masahiro Ando, who’s previous directorial work includes the TV series Canaan as well as being a key animator on projects such as Cowboy Bebop, Ghost in The Shell and Planetes. It’s an impressive CV, no doubt about it, and one that means expectations from both the industry and fans are high.
Some interesting news that could feasibly affect the future of
Japan’s the world’s greatest animation studio – Ghibli colour designer Michiyo Yasuda retired last week. Responsible for picking the palettes of just about all of the studio’s output for the last 20+ years and a close personal friend of Miyazaki and Takahata, Yasuda-san has obviously been a massive and important player in the creation of the Ghibli look.