This is my original review of The Sky Crawlers, reposted to coincide with the film finally getting a release on Bluray and DVD – as well as a limited cinema run – here in the UK. Since I first reviewed it I’ve watched it countless times, and I must say with each viewing I’ve come to love it even more. In fact, it’s become one of my very favourite of Oshii’s works.
If you’ve read this site before, or even just glanced over it’s archives, then my appreciation and admiration of director Mamoru Oshii is clearly laid out. As such it would seem not only redundant but also somewhat self indulgent to elaborate further on my love of his tense political sci-fi dramas Ghost in the Shell and Patlabor, or his low budget, live action masterpiece Avalon. Ever since his latest feature film The Sky Crawlers was first announced I have been gripped with excitement and anticipation – although, as always, resigned to the long wait us western fans must endure before we are granted an audience. This week that wait finally ended, and putting aside my deep rooted fanboy allegiances for just under two hours, I was able to sit down and see if anime’s most esteemed auteur could still deliver the goods.
Not that I expected him to win, especially in the year that Academy darlings Pixar released what is arguably their finest work to date, but I have to say I was surprised and disappointed he didn’t even get a nod when the nominations were announced today. It’s especially confusing when only three films where put forward, and one of them was the decidedly average Kung Fu Panda (I haven’t seen Bolt, and can’t honestly say I’m that bothered either).
The first moving images from Sky Crawlers are out, the new flick from anime god Mamoru Oshii. Don’t know an awful lot about it at this point, apart from it’s based on a Japanese novel by Hiroshi Mori about fighter pilots in an alternate history setting. Nice. Looks great, with both the plot and the little we see of the mechanical designs, it kind of reminds me of The Wings of Honneamise – which is certainly no bad thing, it being one of my favourite anime movies. To say I’m looking forward to this one would be one hell of an understatement…
Fernando Ramos is Editor-in-Chief of Anime3000.com. Hailing from beautiful San Diego, California, his incurable addiction to cartoons has led him to his current residence of Saitama, Japan, where staying up late winter nights editing articles only reminds him that SD would never get this cold. An avid photography and video fan, he also produces occasional videos and he also writes the photography/rant column Japan Jumble for the site. Find him as Saitamarama on Flickr and HelloNavi on Twitter.
There’s been a lot of bad news and vibes around the US anime industry recently – with some rather major players taking a hit – but for once here in the UK things seem to be ticking over quite happily. Sure we might be a few months behind our American cousins, but judging by the amount of screeners and press releases that have been jamming up my mailbox over the last month it looks like the UK distributor’s schedules show no easing up at the moment. It’s certainly more than I can review in detail before they hit shops, so in the first of what will be a regular feature here’s a run down of stuff that’s due to drop next month – keep an eye on the site over the next few weeks for more in-depth analysis of the pick of the crop.
Regular readers will know about my fanatical love for the animated works of Mamoru Oshii (Ghost in the Shell, Sky Crawlers), but they might not realize how much I also bug-out for his live action films. His last feature length work Avalon came out in 2001, and became an instant favourite in my household, the film getting played so much by me and my better half that we nearly wore out the DVD. Which is a good thing, considering how much I paid to import it from Japan. Anyway, with that in mind you can imagine how excited I got today when the first details were announced about his latest work, due to hit Japanese cinemas in December.
Anime News Network have a great scoop today – an English language teaser trailer for Oshii/Production IG‘s latest offering Musashi: The Dream of the Last Samurai. As reported late last year, the movie is based on the life and works of the legendary Japanese swordsman Miyamoto Musashi, author of The Book of Five Rings (五輪書, Go Rin No Sho).
Some of you might remember my concern back in June when I first reported on Production IG’s planned visual update to Oshii’s 1995 classic Ghost in the Shell. Well, the Blu-ray of GiTS 2.0 (not to be confused with GiTS 2: Innocence, which will also be referred to a lot in this piece) hit Japanese stores a few weeks ago, and via sources that I’m not at liberty to identify I have managed to get my hands on a preview copy – months before the (still yet to be confirmed) UK release. So it was that I found myself, on the first morning of 2009, sitting down to watch one of my favourite movies of all time again, but instead of being filled with the usual satisfying feeling of anticipation, I was gripped with something nearer to dread.
Looks like anime demi-god and Ghost in the Shell/Sky Crawlers director Mamoro Oshii is taking a break from his trademark dystopian futures to travel back to medieval Japan for his next flick Musashi: The Dream of the Last Samurai. Production IG have just launched a teaser site/trailer for the movie, which is due to hit Japanese theatres next summer, and the infamous auteur is backed up by an impressive staff, including Mizuho Nishikubo (GiTS, Sky Crawlers) and Kazuto Nakazawa (Kill Bill 1, Samurai Champloo) amongst others.