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).
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.
Lots going on at the house of Totoro this week – first off is an excellent and insightful interview with Ghibli animator and art director Kosaka Kitaro (Royal Space Force: The Wings of Honneamise, Akira, Spirited Away and Ponyo on a Cliff by the Sea among many, many others) over at Ghibli World. Here’s a tasty extract:
In fact, it is evident how Miyazaki’s films, notwithstanding their highly imaginative stories, tend to present characters which are deeply human in their behavior and sensibility…
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?
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.
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.