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Akira (1988): Blu-ray review

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It’s very hard to underestimate the global impact of Katsuhiro Otomo’s film adaptation of his own, epic manga Akira. It broke box office records when it opened in Japan, and along with Ghibli Oscar winner Spirited Away it is probably the anime film most western ‘non-fans’ have seen. For many of my generation it is a much treasured and personally important film and, without resorting to hyperbole, one that the first viewing of was a life-changing experience, akin to watching Star Wars, 2001 or Blade Runner for the first time.

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More Ghibli news: Kosaka Kitaro interview, new book and Blu-ray releases

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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…

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New Miyazaki manga: details and images emerge

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Following up last month’s story on the first new Miyazaki drawn manga in several years, I’ve managed to track down some more details and a couple of images (click for larger versions). The first part of Kaze Tachinu (風立ちぬ, The Wind Rises) was published last week in Japanese hobby magazine Model Graphix, and is based on the life of Zero fighter designer Horikoshi Jiro, and is not – as some websites will try and tell you – a ‘glorification of WW2 kamikaze pilots’.

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Oga Kazuo Exhibition: Ghibli No Eshokunin – The One Who Painted Totoro’s Forest: Blu-ray (2007)

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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.

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Ghibli colour designer retires

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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.

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Takashi Iwai – Manga Headphones Catalogue & Guidebook (新・萌えるヘッドホン読本) (2008)

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I know a lot of people really dug the Anime Guide to Headphones image I posted up a few months ago, myself included, so I couldn’t resist picking up the book it was meant to promote when I stumbled across it in Mandarake.

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Yet again – as with all these Japanese artbooks – it’s beautifully printed. Each double page spread features a page of Japanese text and diagrams about a particular brand and model of headphones opposite a large, full colour illustration of a girl modeling them.

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Ghibli Museum shopping spree

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As mentioned in an earlier post, we survived the melee of the Ghibli Museum shop, even if we were left more than a few thousand yen poorer by the experience…

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First of our spoils is this beautifully printed Mei and the Kittenbus book. An essential purchase for us, especially as we were so lucky to catch the film, it’s a short but glossy leaflet style affair, featuring tons of great scenes telling the story of the short. It’s the only official way of seeing any images from the film outside the museum, and as far as I’m aware only available from the shop. Click the thumbnails below for more glimpses…

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Katsuhiro Otomo Art Books

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Some of the coolest things I picked up in Tokyo were a trio of Katsuhiro Otomo art books – although sadly they weren’t for me, intended instead for my favourite Otomo-san obsessive Al T. Shame, as I would have liked to have spent some quality time with these beauties. Luckily though, I was able to grab a few shots before I let him get his grubby paws all over them.

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