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Ghost in the Shell 2.0 (2008): Review

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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.

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The Ghibli Museum, Mitaka

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Despite having been boringly safely back in the UK for over a month now, I’m still only just managing to mentally process everything we saw and experienced in Tokyo. A major highlight for us, in fact one of the main reasons for going in the first place, was our trip to the Studio Ghibli Museum in the suburb of Mitaka.

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Oshii ditching guns for katanas?

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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.

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Ponyo reviews start to emerge

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As it sits proudly at the top of the Japanese box office, the first English language reviews of the latest Studio Ghibli offering Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea have started to appear on the net. I’ve had a quick read of a bunch of them, and they’re all pretty positive. Which is kind of a relief, after the disappointment of Miyazaki junior‘s Tales from Earthsea last year. But while the Ghibli family soap opera plays out in the most subtle and Japanese of ways in the background, Dad is back at the controls once again, and did any of us really doubt he still had it in him?

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New Shinkai short: North American premiere details

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Regular readers will already know about my love for Voices of a Distant Star director Makoto Shinkai‘s work, so will understand why I’m pissed with Canadian anime fans right now. Not that the lucky bastards have done anything wrong, it’s just that if they can get to Ottawa this September, then they’ve got a chance of catching the premiere of his latest short Neko no Shūkai (Cat’s Gathering) at the city’s annual International Animation Festival. Like I’ve said before, so far Shinkai has proved he works best in the short film medium, so hopefully it’ll be something special. Check out a trailer I found below.

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Pixar: Soulless, corporate robots?

I was kind of intrigued earlier this week, while reading some of the pre-release hype around Pixar’s new, highly acclaimed CGI flick WALL-E. For those of you that have managed to miss it all, the film is set in a future where humans have been forced to abandon Earth due to pollution and environmental breakdown.

I was intrigued, because in a couple of interviews I read director/writer Andrew Stanton seemed to be going out of his way to play down any environmental message the film might have:

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Ponyo on a Cliff by the Sea (2008): First Footage

Headline says it all really…the first footage from the new Ghibli movie have been shown on Japanese TV and thus are now all over the Grid.

Still no news on a US or European release date…

Apparently, after he’s finished this, Miyazaki‘s next movie is going to be about sumo wrestling mice. Which doesn’t sound mind-blowing, but this is a Ghibli film we’re talking about….not Kung Fu Panda

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Makoto Shinkai live at the BFI

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A quick heads up for all you London based otaku – or even those of you with only a passing interest in anime – acclaimed auteur Makoto Shinkai will be presenting a screening of his latest film Five Centimeters a Second at 6.20pm this Friday (20/6/08) at the British Film Institute. He’s kicking off a whole weekend there of recent anime, and alongside his last movie (the beautiful but slightly dissapointing) The Place Promised in Our Early Days, it’ll be an excellent opportunity to catch some of the films I’ve been talking about here over the last few months including Vexille, Appleseed: Ex Machina, the brilliant Tekkonkinkreet and Satoshi Kon‘s mindfuck epic Paprika.

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RIP Stan Winston (1946 – 2008)

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Today is a tragic day for movie and science fiction fans.

Last night special FX legend Stan Winston, best known for his work on movie franchises such as Terminator, Aliens and Jurassic Park, died. While those franchises might have flagged creatively, Winston never did, always maintaining a truly unique eye for industrial design and an artist’s precognitive gaze into the future. His work on the Marines’ equipment and weapons in James Cameron’s Aliens was a personal favourite of mine, his designs somehow forward-echoing the images we see every night of US troops on duty in Iraq.

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Ghost in The Shell 2.0

NOTE: full review now posted here.

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This one slipped past me apparently. Ether that or Production IG have been keeping it very, very tightly under wraps.

Either way, apparently July 12 will see a Japanese theatrical release of Ghost in the Shell 2.0; a new special edition of the 1995 classic featuring some re-done CGI visual effects and a whole new, remastered 6.1 soundtrack. Anime News Network has all the precise details, and the one thing that worried me most is in that list of names there is no mention of the film’s original director Mamoru Oshii. Presumably he’s been far too busy with Sky Crawlers – which this release seems to be aimed at promoting – to have got involved himself.

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