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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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Super Modelers – Akihabara

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Look, I know what you come here for. Really. I mean, I’m sure you’ve been enjoying reading about the last few days exploring Tokyo’s ancient monuments and culture, but I know what you’re thinking.

Where the fuck is the anime and the toys, Tim?

Well, my friends, let me put you out of your misery.

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Shinjuku

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So we’re here. Finally.

Actually, we arrived about 48 hours ago, after what seemed like a week of travelling. Hellish. But, of course, with hindsight completely worth it. Shinjuku is everything all the cliches say it is – Akira, Bladerunner and Neuromancer all rolled into one, but somehow weirder for not actually feeling that futuristic. Or at least, it’s a kind of retro futuristic, a reminder of the that 80’s cyberpunk vision that it inspired but never quite happened anywhere else. Like all sci-fi, they got some things wrong. Example? Well, it seems damn near impossible to find any public Wi-Fi round here. But why would you need it when everyone’s had 3G capable phones for over ten years?

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The rapture for geeks

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Whilst surfing over the weekend, I stumbled over a quote from sci-fi author Ken MacLeod. Now, I haven’t read any of MacLeod’s stuff for a couple of years, but this quote (apparently from his novel ‘The Cassini Division’) hit a chord with me.

(The technological singularity)…is the rapture for nerds.

Genius. I’ve been searching for a way of summing up my discontent with contemporary singularity theory, and all the time MacLeod had hit the nail right bang on the head.

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Real Drive 1 – 6 (2008): Review

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The last 9 months or so has been an exciting time for fans of Production IG and Masamune Shirow – previous collaborations between the anime powerhouse and the manga legend gave the world the unstoppable, stylish and cerebral Ghost in the Shell franchise, and last year they announced that the two giants would be joining forces for not one but two new TV series, Ghost Hound and Real Drive.

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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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Early 21st Century rubbish

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I was procrastinating preparing to do some work today by clearing out my office/studio/spare room, when I found myself taking the above photo. I was emptying a drawer of the usual flotsam of modern life, when I realised it was subtly different. Maybe it’s because I’m weird, but instead of the usual collection of random badges, elastic bands, paperclips and the tops off lost biros, this little pile included:

  • An old 3rd party Playstation memory card
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Vexille (2007): Review

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I’d been sat on Vexille for a while before watching it, to be honest. After the disappointment I felt from seeing the last Appleseed movie, I wasn’t sure if I could face another cold looking, mecha based, entrely CGI anime. But there’s an important fact that kept slipping my mind about Vexille, and that revitalised my interest every time I remembered it – that its the second movie from director Fumihiko Sori.

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Denno Coil 1 – 12 (2007): Review

NOTE: also sometimes spelled ‘Dennou Coil’

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Produced by cult animation studio Madhouse and directed by relative newcomer Mitsuo Iso, Denno Coil first started airing in Japan in May of last year, which is when I first started watching it, courtesy of Ureshii’s sublime fansubs. In fact, I watched the first 8 episodes just days after each one was first broadcast, but with other commitments and time conspiring against me, I criminally left the rest of the series untouched on my hard drive for months, until last week when I had a chance to sit down and try and catch up. I got as far as episode 12, still leaving me with another 14 to watch, and believe me, I’m going to be doing whatever I can to get through them. That new short story I’m working on may just have to wait a little bit longer.

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