GITS SAC: Solid State Society

Ghost in the Shell: S.A.C.—Solid State Society is the third movie since 1995’s Ghost in the Shell anime adaptation. This feature-length TV movie was broadcast on Skyperfect! in September 2006 and released on DVD by Bandai Visual in November of the same year. Fantasia 2007 treated the fans by screening this excellent cyberpunk anime on the big screen! Directed by Production I.G.’s Kenji Kamiyama, fans can enjoy yet another high-tech sci-fi story, which is set in 2034, Tokyo. The timeline is two years after the last TV series (2nd GIG), as Japan is still dealing with the Asian refugee problems. 

SolidStateSociety-image2Major Motoko Kusanagi left Section 9 — Japan’s elite anti-terrorist unit — and was missing for over two years. She left because she felt that by acting alone she could investigate more discreetly (using multiple cyber bodies), more freely (without the irritating political oversight) and therefore more efficiently. For Batou, the absence of Motoko leaves his work meaningless and he picks & chooses the case he’s working on, taking assignments only when he thinks it might bring him closer to her. With the Major’s departure and Batou refusing assignments, Togusa was forced to become the leader of the team as her successor. Togusa is, as usual, a man of justice. Married and having two children, he’s different from the other team members who are all single — including the aging Chief Aramaki who has been struggling to deal with the fact that Section 9 has to move on without the Major. Other members such as Saito and Ishikawa keep their positions as network expert or sniper. All Section 9’s characters are extremely honest and act with a sense of justice and responsibility. They’re all faithful to their convictions as they were in the TV series. 

SolidStateSociety-image1Section 9 hired 20 rookies, and their latest mission is to solve a case involving politically charged hostages. Somehow, one of the terrorist suspects committed suicide on the spot, leaving a strange message: “The Puppeteer is coming”. At the same time, many other mysterious cases keep taking place, including one where a huge amount of abused children seem to have been kidnapped by an organization of ultranationalist retirees. What links all those cases together? It seems to be the work of a super-intelligent hacker who has been manipulating all this, but to do what exactly, no one knows… 

SolidStateSociety-image4This movie is first class entertainment. Like the previous movies, it offers great music and superb animation. It has all the complex socio-political background of the previous TV series and maintains the series’ trademark cyberpunk feeling, but Director Kamiyama injected the storyline with so many themes — such as mass suicide, terrorism, biochemical weapons, kidnapping, old folks’ problems and child abuse — and subplots that the story gets confusing. It’s not easy to follow what’s happening in this extremely intricate movie. After the screening I was not quite sure of what I had just watched and who the Puppeteer really was! It’s one of those cases where you really need to purchase the DVD and watch the key scenes several time in order to be able to really enjoy the complexity of the movie. 

SolidStateSociety-image3In my humble opinion, I think that Director Kamiyama should have simplified and streamlined the storyline, maybe sticking with Togusa’s plot-line. I bet the viewers could have felt more empathy towards the movie if it was a little less complex. The animation itself has an overwhelming beauty, but, using all the great animation technology and talent of Production I.G., I think Director Kamiyama could have created a masterpiece, if he had just come up with a more coherent story. In the end, the true identity of the Puppeteer is still not very clear — but maybe Director Kamiyama kept it mysterious on purpose? 

—miyako

Kôkaku Kidôtai: Stand Alone Complex — Solid State Society. Japan, 2006, 109 min.; Dir.: Kenji Kamiyama; Scr.: Kenji Kamiyama, Shôtaro Suga, Yoshiki Sakurai; Phot.: Kôji Tanaka; Ed.: Junichi Uematsu; Art Dir.: Yusuke Takeda; Char. Des.: Hajime Shimomura, Takayuki Goto, Tetsuya Nishio; Mechan. Des.: Kenji Teraoka, Shinobu Tsuneki; Mus.: Yoko Kanno; Prod.: Production I.G.; Distr.: Bandai, Manga Entertainment; Cast: Atsuko Tanaka (Motoko Kusanagi), Akio Ohtsuka (Batou), Kouichi Yamadera (Togusa), Kazuya Tatekabe (Col. Tonoda), Masuo Amada (Col. Ka Gae-Ru), Osamu Saka (Daisuke Aramaki), Takashi Onozuka (Pazu), Tarô Yamaguchi (Boma), Toru Ohkawa (Saito), Yutaka Nakano (Ishikawa), Yuya Uchida (Takaaki Koshiki), Dai Sugiyama (Proto), Nana Yamauchi (Togusa’s daughter), Yoshiko Sakakibara (Prime Minister Kayabuki). Available on R2 Dvd in Japan (BCBA-2606, 109 min., ¥9800) and on R1 Dvd in North America (Bandai/Manga Entertainment, #25176, Bilingual Dvd, 109 min., $19.98 US [Limited edition: $39.98 US], rated 13+). stars-4-0

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SolidStateSociety-covIn 2034, two years after the departure of Major Motoko Kusanagi (after the events of the TV series, Stand Alone Complex, which starts in 2030 and before the second movie, Innocence, set in 2032), Togusa is now in charge of Section 9, which has been expanded with the addition of several new recruits. Batou, frustrated to have been left behind by the Major, is still looking for her and therefore picks & chooses only the cases that seem related to his quest. A string of strange incidents — starting with a series of suicides, followed by the kidnapping of many children, and an economical conspiracy plotted by a group of old ultra-nationalists — seem to lead to a mysterious super-hacker nicknamed the “puppeteer.” The Major is carrying her own parallel investigation — which leads Batou to suspect her of being the puppeteer. In the end, the real identity of the perpetrator is the most surprising revelation of all. 

This movie is directed by Kenji Kamiyama, the same person who directed the Stand Alone Complex TV series. It is therefore not surprising to find here the same excellent quality of production, as much in the design as in the animation. However, if the director succeeded to masterfully tie up all the elements of the story in the TV series, he seems to have difficulty to do the same in a movie format. Solid State Society feels like a long TV episode where he tries to compress the storyline of an entire series. There are too many sub-plots and the different elements of the story are mixed together in such a complex way that it sometimes lacks coherence and the viewers get confused (it took me at least two viewings to understand the complexity of the plot and even then I am not sure I understood everything correctly). 

The timeline of the various series and movies seems confusing as well. The first movie is supposed to be set in 2029, while Solid State Society is set in 2034. It is not clear exactly when Major Kusanagi left Section 9. Also, they should have encountered the Puppet Master / Puppeteer before (in the first movie), but no mention is made of a prior encounter as if the first movie never happened. In fact, it feels like Solid State Society is a retelling of the encounter between the Major and the Puppeteer. 

Despite the complex socio-political themes and the beautiful animation, Solid State Society does not have the same depth than the previous movies (directed by Mamoru Oshii) and it certainly doesn’t have the same contemplative beauty. It is a very nice movie, but it is much more demanding to the viewers than the TV series and even the previous movies — which you all need to have seen to really appreciate and understand this movie — so I would recommend it mainly to the die-hard Ghost In The Shell fans. Nevertheless, Solid State Society (and GITS in general) is the epitome of intelligent SolidStateSociety-Dvd-ratingscyberpunk anime (a genre that, unfortunately, we don’t see often). Finally, I must add that the Limited Steelbook case edition (which contains three discs: one disc with the main feature, one disc full of extras, and the Solid State Society soundtrack CD) is totally awesome. 

—clodjee

Bandai / Manga Entertainment, #25176 (ISBN 978-1-59409-831-4), Bilingual Dvd, 109 min., $19.98 US (Limited Edition: $39.98 US), rated 13+ (Violence). See back cover.

You can also check the trailer from Youtube:

For more information you can consult the following web sites:

[ AmazonANNBiblio • GoogleIMDbProduction I.G.Wikipedia ]

Ghost In The Shell: Stand Alone Complex—Solid State Society ©2006-2007 Shirow Masamune • Production I.G. / Kodansha. 

Those articles were first published respectively in PA #94: 76 (November-December 2007) and PA #93: 83 (September-October 2007).

Please also check the following Ghost in the shell articles:

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GITS: Stand Alone Complex 2nd GIG

Anime Story

2004 was a great year for theatrical anime releases in Japan. It brought us Hayao Miyazaki’s Howl’s Moving Castle, Katsuhiro Otomo’s Steamboy and, of course, Mamoru Oshii’s Ghost In The Shell 2: Innocence. However, most of the Japanese anime industry’s production, and what really sustains it, remains the television series, like Gundam Seed, Fullmetal Alchemist, and yes, Ghost In The Shell: Stand Alone Complex. 

SAC-2gig-logoGhost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex was a big hit in 2003 and Japanese DVD sales did great, so the creative team at Production I.G. decided to bring out a second season (titled “2nd Gig”). Now fans can look forward to another 26 episodes of cyber-political intrigue and action. 

Sac-2gig-illo11I can easily imagine that director Kenji Kamiyama was under a great deal of stress, with his work being compared with Mamoru Oshii’s Innocence, and to meet the fans’ expectations after the first season! Despite the high stakes, the young director was up to the task and I think he did a marvellous job. The “2nd Gig” is even better and more intriguing than the first season. He succeeded totally in creating his own world, telling the story in his own personal style, and we don’t even feel the need to compare his series with Oshii’s movie. Each has its own merit. 

Kamiyama not only respected Masamune Shirow’s original manga, but he gave it life by detailing, even more so than Oshii’s movies did, its near-futuristic setting defined by the interaction of humanity and technology in a complex Asian geo-political environment. His strong, captivating storytelling is very well supported by the superb animation, the beautiful and elaborate artwork and an enchanting soundtrack. It is so great to see that there is such a great new talent in Japan, able to create a serious and intelligent story that can both entertain our senses and stimulate our mind. It is not surprising that both seasons of the TV series have received a great deal of acclaim, not only from anime fans, but also from those who seek serious science fiction shows. 

SAC16-illoASAs the “2nd Gig” starts, Section 9, which had been dissolved at the end of the 1st season, is resuming its job as an anti-cyberterrorist mobile unit. Although the team has returned, their work isn’t easy, and many difficulties lie ahead of them. The Japanese political landscape is changing and the government is keeping a close eye on their special police. The “Laughing Man” case might be solved, but it doesn’t take long for another terrorist organization, “The Individual Eleven,” to show up. Who are they? Are they the result of another “Stand Alone Complex”? They seem to be stirring up an uprising against the Asian immigrants and refugees. Could it be that simple? But some other politically-motivated forces seem to be at work. Can Major Motoko Kusanagi and her team unravel the complex overlapping political plots before they affect the nature of the government? 

Technology might be omnipresent in Stand Alone Complex, but it is not overwhelming. In the “2nd Gig,” Director Kamiyama and Production I.G. keep an even greater focus on the human side of the story by exploring the characters’ hearts and emotions — even in the case of some of the terrorists. Each key member of Section 9 has a dedicated episode where we learn more about their past and personality. It is not done simply to paint a richer background; every single bit of information has its meaning. They also give a more humane face to the government (more likeable than the usual fat, corrupt, old minister) with the new Japanese prime minister, a young, good-looking lady who embodies the beauties (and sometime ineptitudes) of democracy. In contrast, there is the ugly face of Gohda, a shady character who embodies the threat of militarism. Also, the intelligent Tachikoma robots (their name means “standing, spinning top”) are back with a new, expanded sidekick role (definitely inspired by Motoko’s cute “helper” programs in the Man-Machine Interface manga). With their cute voices and comical comments, they give a human feel to the technology. 

SAC14-illoASThe terrorism and the Asian refugees’ problems seem to be an allusion to the Palestinian question and to some conspiracy theories that surfaced after 9/11 in Europe and in Japan (such as, American right wing groups being behind 9/11 in order to justify military action abroad and domestically limit civil liberties). But it is only used to emphasize the fact that, even in the future, terrorism — the favorite style of warfare of the 21st Century — is still omnipresent and we still haven’t found a way to deal with it. Despite all the advanced technology, humanity is still facing tremendous problems (war, pollution, corruption, poverty, overpopulation, crime). Nothing changes, and even the future’s future is still uncertain. Is there a solution to the crisis? Is there a possibility for us humans to be saved? The answer in “2nd Gig” might be in the origami cranes that appear in some episodes and that symbolize the prayers for peace and salvation. All we can do is, like Section 9, act with courage and determination (even if it means going against the rules sometimes), pray and hope for the best! 

In conclusion, “2nd GIG” is even better than the first season. While still very political, dealing with terrorism and immigration problems, it also elaborates on more of the personal history of each of the main characters, including Major Kusanagi. The cyberpunk political intrigue is at moments a little complex, but it is the most intelligent anime series I have ever seen and it is superbly animated. It’s not all action, there’s also drama — and I did cry a few times. A real masterpiece! Of course, such an exceptionally excellent anime series cannot be seen only on TV. SAC-2gig-ratingsYou have to purchase the DVD to watch it over and over again, to enjoy all the minute details of this superb animation and share the experience with your friends! And if after that you want more, the series was followed by a movie: Solid State Society. 

> Please, read the warning for possible spoilers <<

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Ghost in the shell: Stand Alone Complex (anime)

Overview

GITS-SAC-logoWith the TV version of Ghost in the Shell (Kokaku Kidotai) director Kenji Kamiyama (and his production team — including the full support of original creator Shirow Masamune) is bringing a new dimension to the standard police detective drama adding a techno-cyberpunk flavour. Not only is this a very high quality show visually (HD full-digital screen to satisfy even the most hard-core fan!), but it is also full of exciting, intelligent storytelling. You can see that the writers really put forward their best efforts to attract viewers. 

SAC-KusunagiCCThe story is set in a future Tokyo populated with high-tech doohickeys, and lots of cyborgs and androids. Fans of Ghost in the Shell find out immediately that this story is quite different from the manga or games. It’s a kind of alternate world created for the TV series, closer to what was already developed for the movie. The manga is funny and set in a fictitious future (lots of made-up names) where Section 9 is an international anti-terrorist unit. The TV series’ setting feels less like a militaristic anti-terrorist outfit and more like a special police force dealing with cyber crimes. It is more serious and more realistic. Nevertheless, like the movie, which was based mostly on the manga, the TV series is using bits and pieces of the manga’s story. We could consider the TV series as a prequel to the movie, whereas the new manga, Man-Machine Interface, is the direct sequel of the original manga. 

GHSill02RSo what do they mean by “Stand Alone Complex”? It could mean that the series is mostly made of stand alone episodes (self contained stories), with a few more complex episodes (the “Laughing Man” story arc). However, episode 6 also provides another explanation: it refers to the fact that Laughing Man’s imitators are independent copycats, created without an original. To me it seems that Production I.G.’s writers want to make the point that “It’s extremely difficult and almost impossible today to stand alone in this complex society of computers and networks.” Each episode throws enormous amounts of technical information and detail about computers, science and politics for the viewer to digest. At first, for an average nincompoop like myself, the contents of this show can be too much, but with a bit of patience it’s certainly educational. I think, in a way, it’s charming to see so much information on technology. Compared to ordinary anime shows, the amount of dialogue and information is quite huge. 

You really have to sit down and watch this TV show over and over again to catch the small details and to understand better. In this respect it shares much in common with its source, the manga. On the other hand, despite all this, the show can also be watched as an intelligent police/detective drama. The viewers can try to solve crimes with Section 9 members and get great satisfaction to see the conclusion of each cyber-crimes case. But don’t think that the show is as slow paced as the film — there is still a lot of action! 

SAC-illo02The characters seem to be like normal humans, but in fact most of them are cyborgs (or with some sort of cybernetic enhancement). I wonder if, in the near future, when humans begin to replace body-parts to improve their lives and live more comfortably, we’ll have different kinds of crimes? It’s the same type of premise as in Patlabor : if technology takes us there, the nature of crime will change. Of course we’re all human, but how in the world can we live and “stand” with our own personalities in this extremely complex society of the future? In this show, all criminals are making statements of a kind (politically, individually or otherwise). 

SAC01-03This is certainly a strong series evolved from speculative fiction, with excellent (and exotic Russian sounding) music by Yoko Kannno (Cowboy Bebop, Escaflowne and Macross Plus) and viewers will enjoy this full-action crime fighting anime! In our opinion, this series clearly shows one thing: good writing and storytelling make a great difference! There are many shows with high quality visuals, but with weak stories. Ghost in the Shell is one of the best shows to come down the road in the last few years and hearkens back to a period where stories and strong characters were the main focus. I’d like to send out enthusiastic applause to the creators of this show! 

Despite its high quality animation and intelligent story, the show has a few annoying details: the original opening is much better than the 3D one which starts with episode 3 and there are some technical impossibilities (like the cloaking devices which are not consistent with those in the movie). 

SAC08-02This anime won’t disappoint you — in fact, you’ll be totally hooked! A must see show that I’d recommend to anyone. In order to understand the TV series a bit better it is recommended to have seen the movie or read the manga (you would already know the characters and technological background), but you will probably manage anyway if you just dive straight in (you’ll find some helpful information, right after the jump). The series was very well received with critics’ rating of 8.5 on IMDb and of 67% / 100% on Rotten Tomatoes. Enjoy !

>> Please, read the warning for possible spoilers <<

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GITS: Stand Alone Complex Official Log, Vol. 1

GITS-SAC-Official-Log-1This superb book is an Official Guide to the Stand Alone Complex TV series and offers an in-depth analysis of the background story as well as the production development. It features an introduction to the Ghost In The Shell’s world (manga, movies, video games, etc.), character profiles and designs, mechanical designs, synopses and background notes for the first 19 episodes, interviews with the creative staff and an essay on the science of Ghost In The Shell. It also includes an exclusive 90-min. DVD with never-before-seen footage, a documentary on the digital animation techniques used for the series and more interviews with the staff and cast.

This type of high-quality art book usually comes in a larger format, but if the 6 x 8.5 inches size is more practical it also means fewer and smaller illustrations presented in a more cramped layout. Still, the Official Log is quite useful when it comes to better understanding the complex story of the Ghost In The Shell TV series. It is a must-have for all serious anime fans!  

Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex Official Log, Vol. 1 (by collective; editor, Robert Place Napton). [Cypress, CA] : Bandai / Manga Entertainment / Production I.G., October 2005. 148 pages (64 in colour) [DVD: Cat.# 25180, Subtitled, 90 min.]; Limited Edition (only 15,000 copy released), $49.98 US, rated 13+, ISBN: 1-59409-571-X. stars-4-0

Review originally published in PA #87 : 63 (December 2005 / January 2006). There is also a second volume but I haven’t seen it and therefore cannot comment on it. The book is old but seems to still be available online.

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Capsules

Revue de ‘zines [002.019.364]

Bon, c’est de temps de passer en revue, encore une fois, quelques périodiques consacrés à la BD et aux manga pour voir ce qui ce fait d’intéressant…

Animeland #228 (Sept.-Nov. 2019)

AL228Dans la section “Anime” de ce numéro, on note d’abord un dossier sur la SF dans l’anime (en six impacts: Astro Boy, Mazinger Z, Yamato, Gundam [avec un entretien avec Yoshiyuki Tomino], Evangelion et Haruhi Suzumiya), puis un article sur le dernier Makoto Shinkai: Tenki no ko / Weathering with you, sur les séries Demon Slayer, Vinland Saga, Given, Dr. Stone, Arifureta shogokyô de Sekai Saikyô, Kanata no Astra, et Ensemble Stars! On retrouve aussi des interviews avec Kiyotaka Oshiyama (Dennô Coil, Flip Flappers, Space Dandy) et Nobuyoshi Habara (co-créateur du studio Xebec), ainsi qu’un reportage sur Kyoto Animation.

Dans la section “Manga”, je remarque, entre autre, un dossier sur les trente ans de Glénat manga, le reportage sur “Comment éditer un manga 4: Communication, Presse et Marketing”, des chroniques sur Demon Slayer, Himizu, Valkyrie Apocalypse, Gigant, Chiisako Garden, Quand Takagi me taquine, un portrait de Junichi Nôjô (L’Empereur du Japon), des interviews avec Tsuyoshi Takaki (Black Torch, Heart Gear), Ryo Sumiyoshi (Centaures, MADK), Daiki Kobayashi (Ragna Crimson), Inio Asano (Bonne nuit punpun, Errance), Rie Aruga (Perfect World), et Suehiro Maruo (Dr Inugami, Vampyre, La chenille).

Comme d’habitude, un numéro riche en information. stars-3-0

dBD #138 (Novembre 2019)

dBD138Dans les actualités nous découvrons que Kurokawa lance la collection Kuro Savoir consacrés à l’adaptation pour adolescents (16+) de classiques littéraires. Cela rappel beaucoup ce que faisait Soleil Classique. La collection débute entre autre avec Le Capital de Karl Marx (par Iwashita Hiromi), Ainsi parlait Zarathoustra de Friedrich Nietzsche (par Ichiro et Aki) et Psychologie des foules de Gustave Le Bon (par Team Banmikas). On mentionne également que les éditions Ynnis ont publié un autre ouvrage de référence thématique: Hommage à Akira: Héritage de l’apocalypse par Stéphanie Chaptal.

À la une on retrouve une interview avec Jérôme Félix et Paul Gastine sur leur western Jusqu’au dernier (Éditions Bamboo, Coll. Grand Angle). Le magazine poursuit avec des interviews de Mathieu Kassovitz (cinéaste et acteur connu pour son adaptation de Cauchemar blanc de Moebius) sur l’influence qu’a eut Métal Hurlant sur son travail, avec Matz au sujet de son prequel à Transperceneige: Extinctions t.1 (avec Rochette chez Casterman) et sur le volume trois de Tango: À l’ombre du panama (avec Xavier chez Le Lombard), avec Jean-Claude Carrière et Jean-Marie Michaud sur leur volumineuse adaptation Le Mahâbhârata (chez les Éditions Hozhoni, 440 pages), avec Riff Reb’s pour l’adaptation de Jack London Le Vagabond des étoiles t.1 (chez Soleil, coll. Noctambule), avec Antoine Ozanam sur Klaw t.11: Coma (avec Jurion chez Le Lombard), et avec Flix sur Spirou à Berlin (chez Dupuis).

Dans le Cahier Critique je note Le Mahâbhârata par Carrière & Michaud chez Hozhoni (Top! “Après trois ans de travail acharné (…) le résultat est prodigieux”), la réédition de Kirihito par Osamu Tezuka chez Delcourt (Top! “Graphiquement (…) c’est plein d’expérimentation, tant dans l’expression des émotions que dans le découpages. Cela se lit d’une traite”), une BD sur Mishima, Ma mort est mon chef-d’oeuvre, par Li-An & Weber chez Vents d’Ouest (Super), Dans l’abîme du temps une autre superbe adaptation de Lovecraft par Gou Tanabe chez Ki-oon (Super, “Quelle ambiance oppressante (…) Ki-oon (…) a une nouvelle fois soigné à l’extrême la fabrication de son album”), L’Empereur du Japon t.1 par Eifuku, Hando, Shiba & Nojo chez Delcourt (Super, “Superbement dessiné”) et Une femme et la guerre où Yoko Kondô adapte deux nouvelles par Ango Sakaguchi chez Picquier (Top! “Une belle lecture à la gloire de la complexité humaine”). 

Un numéro riche en découvertes. stars-3-5

dBD #139 (Déc.-Janv. 2019/20)

dBD139Un numéro “double” (128 pages) où les actualités annoncent un manga de Persona 5 par Hisato Murasaki chez Mana Books et où la une nous offre un interview avec Philippe Druillet, Dimitri Avramoglou et Xavier Czaux-Zago sur Babel, un ambitieux remake de Lone Sloane chez Glénat. Ce numéro se poursuit avec des interviews de Christophe Blain au sujet de Blueberry t.1: Amertume apache (chez Dargaud, en collaboration avec Sfar), avec Balak et Bastien Vivès sur Lastman t.12 (chez Casterman), avec Juan Giménez sur sa série de La Caste des Méta-Barons (aux Humanoïdes Associés), avec Stéphane Levallois sur Léonard 2 Vinci (chez Le Louvre/Futuropolis), avec Minaverry sur Dora t.4: Amsel, Vogel, Hahn (chez L’Agrume) et Rebecca Rosen pour Morveuse (chez L’Employé du moi).

Au coeur de ce numéro on retrouve un spécial sur les cinq coups de coeur de fin de l’année qui offre des interviews avec des artistes dont l’oeuvre a été négligé par la rédaction: Jérémie Moreau pour Penss et les plis du monde (chez Delcourt), Alfred pour Senso (chez Delcourt), Georges Bess pour Dracula (chez Glénat), David Lopez pour Black Hand & Iron Head (chez Urban Comics), et Marc-Antoine Boidin & Jean-André Yerlès pour Legio Patria Nostra t.1: Le tambour (chez Glénat). Le numéro se conclu sur un article commémorant le soixantième anniversaire de la série Tanguy et Laverdure, qui avait débuté dans le premier numéro du magazine Pilote en 1959 sous la plume de Charlier et Uderzo et qui se poursuit avec un trente-troisième album, Retour aux Cigognes, par Zumbiehl, Buendia & Philippe (chez Dargaud).

Dans le Cahier Critique je note La fille de Vercingétorix par Ferri & Conrad chez Albert René (Super; cet album réponds à tous les critères qui font un bon Astérix mais les aventures des héros “n’ont plus la même saveur que quand nous étions adolescents. Pire nous ne sommes pas sûrs qu’après avoir refermé ce livre, nous penserons à le relire, contrairement aux premiers albums de la série”), Samurai 8 t.1 par Masashi Kishimoto & Akira Okubo chez Kana (Bien, “un air retrofuturiste inédit (…) mais la mise en scène ne suit pas (…) tout va trop vite (…) trop de digressions, trop de nouvelles intrigues parallèles (…) dommage car (…) l’univers créé par Kishimoto est, lui, vraiment intéressant”), Mon cancer couillon par Kazuyoshi Takeda chez Pika (Bien, manga autobiographique [Sayonara Tama-chan / lit. “Adieu mon petit testicule”] où l’ancien assistant de Hiroya Oku [Gantz] raconte sa lutte contre le cancer), ainsi que Natsuko no sake t.1 par Akira Oze chez Vega (Super, une histoire sur les coulisses du monde de la production de sake originalement publié en 1988, “belle histoire à l’ancienne (…) la narration est douce, le dessin de bonne facture”).

Des tonnes de suggestions de lectures pour les vacances et l’année à venir… stars-3-5

Animeland #229 (Déc. 2019 – Fév. 2020)

AL229Dans la section “Anime” de ce numéro, on note d’abord un dossier sur la tendance des éditeurs de manga à créer des nouvelles collections pour adultes qui traitent de sujets plus réfléchi et sérieux: comme la collection “Moonlight” chez Delcourt/Tonkam et la collection “Life” chez Kana. Puis on retrouve un autre dossier sur la série Chihayafuru (incluant un interview avec son directeur, Morio Asaka). S’ajoute des chroniques, entre autre, sur Weathering with You, Violet Evergarden, L’Habitant de l’infini, Beastars, No Guns Life, Hoshiai no Sora, Babylon, Cobra et un interview avec Tadayoshi Yamamuro (Dragon Ball).

Côté manga, on note dans les nouvelles parutions le premier volume de l’édition intégrale (pour le 90e anniversaire!) de Phénix: L’Oiseau de feu de Osamu Tezuka chez Delcourt/Tonkam dès le 8 janvier, Sengo [Areyo Hoshizuku] par Sansuke Yamada chez Casterman dès le 22 janvier (un manga gay situé dans l’après-guerre), L’Amant (d’après le roman de Marguerite Duras) par Kan Takahama chez Rue de Sèvre aussi le 22 janvier, ainsi que La couleur tombée du ciel une adaptation de Lovecraft par Gou Tanabe chez Ki-oon dès le 5 mars. On retrouve également un dossier sur les quinze ans de Ki-oon, de nombreuses chroniques sur Jujutsu Kaisen (Ki-oon), Shaman King (Kana), Asadora ! (de Naoki Urasawa!, chez Kana), Samurai 8 (Kana), Doppelgänger (Kazé), Aria (Ki-oon), The Quintessential Quintuplets (Pika), Elle ne rentre pas celle de mon mari (Lézard Noir), Zenkamono (Lézard Noir), En proie au silence (Akata), Libraire jusqu’à l’os (Soleil), Parasite / Neo-Parasite (Glénat), Un monde formidable (Kana), Inio Asano Anthology (Kana), La petite faiseuse de livres (Komikku), Dans le sens du vent (Soleil), Les liens du sang (Ki-oon), et My Pretty Policeman (Boys Love IDP). La section se conclue sur des interviews avec Takeshi Obata (Hikaru no go, Death Note, Bakuman, Platinum End), Taiyô Matsumoto (Amer Béton, Sunny), Ken Wakui (Tokyo Revengers) et Laura Negro (assistante d’édition chez Akata) ainsi que l’article “Comment éditer un manga 5 (dernière partie): Diffusion, Librairie et lecteurs…”

Comme toujours, un numéro riche en information et en découverte. stars-3-5

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Japanese film festival 

The 36th edition of the Japanese Film Festival will be held from Friday September 20th to Sunday September 22nd at the Cinémathèque québécoise (335 De Maisonneuve Blvd East, Montreal, QC). This annual event is presented by the Japan Foundation in collaboration with the Consulate General of Japan in Montreal. It offers four free Japanese movie screenings (in Japanese with English subtitles; Limited seating is available on a first-come, first-served basis; no reservations required).

Where I belong (しゃぼん玉 / Shabondama): Japan, 2016, 108 mins; Dir./Scr.: Shinji Azuma (based on a novel by Asa Nonami); Phot.: Wataru Miyamoto; Ed.: Shinya Tadano; Cast: Kazuyuki Aijima, Mina Fujii, Kento Hayashi.

[ AsianWikiIMDbJFDBOfficialYoutube ]

After committing robbery, Shoto’s flight from the cops takes him to the mountains of Miyazaki in southern Japan where he helps an injured elderly woman. This serendipitous encounter will softly coax him into changing and set him on the path to redemption. The Japanese countryside comes to life through beautiful cinematography in this simple and unhurried reflection on what it means to have a place where to belong.

Friday September 20 at 6:30 p.m. / 18h30

The Night I Swam (泳ぎすぎた夜 / Oyogisugita yoru): Japan/France, 2017, 79 mins; Dir.: Kohei Igarashi / Damien Manivel; Phot.: Wataru Takahashi; Ed.: William Laboury; Music: Jérôme Petit; Cast: Takara Kogawa, Keiki Kogawa, Takashi Kogawa.

[ IMDbJFDBOfficial ]

In the early hours of the morning in snowy northern Japan, a boy is woken up by the noise of his father leaving for work. Later, the boy deviates from the path to school and heads towards the fish market where his father works. This Japan-France coproduction has no dialogue, no narration, but instead captivates its audience with the power of images and everyday sounds, revealing in poetic silence the charming simplicity of a child’s world.

Saturday September 21 at 2:15 p.m. / 14h15

Drowning Love (溺れるナイフ / Oboreru naifu): Japan, 2016, 111 mins; Dir.: Yûki Yamato; Scr.: Yûki Yamato, Kishu Izuchi (based on the manga by George Asakura); Phot.: Takahide Shibanushi; Ed.: Kenichi Hirai; Cast: Nana Komatsu, Masaki Suda, Daiki Shigeoka, Mone Kamishiraishi, Nazuki Amano, Mickey Curtis, Masami Horiuchi.

[ AsianWikiIMDbJFDBOfficialWikipedia ]

Two of Japan’s rising stars take on the roles of a teenage fashion model from Tokyo and a successor to a family of Shinto priests, portraying together dreams of freedom and fragile teenage love, intense and tragic.

Saturday September 21 at 4 p.m. / 16h00

Summer Wars (サマーウォーズ / Samâ uôzu): Japan, 2009, 114 mins; Dir.: Mamoru Hosoda.

[ ANNIMDbOfficialWikipedia ]

When a timid high school math whiz unwittingly unlocks a rogue AI program able to destroy the real world, calling on the bonds of family and human compassion might be the only way to counter this menacing mayhem. A timely 10th anniversary screening of this Mamoru Hosoda and Madhouse masterpiece which seamlessly blends the beauty of traditional Japan with Superflat colorful computer graphics.

Sunday September 22 at 2 p.m. / 14h00

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Battle Angel (OVA)

BattleAngelOVABattle Angel (銃夢 / Ganmu [Gunnm] / lit. “Weapon dream”) compiles two OVAs released in Japan in June and August 1993. An English subtitled version was released by A.D. Vision on VHS in September 1993 and on DVD (with both dubbed and subtitled versions) in December 1999. The first OVA, “Rusty Angel”, introduces us to Gally and Scrapcity, and tells of the combat against Grewcica. The second OVA, “Tears Sign”, focuses on her friendship with Yugo and his dream to get to Zalem. [It was reviewed in PA #27: 37]

For the early 90s the quality of the animation was excellent, but unfortunately it looks disappointing by today’s standards. It still looks good though and offers excellent production value (nice storytelling and music soundtrack). However, one point that really bothers me is the editing which annoyingly and constantly cut the action to switch to scenes with other characters and then to cut back into the action.

The storytelling succeeds to condense the first part of the manga into two 25-minute OVAs and still manage to smooth the story so it is easier to understand. The manga had the advantage to have several graphic novels to tell the story (the first OVA covers the first volume and half, while the second tell the story up to the end of the third volume). The numerous battles  — which felt a little sketchy and tedious on paper — look much more realistic and entertaining in the animation (although the Alita live-action movies does an even better job at rendering the battle sequences). Lastly, the anime has a better success in giving life and expressing the emotions of the characters. It makes the drama much more tangible.

It is a nice anime that deserves to be seen. Unfortunately, it seems to be difficult to find now-a-day. Hopefully, with the success of the movie, it will be released again on DVD.

Battle Angel : Japan, 1993, 2 x 25 mins.; Dir.: Hiroshi Fukutomi; Scr.: Akinori Endō (based on Yukito Kishiro’s manga); Art Dir.: Hidematsu Kaneko; Char. Des.: Nobuteru Yuki; Anim. Dir.: Nobuteru Yuki & Futoshi Fujikawa; Phot.: Hitoshi Yamaguchi; Ed.: Yukiko Ito & Satoshi Terauchi; Music: Kaoru Wada; Studio: Madhouse; Jap. Cast: Kappei Yamaguchi (Yugo), Miki Itō (Gally), Shunsuke Kariya (Dr. Daisuke Ido). stars-3-0

To learn more about this title you can consult the following web sites:

[ ANNAmazonGoogleIMDbWikipedia ]

I have recently also commented on the Gunnm / Alita manga and the live-action movie.

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