Justine et les Durrells

Justine-covEn Grèce, sur une île des Cyclades, un homme se souvient de la ville d’Alexandrie. Avec une mémoire d’archiviste, il raconte ce qu’il a vécu là-bas avant la Seconde Guerre mondiale. Narrateur anonyme, Anglo-Irlandais entre deux âges, professeur par nécessité, il classe ses souvenirs, raconte son amour pour Justine, une jeune pianiste séduisante, un peu nymphomane et somnambule ; il évoque sa liaison avec l’émouvante Melissa, sa maîtresse phtisique. D’autres personnages se dessinent. D’abord Nessim, le mari amoureux et complaisant de Justine, Pombal, le Français, Clea, l’artiste-peintre, Balthazar, le médecin philosophe. Mais Justine, d’abord Justine, est au coeur de ce noeud serré, complexe, étrange, d’amours multiples et incertaines… 

En achevant le premier tome de son fameux Quatuor d’Alexandrie (Balthazar, Mountolive et Clea succéderont à Justine et seront publiés entre 1957 et 1960), Lawrence Durrell (1912-1990) en donna à son ami Henry Miller une définition devenue célèbre : “C’est une sorte de poème en prose adressé à l’une des grandes capitales du coeur, la Capitale de la mémoire…”

[Texte du site de Renaud-Bray]

(Attention, lire l’avertissement de possible divulgacheurs)

Un Britannique déchu, l’aspirant romancier et enseignant L.G. Darley, évoque les souvenirs d’une affaire qu’il a eu à Alexandrie avec la passionnée Justine Hosnari et par ce fait tente de s’exorciser de cet amour impossible. Justine est un roman d’atmosphère sur l’amour — l’amour d’une femme mais surtout l’amour d’une cité: Alexandrie. C’est très beau, très bien écrit mais aussi un peu ennuyant. Cela m’a pris presque deux ans à lire ces deux-cent cinquante pages, dans mes moments libres, entre d’autres livres. C’est la première partie d’une tétralogie (Le Quatuor d’Alexandrie) où chacune des parties est plus ou moins axées sur un personnage différent (Justine, Balthazar, Mountolive et Cléa), offrant chaque fois une perspective différentes sur l’entourage du narrateur (L.G. Darley).

Quatuor-d-Alexandrie-covL’auteur, Lawrence Durrell, est un homme très cosmopolite qui haïssait l’Angleterre (sa société rigide et son climat). Né en Inde il a successivement habité à Corfou en Grèce, à Paris (où il a collaboré avec Henry Miller, Anaïs Nin et Alfred Perlès), à Alexandrie (où il était attaché de presse de l’ambassade Britannique), à Rhodes, en Argentine (où il travaillait pour le British Council Institute), en Yougoslavie, à Chypre (où il a été enseignant) et il s’est établi finalement dans le sud de la France. Le Quatuor d’Alexandrie a définitivement des accents autobiographiques, Durrell s’inspirant d’éléments de sa propre vie: son travail pour le gouvernement Britannique, le fait que sa première épouse s’installe à Jérusalem après leur séparation (comme Justine qui part pour un kibboutz en Palestine), et sa deuxième femme (Eve, une juive alexandrine) étant hospitalisée en Angleterre suite à une dépression, il s’installe à Chypre avec leur fille et prend un travail d’enseignant (comme le narrateur du roman). Et il a sûrement beaucoup aimé la ville d’Alexandrie… C’est là qu’il a rencontré Eve. C’est une ville cosmopolite comme lui, qui offre un complexe mélange de toutes les cultures et toutes les religions. Riches et pauvres s’y côtoient, partageant une culture tant Européenne qu’Arabe, sans trop s’offusquer des moeurs ou de la religion de chacun, qu’ils soient musulmans, juifs, orthodoxes ou chrétiens.

Justine, publié en 1957, a été écrit pendant le séjour de Durrell à Chypre (1952-56). Si il a une belle écriture et qu’il utilise une prose sensuelle et poétique, son style est plutôt expérimental pour l’époque. La narration est désarticulée, avançant et reculant au fil des souvenirs et des sentiments du personnage principal. Et comme ces flashbacks interviennent généralement sans la moindre transition, cela peut laisser le lecteur confus. Si le coeur du récit est le triangle amoureux entre le narrateur, Justine et son mari, le banquier copte Nessim, Durrell y ajoute un ensemble de personnages colorés qu’il utilise pour évoquer la beauté et la diversité de l’Alexandrie d’avant-guerre, ajouter une intrigue socio-politique et même un discours philosophique (voir mystique, au travers du groupe d’adeptes de la Cabbale qui se réunit autour de Balthazar). Toutefois, il s’en sert surtout pour donner une perspective multiple au récit (un peu comme dans le film Rashōmon). C’est aussi en quelque sorte un concept dickien, puisqu’il explore comment notre perception de la réalité est somme toute relative…

“Nous cherchons tous des motifs rationnels de croire à l’absurde. (…) après tous les ouvrages des philosophes sur son âme et des docteurs sur son corps, que pouvons-nous affirmer que nous sachions réellement sur l’Homme? Qu’il est, en fin de compte, qu’un passage pour les liquides et les solides, un tuyau de chair.”

— Lawrence Durrell, Justine (Le Quatuor d’Alexandrie, Le livre de Poche, p. 93) [une réflexion qui rappelle beaucoup Marcus Aurelius dans ses Pensées pour moi-même]

Cette complexité stylistique fait de ce roman, paradoxalement, à la fois un texte attrayant qui captive par sa beauté (au point qu’on en continue la lecture parfois sans même porter attention au récit) et une lecture difficile, voir même par moment désagréable. Je ne sais trop si c’est parce que j’ai lu ce roman par petits bouts, ou parce que j’ai changé plusieurs fois de la version originale à la traduction française (selon la disponibilité du document) mais l’écriture de Durrell m’est apparu compliquée et même parfois difficile à déchiffrer. Il me fallait souvent relire un paragraphe plus d’une fois pour en saisir le sens — certaines phrases échappant totalement à ma compréhension! C’est la version originale qui m’a donné le plus de fil à retordre. Est-ce dû à mon niveau de lecture de la langue de Shakespeare (que je croyais pourtant excellente) ou est-ce que le traducteur français en a poli le texte plus qu’il n’aurait dû en arrondissant certains angles du style de Durrell? Ou alors c’est simplement le style désarticulée de Durrell qui est très demandant. Étrangement, pour passer le temps au travail, j’ai commencé à lire le second tome, Balthazar. Je le lis par curiosité sans avoir vraiment l’intension de le terminer. Chose surprenante, je trouve cette lecture plus facile et plus agréable. Sans vraiment parler d’ “action”, l’histoire progresse plus rapidement et est moins “atmosphérique.” Avec la seconde partie, l’auteur a probablement trouvé son rythme… On verra si j’en continue la lecture…

D’une certaine façon ce roman m’a plus intéressé pour ce qu’il reflétait de la vie de son auteur que pour son récit lui-même. Durrell est un auteur réputé (qui a même été considéré pour un prix Nobel de littérature) et Justine (en fait, l’ensemble de la tétralogie) est considéré comme son chef-d’oeuvre, se plaçant soixante-dixième parmi les cents meilleurs romans de langue anglaise du vingtième siècle. Alors, même si mon impression est plutôt mitigé parce que j’en ai trouvé la lecture difficile, je crois que c’est tout de même un beau roman, profond, qui mérite d’être lu.

Justine (The Alexandria Quartet #1), by Lawrence Durrell. New York: Penguin, July 1991. 253 pages, $19.00 US / $22.50 CND. ISBN 9780140153194. stars-2-5

Vous trouverez plus d’information sur les sites suivants:

[ AmazonGoodreadsGoogleNelliganWikipediaWorldCat ]

• • •

Le Quatuor d’Alexandrie (Justine, Balthazar, Mountolive, Clea) par Lawrence Durrell (Traduction par  Roger Giroux). Paris: Livre de Poche (Coll. Classiques modernes / Pochothèque), octobre 1992. 1056 pages, 25,00 € / $44.95 Can., ISBN 978-2-330-07074-8. Pour lectorat jeune adulte (16+).

[ AmazonGoodreadsGoogleNelliganWikipediaWorldCat ]

Justine, le film

Quelle ne fut pas ma surprise de découvrir que la tétralogie a été adapté en un film hollywoodien à la fin des année soixante ! Il est décrit comme “Les amours d’un jeune Anglais à Alexandrie à la fin des années 1930 avec une prostituée et la femme d’un riche banquier qui complote contre les Anglais” (Wikipedia). 

Le film me semble relativement fidèle au roman. Bien sûr certaines scènes ont été changées et, comme je n’ai lu que le premier quart de la tétralogie, je ne peut pas juger du reste. Je me demande cependant si la partie avec le traffic d’arme et le fait que Darley a été manipulé par Justine a été ajouté pour le film ou si c’est simplement dans la partie du roman que je n’ai pas lu. Si cela représente bien reste de l’histoire, je suis intrigué et peut-être continuerai-je à le lire… Le roman se lit peut être comme un oignon et, avec chaque nouvelle partie, Darley découvre sans doute des vérités de plus en plus profondes sur Justine…

Le film offre une narration bien évidemment linéaire avec juste les éléments essentiels de l’intrigue. Vu de cette façon les personnages sont étrangement bidimentionnels. Est-ce que cela fait du sens pour celui qui n’a pas lu le roman? Et le film nous présente une Alexandrie qui semble plus perverse que belle…

Malheureusement, malgré un casting rempli d’acteurs connus, le film fut un échec total puisqu’il ne rapporta qu’un peu plus de deux millions de dollars au Box Office (alors qu’il en a coûté presque huit à produire).  Il semble aussi qu’il ait fait piètre impression sur l’audience qui ne lui a donné une cote que 5.6 / 10 sur IMBd et 36% sur Rotten Tomatoes. 

Justine-dvdJustine: USA, 1969, 116 min.; Dir.: George Cukor & Joseph Strick; Scr.: Lawrence B. Marcus & Andrew Sarris (basé sur le roman éponyme de Lawrence Durrell); Phot.: Leon Shamroy; Ed.: Rita Roland; Mus.: Jerry Goldsmith; Cast: Michael York (Darley),  Anouk Aimée (Justine), Dirk Bogarde (Pursewarden), Robert Forster (Narouz), Anna Karina (Melissa), Philippe Noiret (Pombal), John Vernon (Nessim), George Baker (Mountolive) et Severn Darden (Balthazar). Disponible pour visionnement sur Youtube. stars-3-0

[ AmazonIMDbRTWikipediaYoutube ]

Les Durrells

Toutefois, ce qui est vraiment intéressant (et amusant) dans cette expérience de lecture, c’est ce qui m’a fait découvrir Lawrence Durrell — et toute sa famille. Car, à une exception près, ce sont tous des auteurs publiés que j’ai découvert en regardant sur PBS la série télé de la ITV Les Durrells à Corfou (The Durrells). Cette série télé de vingt-six épisodes relate les mésaventures (parfois loufoques) de la famille durant un séjour de quatre ans (1935–1939) sur l’île grecque de Corfou. 

À la mort de son époux à Dalhousie, en Inde, en 1928, Louisa Durrell décide de déménager sa famille en Angleterre, à Bournemouth (Dorset), en 1932. Mais la famille y est misérable et à l’instigation de l’aîné — Lawrence (Larry), qui suggère qu’un climat tempéré serait plus agréable — elle déménage à nouveau à Corfou en 1935. Lawrence, vingt-trois ans et écrivain en herbe, s’y rend en premier avec son épouse Nancy Myers. Louisa l’y rejoint avec le reste de la famille: Leslie (dix-huit ans, dont l’intérêt se limite à la chasse et aux armes à feux), Margaret (Margo, seize ans et égocentrique, qui s’intéresse surtout aux garçons) et le cadet Gerald (Gerry, dix ans, qui ne s’intéresse qu’aux animaux). Ils seront aidé dans leur aventures par le chauffeur de taxi exubérant Spýros Hakaiópoulos et le médecin, naturaliste et traducteur Theódoros (Théo) Stefanídis. Chose amusante, si Lawrence parle de son séjour à Corfou dans son livre Prospero’s Cell, il y mentionne à peine la présence de sa famille. À l’opposé, Gerry, dans sa Trilogie de Corfou, ne mentionne jamais la présence de Nancy, la femme de Lawrence, ce qui fait qu’elle n’apparait pas dans la série télé… Avec le début de la deuxième guerre mondiale et l’invasion imminente de la Grèce par les Allemands, la famille retourne en Angleterre en 1939. Lawrence et Nancy, quant à eux, fuient à Alexandrie en 1941.

La série télé est très amusante et divertissante. Je la recommande chaudement. 

TheDurrells-dvdThe Durrells: UK, 2016-2019, 4 seasons de 6 episodes; Dir.: Steve Barron & Roger Goldby; Scr.: Simon Nye (basée sur la Trilogie de Corfou par Gerald Durrell); Phot.: Julian Court, James Aspinall; Mus.: Ruth Barrett; Prod.: Christopher Hall; Cast: Keeley Hawes (Louisa), Milo Parker (Gerry), Josh O’Connor (Larry), Daisy Waterstone (Margo); Callum Woodhouse (Leslie), Alexis Georgoulis (Spiros), Anna Savva (Lugaretzia), Yorgos Karamihos (Theo), Leslie Caron (Countess Mavrodaki), Ulric von der Esch (Sven), et James Cosmo (Captain Creech). stars-3-5

[ AmazonGEMIMDbNelliganOfficialPBSRTWikipedia ]

En plus de l’oeuvre prolifique de Lawrence Durrell (dont Citrons acides qui relate son séjour à Chypre), son frère Gerald a écrit plusieurs ouvrage sur son travail de naturaliste et de conservationniste (il a pour ainsi dire réinventé le concept moderne du zoo) mais il est surtout connu pour sa “Trilogie de Corfou” (Ma famille et autres animaux publié en 1956 [Nelligan], Oiseaux, bêtes et grande personnes publié en 1969 et Le jardin des dieux publié en 1978) qui relate avec beaucoup d’humour le séjour de la famille en Grèce et a inspiré la série télé.  Même sa soeur Margaret a écrit un livre sur la pension de famille qu’elle a tenu à Bournemouth après le retour de Grèce, intitulé Whatever happened to Margo? [Nelligan], écrit dans les années ’60 et publié par sa petite-fille en 1995 (qui a retrouvé le manuscrit dans le grenier). Je vais m’efforcer de lire quelques uns de ces ouvrages et de les commenter plus tard…

À noter aussi que le 11 mars 1968 Lawrence Durrell a été interviewé à Radio-Canada sur l’émission Le Sel de la Semaine, animée par Fernand Seguin. L’entrevue est disponible sur les archives de Radio-Canada, sur Youtube et sur DVD [Nelligan]. On la décrit ainsi: “Lors de son passage au «Sel de la semaine», l’écrivain dévoile la source de son inspiration pour son chef-d’oeuvre [«Quatuor d’Alexandrie»]. L’animateur le questionne d’abord sur son parcours inusité, sur son enfance, sa carrière diplomatique, sa discipline d’écriture, ses rencontres, entre autres sa rencontre déterminante avec l’Américain Henry Miller”. C’est fort intéressant d’entendre l’auteur lui-même parler de sa vie et de son oeuvre.

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Quelques lectures à venir

J’ai récemment fait la découverte de quelques titres que je vais m’empresser de me procurer à la bibliothèque afin de les lire (et possiblement commenter) le plus rapidement possible.

Kebek-2-covD’abord, j’ai découvert que le tome deux de Kébek par Philippe Gauckler allait finalement paraître le 14 janvier 2021. J’ai déjà commenté le premier tome et j’ignore si l’histoire se terminera avec le deuxième ou si elle nécessitera un troisième (ce qui aiderait à ne pas trop précipiter le récit). Le titre de ce deuxième tome sera “Adamante” mais aucun descriptif n’est disponible pour l’instant. J’espère qu’il ne tardera pas trop à traverser l’Atlantique car j’ai très hâte de le lire…

Kebek: t. 2: Adamante, par Philippe Gauckler. Ed. Daniel Maghen, 96 pages. 19,00 € / $C 39.95. ISBN 978-2-35674-084-7. À paraître le 14 janvier 2021. [ Google ]

Je viens à peine de finalement mettre la main sur le volume six de Isabella Bird que je découvre que le sept est déjà paru en Europe depuis le début décembre ! Celui-là va certainement prendre quelques mois avant de nous parvenir…

J’attend également avec impatience le Pline #9: L’Opium d’Andromaque, qui est paru fin Octobre, et qui devrait atteindre nos rivages d’ici la mi-janvier (selon Les Libraires) — en espérant qu’il n’y ai pas trop de délais avant qu’il soit disponible en bibliothèque…

J’aimerais bien aussi lire le Cesare #13. L’auteur avait fait une longue pause en 2014 et avait reprit la production en 2018 pour le volume 12 (paru en France en janvier 2020 et déjà commenté). Fuyumi Soryo a par la suite remit le manga sur pause à nouveau… et aurait reprit le travail à l’automne 2019 mais le volume treize n’est toujours pas paru…

Bambi-covJ’ai récemment découvert que l’histoire originale de Bambi a été republiée avec des illustrations du célèbre dessinateur de livre pour enfants Benjamin Lacombe. Considéré comme un conte pour enfant (9 à 12 ans) à cause du film de Disney ce livre est actuellement un roman animalier pour adulte écrit par Félix Salten, un auteur autrichien, en 1923 mais qui “fut interdit et brûlé par les nazis qui y décelaient “une allégorie politique sur le traitement des juifs en Europe”. Les éléments symboliques sont nombreux tout en restant discrets (…)” [Paris-Match #3733, p. 33]. Je suis donc curieux de revisiter cette histoire…

Bambi, par Félix Salten, illustré par Benjamin Lacombe. Paris: Albin Michel, novembre 2020. 176 pgs. 22.7 x 30.7 cm, 29.90 € / $C 44.95. ISBN 9782226450210. [ AmazonGoogleBeDethèqueGoodreadsWorldCat ]

Les superbes adaptions de Lovecraft par Gou Watanabe se poursuivent chez Ki-oon avec L’Appel de Cthulhu (qui est paru en Septembre, cette fois avec une couverture rouge). Je l’ai réservé à la bibliothèque et m’y attèlerai dès que je le reçois ! Mais cela ne s’arrête pas là, puisque Ki-oon annonce déjà Celui qui hantait les ténèbres pour mars 2021 (avec une couverture verte) !

J’attend toujours aussi Olympia Kyklos par Mari Yamazaki (Casterman, vol. 1/4, 15,95 $, 200 pages, ISBN 9782203202986) qui devait paraître en juin 2020 mais qui semble avoir été retardé à cause de la COVID et paraîtra plutôt en mars 2021. C’est une comédie du style de Thermae Romae mais avec des grecs. [ MangaNewsGoogleAmazon ]

Même si j’ai été plutôt déçu par le premier volume de Ad Romam (commenté récemment), j’ai tout de même l’intention de lire le tome deux que j’ai déjà réservé à la bibliothèque… Par simple curiosité…

J’ai déjà sur ma table de chevet Aliss de Patrick Sénécal / Jerk Dion publié chez Alire (en collaboration avec Studio Lounak). Mais cela m’apparait un peu heavy donc je vais probablement attendre un peu avoir de le lire…

J’ai aussi réservé pour ma femme à la bibliothèque la BD biographique Les Étoiles de l’Histoire t.3: Brigitte Bardot (Dupuis, mai 2020, 136 pages, ISBN 9791034749133, 12+). Comme BB était l’une des idoles de mon adolescence (je me demande bien pourquoi) je vais probablement en profiter pour la lire aussi…

Voici encore quelques titres que j’ai l’intention de lire dans les prochains mois (dès que disponibles):

DernierEnvolDuPapillon-COvEt j’en passe… Il y a plusieurs titre en cours / en attente de lecture sur ma table de chevet (Justine par Laurence Durrell, La lanterne de Nyx vol. 1-2 par Kan Takahama, Le dernier envol du papillon aussi par Kan Takahama, The Hound and other stories par Gou Tanabe chez Dark Horse ainsi que plusieurs périodiques — Solaris, dBD, Animeland) et plusieurs autres déjà lus qui attendent d’être commenté (Histoires Courtes d’Aoi Makino, Les frères Karamazov chez Kuro-Savoir, Les fleurs de la Mer Égée par Akame Hinoshita, Isabella Bird #6, Mariko Parade par Boilet et Takahama, Terre Errante par Liu Cixin — tiens, un roman!, La librairie de tous les possibles par Shinsuke Yoshitake, Tokyo, amour et libertés par Kan Takahama, et Nos compagnons par Jiro Taniguchi).

Cela me fera beaucoup de lectures et beaucoup de pain sur la planche! Il va me falloir essayer de regarder moins de télé, ce qui sera sans doute difficile car beaucoup de nouvelles séries intéressantes devraient se pointer en 2021. Sur ce sujet d’ailleurs j’ai aussi découvert que l’une de mes série anime fétiche, Kimagure Orange Road, est maintenant disponible sur RetroCrush ! J’ai aussi débuté le visionnement de la cinquième saison de la sublime série The Expense ainsi que de la nouvelle série Raised by Wolves — dont le sujet est une guerre de religion entre les Athées et les adeptes de Mithra qui se poursuit sur une planète désolée après que les derniers survivants de l’humanité y ait trouvé refuge. Pour épargner la sensibilité des croyants, il semble que le récit ait été placé dans le futur d’un monde alternatif où le culte de Mithra a prédominé sur les autres (dans NOTRE réalité il a éventuellement été absorbé par le culte de Sol Invictus au IIIe siècle avant d’être définitivement supplanté par le christianisme au IVe siècle mais a en quelque sorte survécu à travers le manichéisme et le zoroastrisme). 

Aussi Doctor Who (série 13) devrait reprendre le 1er janvier, A Discovery of Witches (S2) le 9 janvier, Real Time with Bill Maher (S19) le 15 janvier, Batwoman (S2) le 17 janvier, Euphoria (spécial #2) le 24 janvier, For All mankind (S2) le 19 février, When calls the Heart le 21 février, The Walking Dead (S10) le 28 février, sans compter le film Dune annoncé pour le 1er octobre, The Mandalorian (S3) pour le 25 décembre, un quatrième film de The Matrix (pour décembre également) ou encore les séries télé de Foundation, Lords of the rings, McMafia (S2), His Dark Materials (S3), Gentleman Jack (S2), Star Trek Discovery (S4), Outlander (S6), Westworld (S4), Call the Midwife (S10), Lost in Space (S3), The Morning Show (S2), Carnival Row (S2), Emily in Paris (S2), Star Trek: Picard (S2), un remake de Shōgun (!) et les multiples spin-off de Star Wars qui n’ont pas encore de dates annoncées! Wow! Où vais-je trouver le temps de lire ?

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Ghost in the Shell: Arise

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

GITS Arise 1: Ghost Pain

GITS-Arise-1“World War IV is over, but a bomb has gone off in Newport City, killing a major arms dealer who may have ties with the mysterious 501 Organization.” [Text from Netflix, see also the Japanese trailer]

In the first episode (June 2013, 58 min.), we discover the Major when she is still in the military. As she comes back to Japan, she must do an investigation on the possible corruption of her deceased superior officer as well as on his murder. She discover that she is much more involved that she would have thought. In the course of her investi­­gation, she encounters Aramaki, who offers her a job as consultant. This episode, as well as the whole series, offer us the origin story of the Major and the Section 9. It is quite an interesting story and the animation is pretty good (not as much as the movies, of course).

GITS Arise 2: Ghost Whisperers

GITS-Arise-2“Freed of her responsibilities for the 501 Organization, Motoko must now learn how to take orders from Aramaki.” [Text from Netflix, see also the Japanese trailer]

In the second episode (November 2013, 56 min.), we find again a story where the military are being scapegoated and seek revenge for it — but they are actually being manipulated. The Major is told to assemble a team but it might be hard to chose the members… As always, it is a nice cyberpunk story with great animation.

GITS Arise 3: Ghost Tears

GITS-Arise-3“As Motoko and Batou attempt to thwart a mysterious terrorist group, Togusa tracks the killer of a man with a prosthetic leg made by Mermaid’s Leg.” [Text from Netflix, see also the Japanese trailer]

In the third episode (June 2014, 58 min.), the Major has assembled a team composed of her recent “adversaries”, but they are still just a bunch of mercenaries working for Section 9. And she is still missing a member to fit with Aramaki’s requirement. This a story of foreign terrorists using technology to move their ideology forward. The Logicoma (a bigger and less advanced version of the Tachicoma) are interacting more with the team. The theme of artificial intelligence is, as always, omnipresent.

This series (and this episode in particular) shows us a more personal side of the Major as she has a boyfriend. She is shown as being more vulnerable as she is getting often infected by viruses. Both in episodes one and three, she gets personally involved with the subject of her investigation. Also, having a personal relationship is a weakness that enemies can exploit. I guess, with time, she will learn from her mistake and become the more hardened, distant and cold Motoko that we know in the rest of the franchise. Your real enemy is often closer than you might think… This is a really interesting story with good animation. It is certainly a must-see for all Ghost in the Shell fans.

Strangely, this OVA series has five episodes but Netflix has been  streaming only three of them — go figure why. The two other episodes are “Ghost Stands Alone” (September 2014, see Japanese trailer) and “Pyrophoric Cult” (August 2015, see Japanese trailer). The series was also adapted into a TV series (titled GITS: Arise – Alternative Architecture) and completed by a movie (GITS: Arise – The New Movie, which concludes the plot of episode 5) and a manga (GITS: Arise ~Sleepless Eye~ which was published in Monthly Young Magazine between April 2013 and June 2016, was compiled in seven volumes and tells how Batou and the Major met during the civil war).

I suspect the series was titled “Arise” because it is about the origin story of both the Major and Section 9. All in all, it is a good cyberpunk story, compelling storytelling, full of socio-political background typical of the rest of the franchise. It is well worth watching if you are either an anime fan or a cyberpunk aficionado.

Data File

Ghost in the Shell: Arise (攻殻機動隊 ARISE / Kōkaku Kidōtai Araizu / Mobile Armored Riot Police: Arise): Japan, 2013-2015, OVA anime, 5 x 50 min.; Dir. / Char. Des.: Kazuchika Kise; Scr.: Tow Ubukata; Music: Cornelius; Studio: Production I.G. Cast: Maaya Sakamoto / Elizabeth Maxwell (Major Motoko Kusanagi), Ikyuu Jyuku / John Swasey (Aramaki), Kenichiro Matsuda / Christopher Sabat (Batou), Yoji Ueda / Jason Douglas (Paz), Tarusuke Shingaki / Alex Organ (Togusa), Takuro Nakakuni / Marcus Stimac (Saito), Mayumi Asano / Mary Elizabeth McGlynn (Kurutsu), Atsushi Miyauchi / Brian Mathis (Mamuro), Masahiro Mamiya / Chris Rager (Ibachi), Kenji Nojima / Eric Vale (Tsumugi), Takanori Hoshino / David Wald (Raizo), Miyuki Sawashiro / Jad Saxton (Logicoma).stars-3-0

For more information you can consult the following web sites:

[ AmazonANNGoogleIMDbNetflixOfficialWikipedia ]

Also, you can check the official trailer on Youtube:

© 士郎正宗・Production I.G / 講談社・「攻殻機動隊ARISE」製作委員会

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Capsules

Ghost in the Shell: SAC_2045

Ghost-in-the-Shell_SAC-2045_Main-PosterWhen sustainable war spawns a “post-human” threat, Major Kusanagi and her Section 9 team are called back into action.

In the year 2045, after an economic disaster known as the Synchronized Global Default, rapid developments in AI propelled the world to enter a state of “Sustainable War”. However, the public is not aware of the threat that AI has towards the human race.

Full-body cyborg Major Motoko Kusanagi and her second-in-command Batou are former members of Public Security Section 9, who are now hired mercenaries traveling hot devastated American west coast. This land is full of opportunity for the major and her team, they utilize their enhanced cyberbrains and combat skills from their time working in Section 9. However, things get complicated with the emergence of “post humans,” who have extreme intelligence and physical powers. The members of Section 9 comeback together again in order to face this new threat.

[Text from the official website]

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

Anime Story

At the end of the Stand Alone Complex TV series, Section 9 is disbanded. In this series, the team has become a mercenary unit named GHOST that operated outside Japan (mostly in the United States) for the last six years. The only former member that didn’t joined GHOST was Togusa. He hesitated because of his family and later regretted the decision. He eventually divorced and found a job at a private security company. The Prime Minister asks Aramaki to reform Section 9 and Togusa is put in charge of locating his former colleagues.

After a failed mission where they were defending a one-percenter against the attack of a group of outlaws, the GHOST team is kidnapped by the NSA who want to use them in a mission to capture Patrick Huge, the rich owner of a tech company. The target reveals itself as a formidable opponent that can anticipate their move and even hack their cyberbrains. As the Major is about to be taken over, Saito terminate Huge. Smith is furious because he wanted him taken alive in order to study him. He explains that Huge was what the NSA calls a “Post-Human.” So far, humans have improved themselves with cyberbrains and cyber-implants. However, the post-humans are the opposite: A.I. which somehow have succeeded in taking over the brain of humans and therefore represent an unprecedented threat to humanity. Unfortunately, Smith consider the GHOST team as a liability and want to eliminate them. He is stopped by Aramaki who arrives in extremis with new orders from the American President. The new Section 9 mission will be to hunt post-humans.

It’s episode 8 and the real story finally begins. The team is back in Japan after six years (Batou came back a few days earlier but got entangled in a bank robbery). There are three post-humans that have been identified in Japan. One is an ex-boxer who seems to have a grudge against corrupt politicians. He kills the Prime Minister’s father-in-law and then goes after Teito himself but stops short of killing him (maybe he felt that he was a good man?). The next post-humans to be identified is a teenager that wrote a program creating mob justice. As they are investigating his story, Togusa get infected by some of his code and disappears! Will he becomes a post-human too? To be continued… in the second season (another twelve episodes, directed this time by Shinji Aramaki, but no release date has been announced yet).

>> End of Warning <<

I’ve mentioned this series recently and was eager to have a look — although I was sure that I would totally dislike its 3D animation. Yes, a few aspects of the CGI are quite awkward — the movements of the characters seem sometimes odd despite that fact that it’s motion capture animation and some character’s hair, mostly Aramaki’s and Tokusa’s — but the 3D quickly grow on you and you eventually even forget that it’s there as you focus on the action and the story. The character designs (by a Russian artist) are faithful and pleasant (the Major sure looks like a doll!) and the storytelling is excellent: well paced and captivating. My favourite part is that, as usual with Ghost in the Shell, the cyberpunk background world (socio-political setting, technology, etc.) is quite superb. 

Interestingly, the story seems inspired by the work of transhumanist Ray Kurzweils, who predicted that the A.I. singularity would occur in 2045. One element of the story that differ from the previous series, which are generally nippo-centric, is that the first half is set in the United States (which has experience some sort of civil war again). Also, when I watched the series on Netflix, no dubbed version was available yet because the coronavirus lock-down has delayed production (I am more of a subtitles guy anyway). 

So far, this new Stand Alone Complex series seems not much appreciated by the critics, considering the very average ratings that it is receiving (6.0 on IMDb, 47% on Rotten Tomatoes, and C+ on ANN). Anime fans are probably irked by the 3D animation. Too bad for them. It is an excellent anime, well worth watching. It is entertaining, an appropriate continuation of the franchise and, despite my initial misgivings, quite beautiful. A must see for any anime, cyberpunk or Ghost in the Shell fans. stars-4-0

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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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Life at the time of the Corona

Or what to do when you’re stuck at home because of the COVID-19 social distancing mesures. 

There is not much we can do besides sleeping, taking walks in the park (while keeping our distance from other people), reading books, watching TV series or movies, or using the internet to virtually travel elsewhere. We took a little time to gather for you a few suggestions of places where you can find pleasurable distractions. Enjoy !

Reading

All libraries are closed but — if you don’t already have a good book collection at home or a nearby book store — you can always rely on digital books. Beside the obvious commercial options (Amazon, Audible, Barnes & Noble, Kobo), here are a few suggestions to find free digital books:

More precisely, if you want to read free manga online (see also a list on epubor), here a few suggestions:

Movies & music

There are plenty of free music streaming sites on the internet (Spotify, Pandora, Google Play, iHeartRadio, etc.) but personally I use mainly Internet Radio, Stingray, and TuneIn. 

However, beyond the commercial streaming sites (Amazon Prime Video, AppleTV+, Disney+, Hulu, Netflix, etc.), the free movies streaming sites are less well-known. Here are a few suggestions:

Also, if you are interesting in Japan and Japanese culture, I suggest you stream shows from NHK World.

Virtual visits

You can find a lot of places to visit virtually on Google: Art & Culture, but here are a few suggestions:

Museums

Music

Nature

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TV updates (Fall / Winter) Part 1

At last, another TV season is in view…

First some news…

  • The Crown S03 is now available to stream on Netflix (trailer)
  • Vikings S06 started on December 4th on History (trailer)
  • The Expense S04 started streaming (this time on Prime Video) on December 13th (trailer) !
  • Lost in Space S02 will be back on Netflix on December 24th (trailer) !
  • There will be another Call the Midwife Holiday Special on December 25th (trailer)
  • Doctor Who S12 will start January 1st (trailer)
  • The first half of Father Brown S08 will air between January 6th and January 10th
  • Grantchester will come back for another six episodes (S05) on January 10th
  • In the same genre, I can say that Endeavour will soon come back for S07 (February or March?), set in 1970. A S08 is also already planned.
  • The young Pope will have a sequel titled The New Pope and should start airing January 13th on HBO (trailer)
  • Avenue 5, a sci-fi comedy with Hugh Laurie will premiere on January 19th on HBO (trailer)
  • Star Trek: Picard will premier on January 23rd (trailer)
  • Homeland S08, the final season, will premiere on February 9 (trailer)
  • Outlander S05 will start on February 16th 2020 (trailer)
  • Westworld will be back for a third season in 2020 on HBO. Sorry no more details… (trailer)
  • The Boys S02 should be back on Amazon Prime around mid-2020 (trailer)

And then a few shows worth talking about…

Watchmen S01

Watchmen-poster-600x750I was disappointed by the trailer because the series looked cheaply made as I thought that Rorschach’s mask was not animated but only drawn but, actually, it’s not a Rorschach’s mask at all but an imitation worn by the 7th Cavalry, a group of white supremacist terrorists. The series is actually quite excellent. It is officially a sequel that tells us what happened after the comic book, ties some lose ends and builds a new level of complexity on the original story, but there is so many flashbacks that it could also be considered a prequel as it tells the origin stories of several characters. The story revolves around three generations of mask vigilantes, mostly the Minutemen’s Hooded Justice / Will Reeves (played by Louis Gossett Jr.),  the Crimebusters’ Ozymandias / Adrian Veidt (Jeremy Irons) and Doctor Manhattan / Jon Osterman (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II) — we could probably also add Laurie Blake (Jean Smart), formerly Silk Spectre, who is now an agent for an Anti-Vigilante division of the FBI — and, the newest generation, police detective Sister Night / Angela Abar (Regina King) who is the main protagonist. 

In an alternate history where the vigilantes (masked heroes who won the Vietnam war and saved the world from nuclear holocaust through an elaborate hoax) are now outlawed, the social policies of the Redford government are stirring racial unrest and, as the police has become the official masked heroes, the old vigilantes seeks to ties some lose ends in order to save the world again.

The story, about racism and justice, is well written and riveting, the visuals (without any big special effects) are stunning and respects the look and spirit of the original comic book. Despite very mixed ratings on Rotten Tomatoes (critics’s rating of 96% versus an audience score of 49%), I personally think that Watchmen is a superb production and a must see TV series. stars-4-0

[ GoogleHBOIMDb • WikipediaYoutube ]

Capsules

The Expanse S04

the-expanse-season-4-posterThe creation of the Ring by the Protomolecule has opened the way to thousands of new worlds. However, Avasarala, the U.N. secretary-general, had ordered a blockade until it is sure that those worlds are safe for colonisation. Unfortunately, some ships were able to pass through the blockade. When crews of both Belters and an Earth Corporation landed on Ilus to claim its natural resources, Holden and the crew of the Rocinante are sent by the U.N. the assess the situation — which quickly degenerate into conflict. On top of that, the protomolecule entity known as “Miller”, with which Holden is in contact, is wreaking havoc with the planetary systems in order to investigate why its civilisation has been obliterated and by whom. Despite the truce, all factions from Earth, Mars and the Belt are on edge…

This series is an example of incredibly well written hard science-fiction, where the complexities of science and politics make for a rich and intriguing plot. It offers breathtaking visuals that make you feel like you are there with the characters. I bingewatched the entire 10-episode season in only a couple of days. It is definitely the best sci-fi TV series of the moment and my favourite show. And I’m not the only one to think that because it received excellent ratings (an overall rating of 8.5 on IMDb although the lowest episode rating for season 4 is 9.1 and on Rotten Tomatoes we find a critics’ rating of 100% and an audience score of 98% !!!). I can’t wait for season five (which has reportedly already began shooting)! It is really a must see. stars-4-5

[ Amazon PrimeGoogleIMDbWikipediaYoutube ]

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Capsules

Ken Burns’ Country Music

KenBurnsCountryMusic-DvdLast night I watched on PBS the first episode of Ken BurnsCountry Music documentary and I was mesmerized! I don’t really like country music (or at least I thought I didn’t) but I was fascinated by this documentary about the history of country music in the USA. In fact, it is much more than that: it is the history of America and its culture — mostly of the deep America. It is very interesting and educating. Like all documentaries by Ken Burns it is very well researched. It is very interesting to see all those old pictures and footage, as well as to ear such music from another era (the documentary covers until 1996)… Certainly a must see.

Country music is certainly a pretty large musical genre that has evolved a lot and encompass many sub-genres (hillbilly, bluegrass, western, etc.) and cross-over styles. It is difficult to define and I am looking forward to learn more about it. For instance, Bob Dylan sang many songs from the country music pioneers (and adopted their style) but he is considered a folk singer. What’s the difference between country and folk? Is folk a sub-genre of country music? I am just wondering…

Country Music is an eight-part mini-series (120 mins each) that premiered September 15, 2019 and airs on PBS every week day until September 25. It is also available for streaming on PBS website (U.S. only). stars-3-0

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

[ AmazonGoogleIMDbOfficialPBSWikipediaYoutube ]

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Capsules

Carnival Row

5860359.jpg-r_1280_720-f_jpg-q_x-xxyxxWith a serial killer loose on Carnival Row, and a government that turns a blind eye to the deaths of its lower class citizens, Rycroft Philostrate, a war-hardened investigator, is the only person willing to stop the murders and maintain the fragile peace. But when Vignette Stonemoss, a faerie refugee, turns up in the Burgue, she forces Philo to reckon with a past he’s tried to forget.

I was quite intrigued as soon as I watched the teaser for this superb dark fantasy (“neo-noir”) TV series on Amazon’s Prime Video. The world it offers is really interesting. It doesn’t feel entirely original since it is constituted by a blend of mythos that oozed from our collective psyche (legendary creatures mostly from celtic or classical lores) and it seems inspired by various literary classics (you’ll find little hints of Shakespeare, of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, of Alexandre DumasCount of Monte Cristo, of Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables, or a little Jack The Ripper and even a bit of Lovecraft), but it is all put together in a very clever and inspiring manner.

In an alternate Victorian world, a British-like country (a city-state named The Burgue) is fighting a German-like folk (The Pact, which remains quite mysterious throughout the series) over new territory to increase their colonial empire. It seems set in a period similar to the Boer War mixed with some aspects of WWI. Strangely, this society looks almost like the Victorian or Edwardian era from our world, but with slight differences in technologies and with everything having akin but different names. For example, the religion they practice is very similar to Christianity (with the typically puritan attitude of the Victorian England) but the Christ is called the Martyr and is represented as a hangman on the gallows instead of a cross! 

As The Burgue is losing the war, refugees from their invaded colonies are starting to flow into the London-like city-state creating social problems and racial frictions. It would be a normal historical drama if those population were not made of mythical creatures like faeries (fae), goblins, pucks, kobolds, werewolves, centaurs, etc. In the middle of all this, Rycroft Philostrate — a police inspector with a mysterious past and an identity crisis — is investigating a series of gruesome murders and is somewhat reunited with his long lost lover, Vignette Stonemoss.

CarnivalRow

Carnival Row is an excellent steampunk story (they still use coal but also telegraph, electricity, airships, gatling guns and small rockets). It is full of mystery, moral (battle of good vs evil, high society vs the slums), politics, forbidden love (inter-racial and LGBTQ+) and even sex (faeries are apparently quite sexual creatures). It tackles very contemporary themes, like social inequity, immigration, feminism or racism. This series is a real advocacy for tolerance and diversity, a call to rediscover and preserve the magic that is in our hearts. It makes me realize that steampunk (and Neo-victorian), as a genre, is really getting popular — we start noticing it more and more in novels, in anime and manga, and now even in TV series.

This series is quite captivating (I binged the first season in a couple of days) and incredibly well-made (superb special effects and costumes), with a great cast (Orlando Bloom, Cara Delevingne, Indira Varma, Jared Harris) and an excellent storytelling. It will surely be the event of the season. I found it both fascinating and entertaining, and cannot understand the poor reception it got from the critics (54% on Rotten Tomatoes !) although it was better appreciated by the public (87% on Rotten Tomatoes and 8.1 on IMDb). I admit that the ending of the first season was a little predictable and disappointing (aren’t they all — but this one does solve the identity crisis of the main character and the murder mystery). Some people complained that the folks of the Pact were never properly introduced or developed, but I am sure that more will be explained in the second season (I can’t wait to see where the plot will take us). No, this series is definitely a must-see (be sure to check also the behind the scene videos) and I highly recommend it. stars-4-5

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

[ GoogleIMDbPrime Video  Wikipedia ]

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