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Bateszi Anime Blog

Anime fans fornever

Don’t give up: dying in pursuit of change and The Sky Crawlers

the sky crawlers anime

Mamoru Oshii doesn’t make forgettable anime. Be it Ghost in the Shell or Patlabor 2, the man injects so much personality into his films that it’s impossible not to recognise his touch. There is, of course, his famous basset hound, but there’s also a poetic side that transports this viewer into the ether. I can’t tell if it’s just that his films are ageing like fine wine, or if I’m now of an age where I’m better able to appreciate what he’s trying to say, but whatever the case, he’s now one of my favourite film directors.

I watched The Sky Crawlers for the first time last night. With Kenji Kawai and Production IG alongside him, it’s a film as thoughtful as it is beautiful. Set on an alternate Earth, the ageless Kildren (“kill-dolls”) are fighter pilots forever clashing amidst the clouds in a war that is at best extremely vague and at worst totally pointless. The story exists in a place that’s like Neverland gone bad, where the children’s only escape from the endless cycles of war is heavy drinking, sex and suicide: the sheer monotony of their lives is reflected in the film’s subdued colour palette, everything is so hazy and drained: an apt worldview for a doll. A doll isn’t alive. A doll doesn’t have memories. A doll is content with its place in the world because it knows no better.

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Giving Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence a second chance

When I first saw Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence I left the screening unimpressed. At the time, it felt like a confusing trip through a philosophical morass. I disliked the Major’s lack of screen time as I loved her central role in the associated TV series. Still, when I heard that Bandai planned to stop releasing material, I knew I should pick up the Ghost in the Shell movies I did not have, including Innocence. Shortly thereafter I had a long trip to take and decided to give Innocence another look.

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Why didn’t you shoot? I meant to. – Jin-Roh: The Wolf Brigade

The thing is like a wolf.

The thing is a wolf.

Thus, it is a thing to be banished.

I’ve been an anime fan for a long time. At 22, the portion of my life in which I’ve been a fan is already half of that; and the period of time in which I’d been exposed to anime is closer to three-quarters that timespan. As such, good titles often fall by the wayside.Such was the case with Jin-Roh: The Wolf Brigade. Produced in 1998, it was relatively new when I was first getting regular access to anime. Needless to say, at 11, dubs of Sailor Moon and Pokemon were infinitely more interesting. And so, without ever making it onto so much as a To-watch list, Jin-Roh left my consciousness for the next nine years. And like all good things, it was not only worth the wait, but indeed, a wait I needed. I don’t think I could have appreciated the movie to the extent that I did even five years ago, let alone ten.

Though he had little to do besides write the screenplay, Mamoru Oshii‘s touch is evident throughout Jin-Roh: The Wolf Brigade. The movie continually threatens to pull the rug out from under your feet, all while providing a structure as organized as latticework. Directed by Oshii’s right-hand man and key animator, Hiroyuki Okiura (after he apparently kicked up a fuss about Oishii‘s handling of some scenes during Ghost in the Shell!) the film begins with a death: a “little red riding hood” delivering bombs to a resistance faction. What follows is a multifaceted account of a country, a man, and an organization. Jin-Roh is a dark film, but one continually punctuated by the light from molotov cocktails. Something’s better than nothing, I suppose.

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Embracing the end of the world

Neon Kusanagi

I’ve seen Ghost in the Shell many times; the most recent happened to be Friday night. It is a beautiful film, both beautifully animated and beautifully directed, only 80 minutes long too, and just as importantly, every time I watch it, I feel like I’m interpreting it in a slightly different way.

I first stumbled across Ghost in the Shell as a young teenager and was almost exclusively interested in the film’s iconic visuals. You know, like Batou pulling his gun in the crowded market-place and the abrasive sound of the gun fire, the Major’s brief yet brutal kung-fu fight in the midst of that shallow river; only her shadow visible against the calm water. The list goes on, yet with each new viewing, it is the film’s more introspective moments that continue to haunt me.

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