When I was 13, I bought Ninja Scroll on UMD for PSP, and 13-year old me sure thought it was cool. Over 10 years later, it’s not as cool as I remember. The story and animation are just so-so. I like the various enemies the main characters fight—they’re all pretty unique, even if the battles aren’t that impressive.
Everything about Ninja Scroll feels run of the mill. It’s not bad, but it’s not exceptional in any way. It’s worth checking out if you’re in the mood for an action anime flick, but it’s not worth going out of your way for.
Thoughts on the anime film adaptation of Tsutomu Nihei’s manga.
Blame! is a marvel of stylish 3D animation. It hits all of the notes that I want a sci-fi film to hit–an interesting premise, a visual style that feels fitting and unique to the world, and spot-on music.
Blame! follows the story of Killy, a quiet badass with a single mission: find a human with the Net Terminal Gene. Cybernetic and synthetic life forms have taken over the city, which is ever expanding. Those life forms also exterminate all humans. Along Killy’s journey, he comes across a village that is on the verge of running out of food.
There are lots of pronouns (Net Terminal Gene, Safeguards, etc.), and the film doesn’t dive too deep into what they are, which is to its credit. I like that not everything is explained, as it builds this mythology and world that can be interpreted by each individual.
Polygon Pictures, the studio behind the film, has a knack for working within the visual aesthetic they’ve developed for 3D animation, and it works to great effect.
There’s not much that I can say to the fault of Blame! that isn’t nitpicking. It’s a great, concise adaptation of the manga. If you dig the movie, check out the manga by Tsutomu Nihei. Also, Knights of Sidonia is an anime series on Netflix based on a manga by the same author, which is worth watching.
I watched the movie with Japanese voices and English subtitles.
Brief thoughts on the live-action Ghost in the Shell.
Don’t send a rabbit to kill a fox.
Ghost in the Shell is on the cusp of being a good film, but it misses the mark in almost every way. Nothing feels impactful, from the action scenes to Way the Major struggles with her identity. There’s a lot of technically impressive CG, but it lost the visual aesthetic that makes the manga and anime shine. The story just isn’t that interesting, even though the premise is. It lacks the subtly and intrigue the anime film has.
A Ghost in the Shell live action adaptation has so much potential, but this doesn’t live up to it. Go watch the anime film and SAC series instead.
Brief thoughts on the 1964 film by Hiroshi Teshigahara.
Are you shoveling sand to live, or living to shovel sand?
Haunting and incredible. So much sand. Fitting sound design. Visually striking.
It’s slow to start, but worth it in the end. The second half picks up the pace a bit and goes places I didn’t expect it too.
I don’t think I’ll be going to the beach anytime soon.
Thoughts on the fantasy classic A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. Le Guin.
It took me a few months, but I finally finished A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. Le Guin. It is a very good novel and an especially good fantasy novel.
Continue reading “A Wizard of Earthsea Review”
Thoughts on the novel Drive by James Sallis.
I finished reading Drive by James Sallis last week, and I have some mixed feelings about it. I think it’s an okay read with some fundamental issues.
I enjoyed the shorter length of the novel. I think it works well for the story being told, and the writing flows nicely. The atmosphere seems to be spot on in the way that the grittier parts of L.A. are described.
I disliked that there were essentially zero consequential female characters. I think the film does a better job than the novel of developing the character of Irina/Irene. I found the plot difficult to follow, with each chapter jumping back and forth in the timeline. There were shifts in tense throughout the book, which felt awkward. Maybe it was intentional, but I found it confusing.
I read the book pretty slowly over the course of a few weeks. I think this made the book more difficult to follow. Because of the shorter length—only 192 pages—I think Drive would have been better suited for reading over a few sittings back-to-back.
The film adaptation of Drive is one of my favorite movies from this decade, so I was excited to read the source material. All-in-all, it’s an okay read but not one that I am enthralled with. I get the feeling that I just didn’t get it, so it may be a novel worth revisiting in a few years.