Ghost in the Shell – 2017 edition

So I finally so the New Ghost in the Shell movie. I liked it. (My thoughts on it after the trailer.)

Critics panned it, though I have a hard time believing that many of them saw and liked the original as much as they are saying. In 1995 Anime was not a subject taken seriously by the critics or by Hollywood. The new movie has gotten a generally positive review from the folks who’ve seen it. (At least as reflected in places like IMDB and Rotten Tomatoes.)

It managed to pull some of the best bits from the original movie, and some of the cool parts of the animated series, Stand Alone Complex, without being slavishly tied to either.

I wish there was more time devoted to some of the secondary characters, but by US standards of today, it is a relatively short movie. It runs 107 minutes, a bit more than an hour and a half. Superman Returns – from several years ago (chosen not quite at random) ran 154 minutes. An extra 47 minutes is not insubstantial, though I thought Superman Returns was way too long.)

They did show Togusa with his Mateba Model 6 Unica autorevolver. (Click the image to enlarge) It is an interesting weapon. And though you only see it in one scene, it is there if you know to look. As is Saito with his cyber-enhanced sniper’s eye. Batou is there in form including the eyes. And Arimaki comes across as someone not to mess with. (I imagine a lot of the critics were bothered by the fact that Arimaki only spoke in Japanese. Suitable subtitles provided. But Americans hate foreign languages.)

There were some interesting bits. I won’t give any spoilers, but from the trailer you can see that the world they inhabit looks more like that conjured up for Blade Runner by Ridley Scott than what was in the original anime. Though there are some bits lifted straight from the original, including they use the original theme song at the closing credits, which was a nice salute to what Mamoru Oshii did with the original manga by Masamune Shirow.

After the break – 7 things you didn’t know about (the original) Ghost in the Shell movie. Continue reading

Ghost in the Shell

Live action Ghost in the Shell is coming out in 2017. I can’t decide if this looks good or not. I’ll probably see it anyway, as I love GitS.

It is staring Scarlett Johansson, mostly because Disney won’t green light a Black Widow movie. (Because Disney sucks on the topic of female superheroes.)

The 1995 anime was ground-breaking, in a lot of ways, not the least of which was the play it got in the US.

Continue reading


firebreather1I know most of you probably don’t go in for comics or graphic novels, but I’ve been revisiting one I really like. FireBreather, by Hester, Kuhn and Crabtree.

In this post-Rowling age — where every publisher wants you to rip-off Harry Potter — Phil Hester and Andy Kuhn take the young Potter formula and kick it off a cliff, turning the entire concept on its tail.

Like a lot of these stories the origin is a little thin, but Duncan is half-human and half-dragon. And he looks it. Comments made behind his back (though he hears them) include “monster” and “orange iguana.” Of course the bullies underestimate his strength.

Duncan doesn’t find relief at school, just the usual parade of bullies, and stoners and maybe a friend or two. His differences alienate him from pretty much everyone.

Duncan isn’t heir to a magical heritage filled with lollipops and cotton candy dreams. He doesn’t get a magic wand and a sweet pet owl. He gets anthracite and iron ore. And that’s his lunch. On top of that his dad is a monster (literally) who makes his entire life miserable. [Both quotes are from the Forward by Brad Meltzer.]

A more realistic portrayal of High School you won’t find anywhere, and finding it in a graphic novel is a special treat.

If you search for FireBreather on the web, you will find copious references to the fairly bad animated movie by The Cartoon Network. It is a poor adaptation of the graphic novel, it is badly animated, and it is poorly directed. It still manages to have a couple of really fun scenes, though overall I can’t recommend it.

Ghost in the Shell

The first teasers are available for the upcoming Ghost in the Shell live action movie.

This one recreates a part of the opening of the Original 1995 Anime.

If you want an introduction, the easiest place to start is probably Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex. (The animated series. It was produced as a prequel to the movies.)

Lithium Flower

So I’ve been indulging in a little anime, and of course that usually leads to Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex.

And that gives us this week’s Musical Interlude – “Lithium Flower” written by Tim Jensen and performed by Scott Matthew. This is the song which played as the credits roll at the end of season 1 episodes. (Well almost at the end of the episodes.)

Anyway there seems to be some issues with YouTube and licensing, so this link will bring up SoundCloud.

Cowboy Bebop

So I have been indulging in a little anime. A guilty pleasure, but if it is on in the background while I’m doing other stuff, I don’t feel too bad about it.

Here is the opening scene to Cowboy Bebop, The Movie. (Not the best anime of all time, but not the worst either.)

The opening scene of the movie is one of the best parts of the movie, and at 4 minutes, it is worth your time. (The gun that Spike Spiegel is using is a Jericho 941 from Israeli Military Industries. It is once again in production.)

I always liked the theme. Judge for yourself by following that link.

Final Fantasy VII on Android

Final Fantasy has a special place in the hearts of many people. I had just moved across the country, and started a new job and didn’t have much time to devote to video games at that point in my life, but it was interesting. Final Fantasy VII is out for Android now (A lot of people say it was “great.” I think that may be a function of looking back on the “good old days.” It was good.)

There are few bugs, and 16 bucks for an app, so probably not something I will dive into. I still have a DVD copy of FFVII Advent Children around here somewhere… maybe I can dust that off.

So for no real reason I can think of (except that I really like it) here is the fight between Tifa and Loz from FFVII Advent Children.

Most Americans can’t stand Japanese story telling, and this is based on a video game, (witness the “flash step” that Loz deploys in the fight) so the movie tends to confuse a lot of people. But it is visually stunning. (The fight between all the heroes and Bahamut Sin is worth a look if nothing else.)