Monday, January 16, 2017

Quickie Review: Fantastic Beast & Where To Find Them

Hello! It's Mr.K here who has risen from his grave! Not really, I just finally came here to finish what I  started. To be sincere for a moment, I did wanted to write reviews but unfortunate events has happened throughout November with my laptop dying while getting a new one and doing these CCS Fanstreams in order to expand discussions while the main crew is doing big projects for the website. As for me, I will still be writing reviews but I might have to get used to the new laptop while also cranking out the livestreams like a stressed out workaholic wanting a big paycheck of the day only to get steamrolled by a drunken employee who had way too many drinks during the slutty Christmas party. So, I'm giving the gift of the Quickie you all deserved for having the patience to wait for me to post one of my blog posts for so long, it felt like an eternity. Also, this is the last post I'll make in Blogger cause I decided to write my film reviews in Letterboxd from now on since Blogger is getting too glitchy on my new laptop. Thanks to all of those who followed me and hope the Letterbox writing format would improve my reviews for all of those who like reading my stuff for quite a while. Happy New Year and here's to a bright future for movies:

Fantastic Beasts & Where To Find Them:

Fantastic Beasts in an interesting film to say the least. It's written by J.K. Rowling with this film being the first screenplay she ever wrote based around her stand alone stories set in the Harry Potter universe, it's a stand alone movie set in the same world as Harry Potter but not a prequel and the trailers did a good job at catching this movie my fullest attention. What I got was a decent little film with a wonderful setting and good visuals but a huge drop of potential by not utilizing this new world to it's fullest while also setting this film to be a 5-part movie saga for years to come rather than making a strong impression for her first film. Or it could be WB trying to make this Harry Potter spin-off into it's own cinematic universe cause god forbid make the first film stand out right?

There's quite few things to like about Fantastic Beasts where the film truly shines. First off, I like the world the film takes place with The American Depression era setting allowing for a much complex story to be told where the relationships between No-Maj and wizards are troubling while racial tensions due the streets with paranoia and uncertainty including The Salem Witch Trials who are a group of wizard haters who see magic as the devil's curse and the MACUSA Order who are responsible in maintaining their world a secret from humans. I also liked the main character Newt with his award but noble personality with his relationship with animals & humans while the interactions between the supporting cast was genuinely fun, some of the action was pretty good and the cast was solid with Eddie Redmayne, Colin Farrel, Ezra Miller, Jon Voight, Ron Perlman and many more doing a great job in portraying the characters with plenty of personality & wit while the score was decent despite some misusage of the Harry Potter theme by John Williams during a scene where it just didn't click with me at all. Unfortunately, the film is held back by too many subplots that don't go anywhere, characters making idiotic choices which halts the plot for too long, the main baddy is uninteresting while also being mediocre at best with Johnny Depp looking more absurd than scary (he looks like Marilyn Manson's hipster vampire cousin who sprinted out the closet for attention but only to get hit in the broom by Manson to go back down the stairs), some of the humor can be cringeworthy and the film just felt too short for a movie with so much story & world building, it feels like we haven't seen enough of the setting to be fully invested in the situation the characters go through and I would hope we get more footage left out of the cutting room considering Rowling's script was supposedly very long but was trimmed down in order to be met the 2:30 runtime. I guess we must wait for the Extended Cut when it comes out on Blu-Ray then just like what WB did with Suicide Squad & BVS.

Overall, Fantastic Beasts was a decent good time and I am glad J.K. Rowling is putting her writing skills in crafting a new world out of the HP franchise despite the flaws that stop this film from being phenomenal. As long as the producers improve their mistakes, the 5-films may work if they fix the writing while properly establish the stories, characters & settings without throwing them under the bus for another film in the series. We'll just have to wait and see then until 2024 comes out and the world turn into a futuristic war between magic & scientology or nuclear warfare.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Arrival Review

Arrival is a godsend in a year where movies have been getting more pandering or mediocre as the months passed by. It's really refreshing to see a movie take familiar concepts but add a fresh spin to it by having interesting ideas executed right or showcasing a different story all together while not being dumbed down for audiences since Denis Villeneuve, director of Prisoners, Sicario, Incendies & Enemy, has become a fan favorite filmmaker for taking genres by giving it a new story to tell and with Denis set to direct Blade Runner 2049 (FUCK YEAH!), this filmmaker is going to go on and do breathtaking wonders for movies. Sorry if the opening description is vague but I'm just floored on how good Arrival is.

The plot centers around Dr. Louise Banks who's tasked by the military to decrypt a message from the aliens as it may hold a clue to humanity's salvation. That's all I'm gonna say about the plot cause if I told your the entirety of the plot, you will get spoiled too quick but if I were to describe the film then Arrival is about the importance of the universal language and how we must learn from one another to become a stronger species. In an age of relying on social media and where media news outlet would prefer to showcase the horrendous things humans are capable off while throwing claims of "how humanity deserves to be killed from the earth", many forget we humans are flawed by nature and despite that, we still thrive to live on for the future ahead by use of communication or working together to find ways to cure unknown diseases or find ways to help out the homeless in need. That's not to say Arrival sugarcoats the themes cause the film also explores the dangers of how humanity can lose their sense of self through fear & paranoia while disregarding logic or common sense all together. The characters are rich & unique with Louise Banks being such a well-written character as a woman who's overjoyed with the discovery of the shells while also dealing with a past that keeps coming back to her and it's thanks to Amy Adam's wonderful subtle performance that elevates her character from the rest of the cast. Jeremy Renner as Ian Donelly is also great and while not as strong as Adam's, his character is still interesting with his interactions with Banks feeling very genuine and honest as you get to see a good chemistry between 2 people making an amazing progress regarding extraterrestrial beings landing on Earth rather than having aliens go "BOOOM!!" in every goddamn alien invasion movie. The only real complaints for Arrival is some of the plot conveniences near the end of the movie and some lines becoming way too cheesy but the film never dumbs down the story while having enough subtle visual cues that would warrant a second watch for home-video.

The cinematography in Arrival is very impressive and while Roger Deakins didn't return for this film, Bradford Young was talented enough to bring a calmer yet haunting look to the film from the empty exteriors of the ship to the ships looming among the 12 cities. Arrival just oozes atmosphere and each shot is build up with great tension like the moments we witness the ships while seeing our characters ready to suit up in order to not get infected with any potential germs on the ship while the music keeps the chills until it hits you. Speaking of music, the score by Jóhan Jóhannsson (hope I spelled his name right) is the best part of the movie with it's subtle ambient sounds, heart-pounding drums and calming piano pieces that sets itself apart from other science fiction scores. Not to mention this composer will also conduct the score for the new Blade Runner movie... Goddamn it Denis! Stop taunting me with your goodness!

That's pretty much all the great things I have to say about the movie... Also, this is the shortest review I ever written so far not counting the Quickies BTW. Arrival is just a really special film that's better to watch it on the big screen by going completely blank without reading the reviews or watching the trailers since they do spoil a big key moment in the film. This is Denis best film yet and a powerful science fiction story worthy to stand among 2001: A Space Odyssey and Blade Runner...


Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Quickie Reviews: The Accountant, Oujia 2 and Trolls

Hello everyone and Happy Late Halloween cause I'm a very late person (story of my life) as October is over while looking back at all the amazing movies released last month... Oh wait, Shin-Godzilla was the only worthy film throughout October... Fuck me. Yep, October for movies has been pretty boring or bad from the unnecessary Inferno film (After the insanity that was Angels & Demons, who the hell wanted this?) to another Madea movie making more money cause audiences are gullible dumbasses who are easy to manipulate by making stereotypical black jokes with a black guy on a fat black woman suit which leds to Tyler Perry making more of these movies. So yeah, I didn't watch that many movies on October but I did catch a few and here are my Quickies for each one in no order. Sit back, read and have fun.


"Meet the lead character you want to strangle with her magic hair for the entire runtime of the movie"

You know the movie Shark Tale? Of course you don't cause we don't want to acknowledge the film's existence. Sadly, Dreamworks brought those horrible memories back with Trolls, a film based off the toys from the 90's filled with pop songs celebrities and a so-called story about "finding your happy place". Trolls is a film that perfectly describes my hatred for how nurtured modern animation in the West has become: Cover songs that don't move the story forward or ruin the charm or freshness of the original songs, gorgeous animation wasted on such a manipulative story while celebrities pander to the audience by yelling "BE HAPPY" through the whole movie, characters yelling as a personality trait and celebrities just phoning their lines cause they're famous. It's such a pile of horseshit, critics are actually praising this film as "fun" and "genuine" as if this movie has anything meaningful to say to the audience and with Dreamworks going all Minions now (it's now owned by Comcast/Universal AKA Chris Meladandri), it seems the studio is fucked regarding creativity or genuine effort in their films. Thus the mighty king falls.

The Accountant:

"He's gonna take you back to the past! To eradicate the shitty films he's starred!"

Ben Affleck had a pretty rough year but that doesn't mean his talents were wasted for nothing and that goes to The Accountant, the film about an autistic man who's a badass killer tracking his target by using their bank records against him while the FBI are tracking him down. Despite the film having a very generic main plot, it's saved by Ben Affleck's top notch performance and an interesting story regarding the main character himself. What I like about the film is the main character cause while he is the mysterious badass we've seen in countless spy thrillers, I really like the scenes where we explore the humanity within this man as we see how he maintained his autistic side when people are around him and seeing himself relive those memories of his childhood are one of the film's best moments that do stick out from the mediocre main plot of the film. Even his action scenes are really damn fun and the interactions between him with other characters is really solid. The problem with The Accountant is these great ideas are stuck in a narrative we all seen before as the film treads along the predictable plot like a spoiled kid dragging his math book to his next class while being a pouty whiner the way through and the ending felt too rushed instead of taking it's time resolving the conflict the first half did very well. Overall, It's a fine little movie with good ideas being shunned for the sake of a predictable main plot and just feeling too standard of a thriller route movie.

Ouija 2 Origin Of Evil:

"LUCY! It's time for your hand-job class!

Wowie! A sequel to a movie everyone hated! Honestly, I never bothered with the first Ouija film cause it looked like shit and guess what? It was shit but made money cause people are easily manipulated by loud noises and thus a prequel was born but made by the same guys who did Oculus, a film I still find the better Blumhouse film out of all the films the company made, and decided to give the film a chance. Boy, what a mistake that was Ouija 2 is the same crappy movie as the first one. Characters being stupid for the sake of being stupid, plot holes appearing out of nowhere without context or be excuses for things to go spooky in the night and sappy dramatic moments that don't feel honest or genuine but come off as manipulative as a chick who can't take criticisms like an adult while lashing out at her fanbase for being sexist monsters (wonder who could that be). Any positives? Well, the film looks nice with the 60's setting and there's less jumpscares now... Still can't save this movie from being a massive fucking borefest to sit through. Bring on Ouija 3: The Evil Within My Intestines And Testicles in 3D!

Trolls: 0/5
The Accountant: 3/5
Ouija 2 Origin Of Evil: 1/5

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Shin-Godzilla Review

Godzilla is one of those franchises with such an incredible history regarded as the big daddy of Japanese Monster Movies. Released in 1954 by TOHO, the first Godzilla film was the most influential monster movie of it's time depicting the monster as a metaphor to nuclear bomb as a god-like creature leaving destruction and death in it's path but later Godzilla films became more goofy action fun with crazier creature designs, out of control destruction, cheesy English dubbing and Godzilla being the monster who defies the laws of gravity and gives the middle finger to physics (he does a flying kick to other monsters, does a victory jump and bitch slaps 1998 Godzilla with his tail... Yeah, that's freaking awesome). In the West, many Hollywood companies tried to adapt Godzilla for western audiences but we got Godzilla, a 1998 adaptation of the franchise by the filmmakers of Independence Day who turned the film into a ID4 cash grab for SONY and was so awful, TOHO re-named that creature as "Zilla" instead. Not to mention the film was originally supposed to be a mix between the original and the goofier Godzilla films by Ted Elliot & Terry Rossio which their script got thrown to the trash in favor of what we got. It wasn't until 2014 when Gareth Edwards delivered us the Godzilla reboot which became the biggest successful American adaptation of TOHO's legendary franchise. As for me, I loved Godzilla 2014 cause it brought back the anticipation and subtlety these big budget action films now lack these days and it was the perfect middle-finger to the 1998 shitfest of a movie. It was so good, TOHO praised it for being the most respectful interpretation of the iconic monster and gave TOHO the much needed confidence to make more Godzilla movies. Hence we got Shin-Godzilla, the film reboot we've been waiting for while the team behind Neon Genesis Evangelion including Hideaki Anno & Shinji Higuchi as directors for the film while Anno wrote the script. With all the history put out for you, I'm still baffled at the movie cause my god... Shin-Godzilla has got to be the biggest surprise I ever encountered and it got me excited for more Godzilla movies. Now THAT is an achievement worth talking.

The plot for Shin-Godzilla is much like every Godzilla film made: Godzilla comes to Tokyo, wrecks shit up, the Japanese military try to stop it but are unsuccessful in defeating the monster and hell breaks loose. The big difference is the film centering around the Japanese bureaucracy making idiotic decisions when it comes to natural disasters and how it backfires right in their faces. Surprisingly, I dug the hell out of these scenes as it establishes Japan as a nation who gave up fighting while letting others do their battles for them but when a menace like Godzilla comes up, they fought back but fail through their own incompetence and they must work together as one to stop the monster before the government drops a bomb to Tokyo. The film even explores the idea of nuclear energy as a source for humanity and how Japan must now "live with it" to use it for mankind's benefit of growing as a society rather than being against it which is a very ballsy move for TOHO. Hell, the entire movie is an expansion on the themes of the original Godzilla movie but with some new twists in it's story and whenever or not you like the ideas presented in the film, there's no denying the sheer raw statements regarding the bureaucratic system of Japan or the controversies regarding nuclear source will hit home with some people but it's this sense of darkness and hopelessness that gives the movie an edge over some generic blockbuster with flashy visuals while pretending to have some story. The characters are very good and while there's too many characters in the film, their interactions with one another makes them like real people rather than caricatures from the goofier Godzilla films and you can relate to their struggles once Godzilla comes to Tokyo as we get sucked into their urgency in protecting the city from a devastating force of nature while the clock is ticking as every second matters with each action gradually becoming more complicated than the last. While the film does have goofy moments with the characters to balance out the dark tone, watching the characters work and plan out how to stop the monster while dealing with all the terrible outcome gives the film a lot of humanity and makes us care for their plight to win back Tokyo.

I also want to give praise for how damn beautiful the film looks. Hideaki Anno's direction is phenomenal with each establishing or overhead shots making us feel like we are really witnessing Godzilla in all it's glory as he embodies destruction whenever he goes and the atmosphere is just bone-chilling like the kind of atmosphere when you know something bad will happen but you just don't where. Every scene with the monster is just an experience like the scene where hid massive tail moving above the japanese citizens which gave me goosebumps or the other where Godzilla is still evolving while wrecking havoc in the city during the first half of the movie (not gonna post the picture but it's best to see it yourself rather than give you the nightmare now) or the scene where Godzilla goes full nuclear to the city resulting in one of the most hauntingly beautiful scenes in any Godzilla movie. Which brings us to the music in Shin-Godzilla and not only it uses the original stock music from composer Akira Ikufube but the score by Evangelion composer Shiro Sagisu is the most refreshing film score to ever grace the screen. From the harsh use of violins, the subtle use of taiko drums, the unnerving dark choirs and calm choirs of death itself, the music just embodies Godzilla as a true god of destruction and it utilized to pure perfection. If there's gonna be another Godzilla film, please bring Yoko Kanno and Kenji Kawai for the score (you know you want it!).

I almost forgot, I haven't spoken about the design Godzilla and mine's not different cause it is horrifying. Actually, that's not right. The real description for this design for Godzilla is to ask Dr. Frankenstein to create the most horrible abomination in existence, steal dead bodies from reptiles, cut their legs and arms, stitch em together into a massive fossil of a T-rex, add nuclear radiation and you got yourself this nightmare fuel for months. From it's sharp piranha teeth, his thick skin and ghoulish red outline gives Godzilla a true feeling of despair as he ravages the city. The near sight from far away as you see Godzilla stumble down the streets will give you chills down your spine (The scene where he annihilates Tokyo scarred me for days). Will they stick to this design in future movies? I don't know but I sure hope so cause I don't think TOHO can't top off this design and it would be suicide if they went the safer route if they eventually re-design Godzilla again cause this design is absolute PERFECTION.

Overall, I really dug Shin-Godzilla. It took what made the original great but expand it's elements to a newer audience just experience the might and wrath of the titular monster for the first time to stand on it's own legs. This is also probably Hideaki Anno's best work by far and I'm curious if he will stick around for future sequels giving the film ends on a haunting note (not gonna spoil it). Since Shin-Godzilla is now successful, we are getting the first ever Godzilla animated movie while being written by Gen Urobochi of Madoka Magica & Psycho-Pass fame...

"My body is ready, TOHO!"


Monday, October 31, 2016

The Wind Rises Review

For over 35 years, Hayao Miyazaki crafted stories and worlds that felt more than just watching animated movies made in Japan but became an experience for audiences to be part of those worlds. I love Hayao Myazaki as a filmmaker and say what you want about his movies being repetitive in it's themes of war & nature but goddamn does his movies always bring me a smile on my face. I'll never forget the beauty of the trees and open fields from My Neighbor Totoro with Totoro flying on it's magical yoyo at night while the girls tag along for the ride, the atmospheric and spiritual world Spirited Away with a young girl learning to cope her obstacles while saving her parents from a terrible curse, the epic battle of man and nature from Princess Mononoke, the cartoony adventure of Lupin in The Castle Of Cagliostro and I will never forget the engaging world of magic and technology Miyazaki crafted in Howl's Moving Castle (That's right, I love Howl's Moving Castle, so bite me). When the news hit regarding The WInd Rises being Miyazaki's last film, I did cry but understood his reasonings over this film being his last work since the man is getting old and he can't direct animated films forever. Hell, the man deserves a damn long rest cause he earned it and looking back on all the work he had to go through, it's no mystery why and I wouldn't mind if Goro Miyazaki (Miyazaki's son who worked on Tales From Earthsea when the author of the book refused Hayao the blessing to direct the film) took over directing duties for his father on possible upcoming Studio Ghibli films. Released back in July 20 2013 in Japan, the film received huge critical acclaim while causing some controversy I will later talk about on the review. After getting out of the showing with a couple of my friends, we were breathless and we had no idea how we could describe the film on words but as for me, there was only one way to describe The Wind Rises.

The Wind Rises is just... just... lovely.

To be sincere, words are weak when describing the pure ambitious scope and scale Miyazaki went with this film. He takes old animation tricks he mastered in the past and just expands on the limitless possibilities hand-drawn animation can be capable off while giving his damn best into crating a wonderful story of dreams and ambitions and in the end, he pulls it off perfectly in the end. Mesmerizing, breathtaking and ambitious, The Wind Rises is Miyazaki's greatest achievement in his career and a fitting end to his legacy he created all those years ago.

The Wind Rises tells a fictionalized story of Jiro Horikoshi, an aircraft designer who created both the Mitsubishi A5M and the Mitsubishi A6M Zero aircrafts used by the Empire Of Japan during WW2 including on the assault on Pearl Harbor. In the film, it tells the story of Jiro's journey into becoming an aircraft designer because he loved planes and he was inspired by the dreams he had about Caproni (his full name his Giovanni Battista Caproni and he is a real life person who worked as an aircraft designer, aeronautical, civil and electrical engineer) and his fascination into creating planes because he wanted man to fly the skies but instead men uses planes for war or their own selfish needs. Later on, we see Jiro working on crafting the best airfighters he can come up with and while he had it's ups and downs, he still kept on going and in the end, he succeeded into making the best planes in his career even if his creations were used for bloodshed.

Now, this is where a lot of people took a lot of criticism over the story in The Wind Rises like the inaccurate portrayal of Jiro, the romance between Jiro and Naoko that never happened in real life or the fact our main character is a man who designed planes to be built as killing machines during WW2. To be honest, I would like to say I barely cared if Miyazaki took historical liberties while making the movie because it is historical fiction and by that I mean it isn't supposed to be accurate to the real life Jiro Horikoshi cause this is his own unique take on the life of the famous aircraft designer while still respecting the hardships the man went through. Look at films like Anonymous, Amadeus, Prince Of Egypt and Titanic. All those films I mentioned are historically inaccurate but they were still good movies because they understood the importance of certain famous historical figures or events and filmmakers do their best into making a film that deals with important people in our human history while taking liberties from the biography of certain real-life people to either make it more dramatic or tell the story but from a different point of view. It's just a movie and people today should stop complaining on how filmmakers handle real life people because in the end, we all know it isn't real and we will always have books or history that tell the actual real life stories of certain historical figures. I also didn't mind the romance subplot between Jiro and Naoko cause those moments with Jiro and Naoko are my favorite throughout the entire film. I love their relationship on how they met or just how cute they play off each other. I won't ruin it for you but man Jiro and Naoko are cute couples together. Also, the main journey of Jiro himself was engaging and to the film's credit you do get to  see the hardships, effort and confidence Jiro went through into making his planes powerful and strong despite his creations being used for war cause in WW2 in Japan, they used planes as weapons or to be designed as bombers. Miyazaki's portrayal of Jiro is about paying respects to the man for working hard in his dreams to become a designer for planes and considering Miyazaki himself loves aircrafts, he does a fantastic job into portraying Jiro's importance to planes without ever going melodramatic on his career or life.

The animation in The Wind Rises is absolutely breathtaking. As if Studio Ghibli movies cannot look any better than this, Miyazaki went balls out on the animation and visual style on the film as the backgrounds look phenomenal, the sheer detail put into the design and colors of the planes (THOSE PLANES LOOK AMAZING IN ANIMATION FORM!) or the wonderful atmosphere the film portrays, The Wind Rises excels in the animation department and offering one of Ghibli's best artistic efforts ever put on an animated film. The animation shines even higher during the fantastical dream sequences evoking an atmosphere that triggers emotions of happiness, calmness and dreadfulness few animated films don't rely on. The music by Joe Hisaishi is pure musical bliss with powerful piano pieces and fantastic use of orchestral music adds an extra layer of depth to an already wonderful journey of dreams and hardships. Since this is the last Miyazaki film, the English dub team had to make sure they would be up for the task on making the best English dub version for The Wind Rises and surprise, the English dub is perfect in every way. Thanks to the wonderful effort of ADR director Gary Rydstrom, who directed the dubs for other Ghibli films like From Up On Poppy Hill and The Secret World Of Arrietty, and it's well chosen cast, the dub is now one of my favorite dubs I've ever had the privilege to listen to. Joseph Gordon Levitt is perfectly casted as Jiro as he delivers a strong performance that not only he proves he is a great actor but expand into different territories of performances aside from doing live-action projects. His lines and emotional deliveries are wonderfully executed and I can't wait to see Gordon tackle on more animated projects in the future. As for the other roles, Emily Blunt was beautifully casted as Naoko and adding a sense of tenderness and warmth into the role while Stanley Tucci was fantastic as Caproni with his Italian accent is spot on, Martin Short was hilarious as Kurokawa and all the other actors including William H. Macy, Elijah Wood, John Krasinski, Werner Herzog, Mae Whitman and Zach Callison were all wonderful in their roles. Hands down, the best English dub the team put on a Studio Ghibli film.

The Wind Rises is a gorgeous masterpiece and a farewell to one of Japan's greatest animator and director of all time. There's not much else to say about the film but you should go see it now cause it is one animated film like no other and it looks like we won't get another one quite like this. Even if the studio outdid themselves with another project, none will match the emotion and beauty of the story about a man who dreamed of building planes for mankind to fly with the clouds.

"The wind is rising. We must try to live" - Paul Valéry

Monday, October 24, 2016

Memories Review

When Akira was released in 1988, Katsuhiro Otomo became a household name in the anime industry and if it wasn't for Akira, the anime industry would have never gained the huge exposure on the West. Later in 1995, Otomo came back to produce an ambitious animation project called Memories, a compilation of anime films that consists on 3 stories all written by Otomo himself and the purpose of this compilation is showcasing different styles of animations and pushing the medium to new heights. The result is a unique experience for those who want to see animation in a way we never see get made in this day & age of oversaturated CG flicks dominating the theaters for decades. Since this is a movie of 3 stories, I will review each anime story separately on this review rather than just review them all at once.

Episode 1: Magnetic Rose:

Directed by Koji Morimoto with a script by Satoshi Kon (Perfect Blue, Millennium Actress, Tokyo Godfathers and Paprika) from an original story by Katsuhiro Otomo and animated by Studio 4C, it's about a group of engineers who received a distress signal from a salvaged ship called Corona with Heintz and Miguel deciding to answer the distress signal from the ship and find out if there are survivors on the salvage. What they found is something more sinister and crueler than reality itself. This is regarded as one of the best parts of the compilations and it's easy to see why. It combines elements of fantasy, science-fiction and horror perfectly while portraying a heartbreaking story dealing with love, eternal loss, betrayal, murder and being blinded by our own reality in life where we rather live our lives where everything we do is flawless by living in a delusional reality rather than admitting your own failures or mistakes. Top it off with breathtaking animation conveying an atmosphere of fear and loneliness that makes Dead Space jealous and a fantastic score by renowned composer Yoko Kanno, Magnetic Rose is a masterpiece both in the story and animation department. This short film is a spellbinding experience from beginning to end.

Episode 2: Stink Bomb:

Directed by Tensai Okamura and animated by Madhouse, this comical short film is about Nobuo Tanaka who's a lab technician battling with a terrible cold and one of his partners decided to tell Nobuo to take a pill from a blue case because they though it was fever medicine that would help Nobuo get rid of the flu. However, what he doesn't know is that once he swallowed the pill, Nobuo becomes a living biological weapon set to destroy everything in his path including Tokyo. This short, while not as strong and perfect as Magnetic Rose, is still a fun story on what would happen if a clueless lab technician became a massive weapon and destroyed everything in his path including people and animals around him. The best part of this short is the epic chase scene as the entire Japanese military army are hellbent on stopping Nobuo from reaching Tokyo with all matter of missiles, tanks and jets which ends up being both hilarious and intense. The animation is very impressive with some gorgeous detail in the character models and excellent use of contrast lighting effects throughout the whole short. While not as strong as Episode 1, Stink Bomb is still an interesting but fun as hell short with some top-notch moments of tension and humor.

Episode 3: Cannon Fodder:

Directed by Katsuhiro Otomo himself and animated by Studio 4C, This is probably one of Otomo's most interesting takes on animation because this entire short film is animated with no editing or scene transitions. The short is basically set in a city with cannons and why? Well apparently, they are fighting against an unknown enemy of some sorts and they decide to shoot with their cannons every day without any use of strategy or patience. What's fascinating about the short is that while nothing really happens a lot in the story, it does talk about an interesting social commentary about humanity's over-reliance to war and how they would rather solve conflicts through firepower rather than working together or use democracy to strengthen society. The animation is also deserves huge kudos for having a different take on animation Otomo used in this short with entire sequence uses no editing tricks with everything being a long animated shot sequence that goes fluid and steady all the way to the end. Overall, it doesn't end with a bang but the animation alone is worth the look and the subtle social statements are really interesting.

On the whole, Memories is a very ambitious compilation of anime films showcasing the amazing use of hand-drawn animation by experimenting with different techniques that will surely be used for future animated projects (which ironically, it's still used today). If you're a big fan of animation, Memories is worth a purchase for Magnetic Rose and it's ambitious animation.


As a whole: 4.5/5 

Short Peace Review

 (This is a review regarding each short film since this is an anthology film. I review each short individually and on their own)

Short Peace is a collaboration project with Katsuhiro Otomo (Akira) & Suda51 (No More Heroes, Killer 7, Lollipop Chainsaw, Shadows of the Damned & Killer Is Dead) centering around stories set in Mount Fuji. Suda51 worked on the game for PS3 while Otomo worked on the compilation shorts with studio Sunrise (the animation company behind Cowboy Bebop, Gundam, Code Geass, The Big O & King of Thorn) was behind the animation on all the shorts. Being the fourth project regarding a series of short films Otomo worked on, It's no surprise Short Peace is another great showcase of unique talent in animation and story at times.


Written and directed by Shurei Morita (Tokyo Ghoul), this short tells the tale of a traveler who's confronted by spirits on a strange shrine during a crazy storm. This short is really beautiful with some pretty inventive scenarios and a great message on kindness and the need to help the unfortunate, even spirits (from what I got in my first viewing). Top it off with some great CG animation by Sunrise (who also animated all the shorts for Short Peace) that looks far superior than recent Sunrise properties (*cough* Valrave *cough*) and imaginative spirit designs with each spirit giving a unique look and charm. Possessions starts the compilation strong and steady and easily, a wonderful short truly deserving the nomination for Best Short FIlm.... Too bad it didn't win squat.


Written and directed by Katsuhiro Otomo, Combustible tells the tragic love story of a firefighter and a geisha as we see their love being impossible due to laws forbid them to be together and a wildfire causes more harm to not only their village but their love. Combustible starts off very calm while introducing the love story of the firefighter and the geisha but certain laws or traditions forbid them to be together which adds tragedy to their situation but during the final act of the film, a fire goes out of control and if you thought it ends on a happy note, the short pulls a 180 as it goes to a much darker & somber path. The art in Combustible is executed perfectly with the art style perfectly depicting the traditional paintings of ancient myths we see from Japan and it looks wonderful (the fire effects look phenomenal). With it's dark third act and beautiful visuals, Combustible is a phenomenal work from Otomo.


Written and directed by Hiroaki Ando from an original story by Katsuhito Ishii (Redline), Gambo tells the story of Gambo, a white polar bear who defends a young child from a royal family against a bloodthirsty demon that wants to harvest young women to re-produce more demons by getting them pregnant. Gambo is brutal. No, I'm not kidding. By reading the synopsis, you're probably thinking it's a really dumb story but trust me, it is damn good and ends with the most bloodiest fights in anime films by far. Plus, the art in Gambo looks beautiful and the designs are top notch (the demon looks pretty fucking boss) and the music is heart-pounding. What can you say but GO GAMBO!!!


Written and directed by Hajime Takoti (mecha designer on the Gundam series) and based off a manga by Katsuhiro Otomo, it's the tale of four men hunting down robots in an apocalyptic Tokyo. Farewell To Weapons is another heart-stopping addition to Short Peace. The moment when they spot a robot, the men quickly assume their positions and start off an epic battle of life or death with every shot building up to an impactful moment that hits you right in the face and boy did I ever love the living crap out of this. I also enjoyed the comedy banter between the 4 men that had a feel of comradery and all of them were likable people. It also ends on a more comedic tone but it didn't bother me cause I had so much fun with this short. Farewell To Weapons ends this series of shorts with a "BANG".

GAMBO: 5/5

As a whole: 4.5/5