BLADE OF THE IMMORTAL

3 stars (out of 4)

Released 2017

An immortal warrior named Manji joins forces with a girl who is out to avenge her murdered family in director Miike Takashi’s 100th film.

I enjoyed the humour that was in the movie, although I personally thought there could have been more of it. Some of the quieter scenes dragged on a bit too, which needlessly slowed the pace in several parts.

But, as far as grand sword fighting spectacles go, BLADE OF THE IMMORTAL delivered what it promised. The body count was astoundingly high. So lots of good fun, in other words.

Rin, the lead girl, was pretty useless though! If she was supposed to be nothing more than a damsel in distress, they should have just made her that. Instead, I got the impression she was one of the better students at her father’s dojo. And she trained for her revenge every day with Manji, only to end up utterly incapable of defending herself! I have to conclude that probably the villain was right when he dismissed her father’s abilities; maybe he (and his sword style) really did suck.

Miss Hokusai

3 stars (out of 4)

Released 2015

Going by the trailer, I was somewhat wary that this biographical film about a famous painter’s daughter might not have much of a plot. I expected that there would be a lot of fantastic eye candy in the form of gorgeous Edo-era scenery, though. And that was pretty much what I got.

The film followed O-Ei’s various experiences, showing her encounters with her fragmented family and with acquaintances in her and her father’s line of work. These anecdotes successfully portrayed our lead character’s charming personality.

Miss Hokusai was very much a slice of life story. While certainly the events were affecting and enjoyable to watch, I didn’t feel that they came together in any unifying theme in the end.

I attended the Miss Hokusai screening with family and we had mixed feelings about the film’s soundtrack. I kind of liked the unexpected use of blues and rock music along with classical piano pieces (not unlike the eclectic soundtrack of another period-setting anime, GARO: Crimson Moon), but my sister would have preferred more traditional instrumentation to accompany the seemingly faithful historical images.

EVANGELION: 3.0 YOU CAN (NOT) REDO.

2 stars (out of 4)

Released 2012 (in Japan)

EVA 3.0 is the third of a proposed 4-film reinterpretation of the classic Neon Genesis Evangelion anime series. I have not seen the original series. However, I have watched the first 2 films and I can’t honestly say I’m a fan of the franchise. I don’t recall feeling anything for the characters and I didn’t find the mecha action to be that engaging either. The inclusion of fanservice was jarring and contributed to my lack of enjoyment of those earlier films. Strangely, EVA 3.0 doesn’t really build on the plot of its predecessors; but if it does anything right, it’s by scaling back the fanservice a lot and substituting BL undertones instead.

On several occasions, the audience broke out laughing at the (presumably) unintentional humour of the budding bromantic relationship between Shinji and Kaworu. That was actually the best part of the whole movie. Not just because it was funny (it was), or that I’m into BL (I’m not, really), but because that was the one part that actually was easy to understand. Having lost the life he knew, it made sense that Shinji would want a friend that he could hang out with and confide in.

A big chunk of the action happens right at the start of the film. Visually, it was nice enough, but beyond the general gist, I found it hard to follow what was going on. Actually, regarding the animation as a whole, the CG looked good, and the cel animation looked more than good, but I felt they didn’t mesh together that well.

In an even bigger chunk of the movie, Shinji mopes around by himself, pondering his existence.

Even though the screening was very late at night, it did hold my attention, surprisingly. I can’t really say, though, that the plot made a lick of sense to me or that I recommend the film to anyone.

WOLF CHILDREN

3 stars (out of 4)

Released 2012

A single mother with limited financial and social resources struggles to care for her family.  All the while, she has to protect the family secret, that her two young children are part-wolf.  Early in the film, we see her facing the challenge of finding a suitable environment to raise her son and daughter in.

As they grow older, the kids must come to terms with their unusual situation and find their paths in life.  And their mother finds herself torn between wanting to protect them and allowing them to make their own decisions, their own mistakes.

Despite the element of fantasy, WOLF CHILDREN tells a realistic story that any family can relate to.  The animation is excellent, as expected.  One highlight for me:  the kids were actually really adorable, especially Yuki.  She was rambunctious, and she had a loud and cute voice to match.