2.5 stars (out of 4)

Released 2013 (in Japan)

Here’s an excerpt from the official description of the movie on Funimation’s site: “Kurumi had given up on the world, but a brilliant scientist devised a plan to win her back. By melding futuristic technology with the binary equivalent of human emotion, they created an ultra-lifelike robotic surrogate to take Hal’s place…”

HAL is worth seeing for its gorgeous animation and gentle story of healing after a loss.

Personally, I wasn’t really sold on the plot-twist ending, though. Yes, there were some clues along the way, but it didn’t make any sense. I was also left asking the question: Who was funding this project, and to what purpose? Surely sentient robots which look and act convincingly human would not come cheap.

I have to apologize for the not-timely nature of these posts. HAL was streaming for free at Funimation this past weekend to promote the DVD. Both the subtitled and dubbed versions were available (I watched the sub). But uh, that promotion is over now.


3 stars (out of 4)

Released 2014

GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY is a reasonably enjoyable sci-fi/superhero flick. I liked that it didn’t really take itself seriously. Events that veered into overly dramatic or cheesy territory were quickly and deftly subverted to humourous effect.

Going in, I never expected that a smart-mouthed anthropomorphic raccoon and a tree creature could be so adorable.


3 stars (out of 4)

Released 2013 (in Japan)

This is the filmed version of a contemporary Japanese stage play which mixes elements of traditional kabuki with modern rock sounds in its tale of upheaval, set in the Warring States period following the death of Oda Nobunaga.

First of all, I’ll state that I’m not really into live theatre, so I wasn’t sure how much I would enjoy this. I did, however, find the storytelling and plot twists to be actually quite good. The sword-fighting choreography was very impressive as well, especially when you consider that everything was performed live in front of an audience.