Thermae Romae (2012) has got to have one of the most absurd setups I have ever seen about an Ancient Roman bathhouse engineer named Lucius Modestus (Abe Hiroshi) who one day stumbles upon a method of time travel utilizing mystical whirlpools at the bottom of baths that whisks him between Rome circa 128 AD and modern day Japan. Using this funky “hot tub time machine” Lucius learns to appreciate and then incorporate Japanese bath designs into his own with the help of a local aspiring manga creator named Manami ( Aya Ueto). As his renown grows back in his own time period Victus eventually meets the current Roman Emperor Hadrian (Masachika Ichimura), a kindred spirit who also believes that a good old bath experience will somehow enhance the morale of the Empire that is currently under duress from threat of a Barbarian invasion.
Rurouni Kenshin (2012) achieves the impossible by being a near-perfect live action adaptation of a famous manga/anime that will have diehard fans crying tears of joy while newcomers will certainly be sucked into the wonderfully paced narrative that features mostly fully rounded colourful characters and exquisitely shot action sequences. At the same time, the movie pushes its unabashed message of peace and non-violence forward in almost every scene yet director/writer Keishi Ohtomo manages to make it seem organic, as if naturally flowing from the characters and their predicaments rather than needlessly bashing viewers with the moral sledgehammer.
Bioware. Yes, long time readers of this blog will no doubt know this name and if anyone has been following over the last few months they’d understand why as Mass Effect 3 has just about taken over posts and comments sending this site’s hit count soaring. Regardless, this entry is not another Mass Effect 3 analysis but this is about Dragon Age, you know, Bioware’s other big franchise. Simply put, while Mass Effect has taken video game space opera to new heights, Dragon Age is their fantasy equivalent that retains much of the same DNA in crafting a story driven narrative that is highly influenced by player dialogue decision-making.
Imagine if you will twenty years from now that some young hot shot director will suddenly get hit by lightning and decide to tackle a remake of Indiana Jones with all the stylistic trappings intact except for one tectonic change being that the lead character will undergo a gender swap and become female. It’s one thing to reboot or reimagine a long running series by casting younger actors to fill the iconic roles but it’s another thing entirely to drastically shake up the formula by changing the title character’s sex. How would audiences react? How would a sex change redefine the character? Whatever the result the risks are enormous.
Growing up there were two shows which I always wanted to see on TV. It did not matter what I was doing at that particular time since the mere sight of these familiar images popping up on the TV compelled me to sit down to watch whatever episode was on even though I probably had seen each of them a million times. The first show is a no brainer to guess for those who follow my blog especially its first incarnation over on Blogger since the entire website header was emblazoned with the USS Enterprise in all her glory.
Noboru Iguchi’s Robogeisha might have had an insane trailer but the actual movie feels incredibly sedate as he attempts to marry a typical Japanese exploitation film with traditional sappy melodrama resulting in a final product that feels incredibly mundane despite the inclusion of slap-happy action sequences. While it is certainly refreshing to see someone like Iguchi at least attempt to add some needed depth to the various characters it seems somewhat of a misstep considering that an exploitation film relies on every other ingredient from excessive sex and violence to purposely bad dialogue rather than spending hours of film on backstory.
Assault Girls is a thoroughly pedantic exercise in futility that attempts to mesh its underlying human philosophical take on man and the machine with a Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game (MMORPG) setting. The title assumes that viewers will be treated to some sort of action extravaganza featuring beautiful women shooting machine guns or slicing enemies with swords yet it is completely misleading and should in fact be renamed LFG. For those not schooled in MMORPG terms that means “looking for group” and I am dumbfounded that any serious film director or even film student would attempt to create an entire narrative based on one of the most tedious aspects of online gaming.
Tokyo Boy (Tokyo Shonen) is a rather minimalist yet emotionally heartfelt psychological/thriller/romance that once again displays young rising starlet Maki Horikita’s impressive acting repertoire this time in a dual role as a girl who is suffering from split personalities.