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.
It’s been a few months since I last posted a blog entry about the upcoming Rurouni Kenshin live action adaptation that is due in Japanese cinemas this August 25, 2012. Here is the latest 60 second television advertisement along with the full trailer that features new footage not seen in the teaser released at the beginning of the year. Diehard Kenshin fans will no doubt pick up a lot of shots/scenes that seem directly ripped from the manga/anime so here’s hoping the final product is worthy.
Well, last year long suffering anime fans were blessed with the more or less successful reboot of Space Battleship Yamato through the high-budget live action movie starring JDRAMA king, Takuya Kimura. Whatever one thinks of that film the fact remains that anime has always been a compelling source for live-action shows or movies although their quality vacillates wildly from utter junk to cult classics. This year there’s yet another anime favourite that is being translated to the silver screen and no, I’m not talking about the Starz network and Sam Raimi’s Western adaptation of Noir.
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.