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  1. Seoul Station (DVD) (Korea Version) Seoul Station (DVD) (Korea Version) Yeon Sang Ho (Director) | Shim Eun Kyung | Lee Joon | Ryu Seung Ryong
    Having made a name for himself as the leading voice in Korean adult animation with his blistering 2011 debut The King of Pigs and his 2013 follow-up The Fake, the award-winning Yeon Sang-ho returns with Seoul Station. This time around, Yeon marries the kind of biting social criticism that characterises his works with horror genre thrills, following a zombie outbreak in Seoul that starts with the homeless and marginalised living on the streets and under the city's station. After opening with the death of a homeless man from a mysterious bloody bite wound, the film focuses on Hye Sun (Shim Eun-kyung, Hansel and Gretel), a young runaway prostitute living with her useless boyfriend Ki Woong... [read more]
  2. The King of Pigs (DVD) (First Press Limited Edition) (Korea Version) The King of Pigs (DVD) (First Press Limited Edition) (Korea Version) Yeon Sang Ho (Director) | Animation
    South Korea isn't a country traditionally associated with animation, with only a few films like Wonderful Days or the recent kiddie flick Leafie, a Hen into the Wild having gained widespread releases. As such, The King of Pigs, the first feature from director Yeon Sang Ho, is immediately of interest, having won the DGK, Movie Collage and NETPAC awards at the 2011 Busan Film Festival and having screened at Fantasia in 2012 and in the Directors' Fortnight section at Cannes. Though revolving around high school memories, the film is a very adult piece of animation, dealing with the darker elements of human nature and shining a harsh light on the often brutal hierarchies of Korean society. The... [read more]
  3. From Up on Poppy Hill (Blu-ray) (Special Edition) (First Press Limited Edition) (Multi Audio & Subtitled) (Japan Version) From Up on Poppy Hill (Blu-ray) (Special Edition) (First Press Limited Edition) (Multi Audio & Subtitled) (Japan Version) Miyazaki Hayao (Producer) | Okada Junichi | Nagasawa Masami | Miyazaki Goro (Director)
    From Up on Poppy Hill is the latest offering from legendary Japanese animation house Studio Ghibli, and is another in their line of nostalgia themed romances, following up on the likes of Whisper of the Heart and Ocean Waves. Interestingly, the film marks the return of Miyazaki Goro, his first since the disappointingly received fantasy Tales from Earthsea back in 2006, and sees him working and co-scripting with his father Miyazaki Hayao for the first time. Based on a manga by Sayama Tetsuro, the film features the voices of up and coming actress Nagasawa Masami (I Wish) and Okada Junichi of boy band V6 fame as the two leads. The film proved a huge success at the Japanese box office, ranking... [read more]
  4. The Sky Crawlers (Blu-ray) (English Subtitled) (Hong Kong Version) The Sky Crawlers (Blu-ray) (English Subtitled) (Hong Kong Version) Kase Ryo | Oshii Mamoru (Director) | Kuriyama Chiaki | Kikuchi Rinko
    "Somewhere, in a country similar to ours there are children who do not become adults. They are very similar to us" goes the tagline of Mamoru Oshii's latest film. One that carried the promise (during its production cycle) of a more linear form of story telling after the convoluted Ghost in the Shell: Innocence and the strange Tachigui. I am overjoyed to report that while the story is linear, it is anything but straightforward or simple, and not the least bit diluted or dumbed down in regards to his philosophical and social musings - basically the essence of what makes Oshii stand out from his generation of masters of the Japanese animated feature. Using a pastiche of elements from... [read more]
  5. Robot Taekwon V (DVD) (2-Disc) (Special Edition) (Limited Edition) (Korea Version) Robot Taekwon V (DVD) (2-Disc) (Special Edition) (Limited Edition) (Korea Version) Animation
    In July of 1976 well regarded Korean producer Yu Hyun-Mok released the first ever Korean animated science fiction feature film, Robot Taekwon V. With the Japanese occupation of Korea still fresh in many people's minds, the film was a curious beast, on one level a glaringly obvious knock off of Japan's Mazinger Z, while on another level it actually represents a sort of fierce Korean nationalism. With the Japanese characters in the film portrayed as buck-toothed buffoons and the Japanese-inspired robot battling villains with tae kwon do moves while wearing a replica of the helmet Admiral Yi Sunsin wore in the actual historical battles against Japanese annexation, you can actually argue that... [read more]
  6. Storm Rider - Clash of Evils (DVD) (Hong Kong Version) Storm Rider - Clash of Evils (DVD) (Hong Kong Version) Nicholas Tse | Richie Jen | Raymond Lam | Hins Cheung
    If you can't wait for the live-action sequel to Storm Riders, you can satiate your Wind and Cloud lust with Storm Rider - Clash of Evils. Directed by Dante Lam (Beast Cops), this animated feature functions as almost a de-facto sequel to the 1998 Andrew Lau blockbuster. Clash of Evils basically starts where the live-action Storm Riders left off, with orphaned martial artists Wind and Cloud taking on Conquer, the man who murdered their parents in order to make them his disciples and secure his rule of the martial arts world. Wind and Cloud defeat Conquer, but afterwards Wind is possessed by the Kylin Blood, which he obtained when he previously slew the Fire Kylin, a fierce fire beast. The... [read more]
  7. Evangelion: 1.01 You Are (Not) Alone (DVD) (English Subtitled) (Hong Kong Version) Evangelion: 1.01 You Are (Not) Alone (DVD) (English Subtitled) (Hong Kong Version) Anno Hideaki
    It just won't go away. Neon Genesis Evangelion may not win the award for most prolific or long-winded anime, but few anime properties have seen the sustained popularity that Evangelion has. Originally airing in 26 episodes back in the mid-nineties, this combination of giant robots, shonen action, existential angst and manic-depressive self-flagellation has been over for a decade now. Creator Hideaki Anno did return for two films reworking the original series' famously dense and unsatisfactory ending, but for a good long while, Evangelion has been done. However, massive ancillary sales and fan interest say otherwise, with Evangelion living on in everything but animated form. Books, manga,... [read more]
  8. Vexille (DVD) (English Subtitled) (Hong Kong Version) Vexille (DVD) (English Subtitled) (Hong Kong Version) Sori Fumihiko (Director)
    One of the most - if not the most - hotly anticipated anime titles of the year, Vexille is nothing short of a visual feast. The production team behind the hugely successful Appleseed film reunite here for a high concept, high action sci-fi thriller that asks difficult questions about the nature of humanity and is remarkably willing to criticize the current state of Japan, particularly for a big, mainstream Japanese blockbuster. Appleseed producer Sori makes his return to the director's chair for the first time since the live action cult hit Ping Pong and, under his eye, the film makes two very significant improvements over its predecessor though there are also areas where Appleseed is... [read more]
  9. Paprika (2006) (DVD) (Hong Kong Version) Paprika (2006) (DVD) (Hong Kong Version) Kon Satoshi
    Perhaps more than any other filmmaker working today, Japan's Satoshi Kon is an explorer of the subconscious mind. While Tokyo Godfathers stands as an exception to the rule, Kon's work is overwhelmingly concerned with questions of memory, perception and identity. It is territory that Kon works better than anyone else working today and he is in fine form with Paprika, which may very well be his finest work to date. Adapted from a popular novel of the same name, Paprika revolves around a group of experimental scientists who have developed a new psychiatric tool. Known as the DC Mini, the device allows a treating doctor to enter directly into their patient's dream, interacting with them to... [read more]
  10. The Cat Returns / Ghiblies Episode 2 (DVD) (English Subtitled) (Japan Version) The Cat Returns / Ghiblies Episode 2 (DVD) (English Subtitled) (Japan Version) Tamba Tetsuro | Watanabe Tetsu | Hakamada Yoshihiko | Saito Yosuke
    Let me just say up front that The Cat Returns is a delight. I don't mean that in some hippy, old growth forest way. I mean I was so filled with such pure joy on leaving the cinema that I thought my chest would burst. How many films can you say that about? The Cat Returns is everything Disney animation used to be. While the Disney corporate vulture picks at the bones of its former greatness producing corpses that imitate life without the humanity that comes from the soul of imagination, Ghibli gives us a simple, fantastic tale that is suitable for any age. Haru is the beautifully drawn teenage heroine. She is lankier and slightly clumsy which sets her apart from her Studio Ghibli sisters.... [read more]
  11. Robot Taekwon V: 30th Anniversary Restored Edition (DVD) (DTS) (Korea Version) Robot Taekwon V: 30th Anniversary Restored Edition (DVD) (DTS) (Korea Version) Animation
    In July of 1976 well regarded Korean producer Yu Hyun-Mok released the first ever Korean animated science fiction feature film, Robot Taekwon V. With the Japanese occupation of Korea still fresh in many people's minds, the film was a curious beast, on one level a glaringly obvious knock off of Japan's Mazinger Z, while on another level it actually represents a sort of fierce Korean nationalism. With the Japanese characters in the film portrayed as buck-toothed buffoons and the Japanese-inspired robot battling villains with tae kwon do moves while wearing a replica of the helmet Admiral Yi Sunsin wore in the actual historical battles against Japanese annexation, you can actually argue that... [read more]
  12. Hokuro Brothers Full Throttle!!!! (English Subtitled) (Japan Version) Hokuro Brothers Full Throttle!!!! (English Subtitled) (Japan Version) Morishita Yoshiyuki | Ishimine Hajime | Tatsuya Gashuin | Miki Shunichiro
    I hesitate to refer to this as a review for the simple reason that this latest effort by Japanese cult director and animator Katsuhito Ishii - The of Taste of Tea and Funky Forest fame - is incredibly resistant to any attempts at analysis. There is no story, per se, no linear thread tying anything together. It's not a film but a series of animated shorts that exist purely to extend the life of The Mole Brothers, the stand up comedy duo Ishii created for Funky Forest. It is as though Ishii has simply gone and indulged a personal whim and created a very extended in-joke, one which he is now sharing with the public. Happily, though this particular joke will simply baffle most and is by no... [read more]
  13. Innocence - Ghost in the Shell 2 International Version (Japan Version - English Subtitles) Innocence - Ghost in the Shell 2 International Version (Japan Version - English Subtitles) Oki Tamio | Shirow Masamune (Director) | Otsuka Akio | Hiroshi Nakano
    Innocence - Ghost in the Shell 2 is unlike anything you have seen before. The viewer is lost in a sea of lush visuals that seamlessly blend a Blade Runner noir future with traditional Japanese iconography. The level of texture detail is astounding with even the wood grain of a door frame revealing varnished depths. CG is integrated seamlessly. A set piece in a convenience store simply has to be seen to be believed – then confirmed by a friend. Anime has never looked so beautiful. Innocence is such a visual feast that afterwards, I felt like I needed to go on an anime diet. With the disappearance of Major Kusanagi, the story centers around two of her colleagues, the cyborg-enhanced Batou and... [read more]
  14. Tales from Earthsea (DVD) (English Subtitled) (Japan Version) Tales from Earthsea (DVD) (English Subtitled) (Japan Version) Okada Junichi | Miyazaki Goro (Director) | Sugawara Bunta | Kagawa Teruyuki
    In many ways Goro Miyazaki's Tales From Earthsea was a film destined to fail, crushed under the weight of massive expectations. Not only is it a second attempt to adapt a beloved literary franchise, a franchise whose first adaptation was a critical failure publicly torn to shreds by its author, but it is the debut piece of animation directed by a topiary gardener whose father just so happens to be the production company's co-founder and a living legend in the animation world, a legend who publicly criticized his son's selection as director of this project. Put it all together and you had speculation that the younger Miyazaki was in charge of the film in name only, a publicity stunt... [read more]
  15. Aachi & Ssipak (DVD) (Korea Version) Aachi & Ssipak (DVD) (Korea Version) Lim Chang Jung | Hyun Young | Ryoo Seung Bum | Shin Hae Chul
    A highly anticipated animated feature from Korea, Aachi & Ssipak is a frantic, dynamic, and very rude action comedy told with great passion and honesty, though it lacks a little clarity and originality in some respects. Very much an experience that demands to be repeated, and some of the nicest animation I can imagine being turned out these days. It blends clever CGI environments with 2D character animation better than any film I've seen to date. I would recommend this one highly to those who loved the trailer. There's a series of fundamental issues with the storytelling in Aachi & Ssipak. This is either because there's a presumption about our prior knowledge of the characters or because... [read more]
  16. Brave Story (DVD) (Limited Edition) (English Subtitled) (Japan Version) Brave Story (DVD) (Limited Edition) (English Subtitled) (Japan Version) Oizumi Yo | Tokiwa Takako | Matsu Takako | Ito Shiro
    In the fourteen years Gonzo Digimation has been around, they've become one of the most commercially prominent production houses in the animation industry, licensing their franchises the world over, many of them serving as the public face of Japanese pop culture broadcast by the Cartoon Network or released on DVD by companies such as ADV, Geneon or Funimation. Since their first major projects almost a decade ago - working on animated sequences for videogames on the Sega Saturn - one criticism levelled at them time and time again is they lack the narrative skill to match their technical ability; that their series are more concerned with the violence, blockbuster atmospherics and/or melodrama... [read more]
  17. Laputa: Castle in The Sky  (Taiwan Version) Laputa: Castle in The Sky (Taiwan Version) Miyazaki Hayao
    Hayao Miyazaki's follow up to Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind is a distinct change of pace. Perhaps as a reaction to Nausicaa's overly dense plot and general grimness, Miyazaki creates a film that lets its elements breathe. Laputa can almost be viewed as the base clay of Miyazaki's career: it features a surprising number of themes and elements that recur throughout his work. The danger inherent in the abuse of technology is at the core of Nausicaa. There is a fantastic and idealised European setting (actually based on a Miyazaki trip to Wales) that also gets a workout in Kiki's Delivery Service and Porco Rosso. The hugely entertaining and bumbling sky pirates reappear in Porco Rosso. The... [read more]
  18. Cello Hiki no Gauche (Gauche the Cellist) (Japan Version - English Subtitles) Cello Hiki no Gauche (Gauche the Cellist) (Japan Version - English Subtitles) Sasaki Hideki | Amemori Masashi | Shiraishi Fuyumi | Kimotsuki Kenta
    That critically acclaimed animator Isao Takahata fails to draw the same level of attention and popularity as his much more famous business partner and Studio Ghibli co-founder Hayao Miyazaki is no less unfortunate for being understandable. While Miyazaki is a prototypical auteur, creating a body of work immediately recognizable as his own at least as far back as Nausicaa, Takahata has been much more a collaborator through his no less impressive career. While Miyazaki's work has been marked by a consistent approach, Takahata has been much more restless, shifting styles and approaches from project to project with a variety of design and animation styles adopted to suit the needs of the... [read more]
  19. Howl's Moving Castle (Japan Version - English Subtitles) Howl's Moving Castle (Japan Version - English Subtitles) Tatsuya Gashuin | Miwa Akihiro | Kimura Takuya | Harada Daijiro
    You would have expected the release of a new Miyazaki film to generate more attention than Howl's Moving Castle did when it came to western shores. Sure, the man may not yet be a household name round these parts but his previous feature did win an Oscar and you'd think that fact alone would have gotten Howl's a much wider and better publicized release than what it actually received. But when the film released it was without the unanimous acclaim that welcomed Spirited Away. Yes, the critics agreed that the animation was stunning - which it absolutely is, the level of detail and richness of the design is absolutely incredible - but many felt that the script was lacking, that it felt a little... [read more]
  20. Howl's Moving Castle Special Edition (Japan Version - English Subtitles) Howl's Moving Castle Special Edition (Japan Version - English Subtitles) Hisaishi Joe | Tatsuya Gashuin | Miwa Akihiro | Miyazaki Hayao
    Howl's Moving Castle is as charming, as astonishingly detailed, as wonderful and magical as anything Miyazaki has ever offered to date. More fairytale than mythology, the story is based on the work of Diana Wynne Jones, a British fantasy novelist of long and popular standing. Sophie Hatter has a quiet and perfectly satisfying life taking after her name as a hat-maker, that is until the day she meets both a handsome magician and the wicked Witch of the Waste in the same day and her life is turned around - or rather, fast-forwarded, from an 18-year-old girl into a 90-year-old woman's body. And the curse, in the best tradition of fairy tales of old, means that she can tell no one who she... [read more]
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