#67: Terminator 2: Judgement Day

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TERMINATOR 2: JUDGEMENT DAY.    That’s it.  That’s the blurb.

Review (43:13)

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#66: The Prodigal Son (1981)

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Special guest Nate Ming joins the Blade Licking Thieves to talk about one of his all time favorite martial arts films, The Prodigal Son (1981), an action comedy romp featuring the mega talents of Yuen Biao, Sammo Hung, Lam Ching-ying, and Frankie Chan.

Review (36:08)

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#65: The Dagger of Kamui

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We chat about the 3-D anime, centered around 1990s arcade nostalgia, Hi Score Girl.  Argue the merits of the Berserk anime before a court of law.  Sally forth into the whimsical world of slimes, heroes, and dragons with the launch of Dragon Quest Your Story.  And, finally, review a hidden gem from 1985, Rintaro’s tragically underappreciated ninja epic: The Dagger of Kamui.

Review (46:10)

If you have questions or comments about the show, please feel free to shoot us an Email or leave a comment below.

Thanks for listening!

#64: Nameless Gangster: Rules of the Time

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We spend an hour talking Tezuka’s Phoenix, Sega’s Yakuza series, and too-horny-for-TheHeat-mecha-show Godannar, among other things, before breaking into our review of director Yoon Jong-bing’s Nameless Gangster: Rules of the Game (2012), which chronicles the rise and fall of two South Korean gangsters (Choi Min-Sik and Ha Jung-woo) during the 80’s and 90’s.

Review (1:03:22)

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Team B #4: Maniac Cop

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BLT Team B review the 80s slasher cult classic, Maniac Cop, starring always a treat Bruce Campbell and man with a huge face Robert Z’Dar!

If you have questions or comments about the show, please feel free to shoot us an Email or leave a comment below.

Thanks for listening!

#63:Versus (2000)

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Dawn from the Anime Nostalgia Podcast joins us to review Ryuhei Kitamura’s break out Japanese action film Versus!

Review (39:48)

Twitter Questions (2:32:05)

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#62: The Girl Who Leapt Through Time (2006)

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We review the 2006 anime film The Girl Who Leapt Through Time from director Mamoru Hosoda: a delightful coming of age comedy / drama loosely based on a story by Paprika writer Yasutaka TsuiTsui about a teen-aged girl named Makoto who discovers she has the ability to quite literally leap through time.

Review (25:45)

Twitter Questions (1:27:58)

If you have questions or comments about the show, please feel free to shoot us an Email or leave a comment below.

Thanks for listening!

#61: Hero (2002)

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Daryl Surat, writer for Otaku USA Magazine and host of the Anime World Order Podcast, joins us on this special “regular” episode for a long chat about stuff we’ve been watching, Chinese action films (and their perpetual mistreatment by western companies), and for a review of Zhang Yimou’s utterly majestic wuxia drama, Hero (2002), starring Jet Li, Maggie Cheung, Tony Leung, Zhang Ziyi, and Donnie Yen.

Review (44:45)

Twitter Questions (2:40:50)

If you have questions or comments about the show, please feel free to shoot us an Email or leave a comment below.

Thanks for listening!

#60: Tokyo Godfathers

 

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We ring in the New Year with a review of Satoshi Kon’s somewhat overlooked Christmas film, Tokyo Godfathers (2003): an animated comedy about three homeless people on a quest to reunite an abandoned baby with its parents that, through a series of wildly improbable, yet seasonally appropriate, coincidences and several generous sprinklings of movie magic, carries with it the promise of salvation for all.

Review (41:05)

Twitter Questions (1:50:02)

If you have questions or comments about the show, please feel free to shoot us an Email or leave a comment below.

Thanks for listening!

Team B #3: Silent Night, Deadly Night Part 2

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Once again proving they are a danger to themselves, BLT Team B willingly dive head first into the pit of darkness that is Holiday themed B-Movies and emerge, bloodied and maimed, with a review of arguably the most well-known film of that odious genre: Silent Night, Deadly Night Part 2.

If you have questions or comments about the show, please feel free to shoot us an Email or leave a comment below.

Thanks for listening!

Spotlight#9: Fan Work with Gabi and Scarlet

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On today’s Spotlight episode, Grant chats with Gabi (@yamineftis) and Scarlet (@scarlet_simply) about creating fan art, writing fan fiction, and doing cosplay of their favorite works.

#59: Rage of Bahamut Genesis

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We review the 2014 fantasy adventure series Rage of Bahamut: Genesis from studio MAPPA and Tiger and Bunny director Keiichi Sato, loosely based on the mobile card game by Japanese developer Cygames.

Review (29:56)

Twitter Questions (1:38:30)

If you have questions or comments about the show, please feel free to shoot us an Email or leave a comment below.

Thanks for listening!

#58: The Happiness of the Katakuris

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It’s the annual Blade Licking Thieves Halloween episode, so, of course, as seems to have become something of a tradition for the show, that means we’re reviewing yet another Takashi Miike film.  This time we’re watching the joyfully bizarre, genre mashup that’s part family drama, part dark comedy, part musical, and many parts absurd: The Happiness of the Katakuris.  Enjoy the show!

Review (42:49)

If you have questions or comments about the show, please feel free to shoot us an Email or leave a comment below.

Thanks for listening!

#57: Red Cliff Part I & II

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In 2008, after a relatively successful stint in Hollywood, John Woo returned to Chinese-language features with Red Cliff Part I & II, a two part epic adapted from arguably the most famous novel in Chinese literature, Romance of the Three Kingdoms. Tune in to hear Grant’s book report on that 1400 page tome along with our thoughts on this nearly five hour film series.

If you have questions or comments about the show, please feel free to shoot us an Email or leave a comment below.

Thanks for listening!

#56: Survive Style 5+

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There’s nothing quite like Survive Style 5+.  With an unusual narrative of five interweaving stories, off the wall humor, tripped out art direction, and an all around odd sensibility to it, this debut film from commercial and music video director Gen Sekiguchi feels just as fresh and exciting today as it did in 2004 the year of its release.  You don’t want to spoil this one for yourself — please go watch the film first, then listen to the review.  Enjoy!

If you have questions or comments about the show, please feel free to shoot us an Email or leave a comment below.

Thanks for listening!

Team B #2: Yor, the Hunter from the Future

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Life keeps finding ways to delay the release of our next show (the Survive Style 5+ episode should be out by end of next week, I promise), but thankfully BLT Team B is here to fill the void with a short review of the truly terrible: Yor: The Hunter from the Future.  I apologize in advance to anyone that tracks down this movie because of us.  Please don’t do that.

If you have questions or comments about the show, please feel free to shoot us an Email or leave a comment below.

Thanks for listening!

#55: Pee-wee’s Big Adventure

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He’s a loner.  A rebel.  And so are we…because Blade Licking Thieves is quite possibly the only podcast daring (or stupid) enough to spend nearly thirty five minutes talking about old 1970’s Tatsunoko cartoons, wuxia-puppet-shows, Godzilla, and the Chinese epic Romance of the Three Kingdoms before completely flipping the script and launching into a review of an american comedy classic like Pee-wee’s Big Adventure.  But then there’s a lot things you don’t know about us.  Things you wouldn’t understand.  Things you couldn’t understand.  Things you shouldn’t understand.

If you have questions or comments about the show, please feel free to shoot us an Email or leave a comment below.

Thanks for listening!

#54: Fatal Fury: The Motion Picture

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Get your quarters ready!  Because we’re traveling back to the early 1990s — a time of flashy arcades, fighting games, Saturday Anime, and peak Masami Obari — to find out whether Fatal Fury: The Motion Picture still possesses the power to… ROCK YOU!

  • Review (19:50)
  • Twitter Questions (1:44:30)

 

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#53: One Piece Film: Strong World

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One Piece Film: Strong World, the 10th film in the franchise but the first to feature designs and story ideas from One Piece creator Eiichiro Oda, catapults the Straw Hat crew onto a mysterious series of floating islands controlled by Shiki, a vicious pirate hailing from the era of Gol D. Roger with plans to destroy all of East Blue.

  • Review (24:25)
  • Twitter Questions (1:41:48)

If you have questions or comments about the show, please feel free to shoot us an Email or leave a comment below.

Thanks for listening!

#52: Godzilla: King of the Monsters

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The Blade Licking Thieves romp, stomp, and skreeonk our way to the box office to check out Legendary Picture’s Godzilla: King of the Monsters.  Tune in to find out whether Hollywood has finally given Goji and friends the justice they deserve!

  • Review (00:00)
  • Twitter Questions (1:05:20)

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Thanks for listening!

#51: Highlander: The Search for Vengeance

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We review Highlander: The Search for Vengeance, an anime continuation of the HIGHLANDER saga. The movie follows immortal Colin MacLeod’s quest for revenge in the future, and is directed by veteran director Yoshiaki Kawajiri (Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust, Ninja Scroll).

  • Intro (00:00)
  • Review (35:57)
  • Twitter Questions (1:33:45)

Links:

If you have questions or comments about the show, please feel free to shoot us an Email or leave a comment below.

Thanks for listening!

Team B #1: Dreamscape

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The regular crew has been too busy to record a “normal” episode, but thankfully BLT Team B are here to fill the void with a review of the little known or remembered movie Dreamscape about a psychic dream walker, played by Dennis Quaid, who, in order to prevent nuclear Armageddon, must battle a giant snake man inside the dreams of the President of the United States – really, that’s what happens.

If you have questions or comments about the show, please feel free to shoot us an Email or leave a comment below.

Thanks for listening!

#50: AKIRA

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Crazy.  It’s our 50th episode.  A big thanks goes out to all of our listeners new and old.  Truly.  We’ve been thrilled by all of your feedback, comments, and responses — please keep them coming — but, more than that, knowing that quite a few of you actually track down and watch the weird, obscure, and sometimes crazy films we discuss here on the show before tuning in to each episode, frankly, means the world to us.  Thank you.

Anyways.

Grant wanted to do something big for our 50th episode, and, well, Katsuhiro Otomo’s AKIRA was and is a big freakin’ deal.  For a certain generation of anime fans, this film was the anime equivalent of the Empire Strikes Back, which is to say, it blew our minds and quickly achieved legendary status.  Honestly, there’s no way our episode about it can measure up, but that didn’t stop us from rambling on and on about the film for well over two hours anyways.  Hope you enjoy the show!

  • Intro (00:00)
  • Review (28:51)
  • Twitter Questions (2:18:14)

If you have questions or comments about the show, please feel free to shoot us an Email or leave a comment below.

Thanks for listening!

#49: Chungking Express

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The romance genre goes art house in Chungking Express, Wong Kar Wai’s two part riff on loneliness, yearning, and the comforts of late night take-out, featuring the talented Tony Leung, Faye Wong, Brigette Lin, and Takeshi Kaneshiro.

  • Intro & News (00:00)
  • Review (30:41)
  • Twitter Questions (1:47:59)

If you have questions or comments about the show, please feel free to shoot us an Email or leave a comment below.

Thanks for listening!

Bonus #3: The Last Dragon (1985)

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Grant is joined by CerealSensei of the Dojo Talk Podcast, CallmeDJM of Anime Podcast of Some Sort, and SentaiFive of Build Casters for a chat about the martial arts cult classic The Last Dragon (1985).

If you have questions or comments about the show, please feel free to shoot us an Email or leave a comment below.

Thanks for listening!

#48: Ip Man (2008)

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Donnie Yen stars as the self-effacing, Wing Chun master of Foshan, Ip Man (2008) in this award winning martial arts drama, loosely based on the early life of Bruce Lee’s famous teacher.

  • Intro (00:00)
  • Review (42:48)
  • Twitter Questions (1:49:13)

If you have questions or comments about the show, please feel free to shoot us an Email or leave a comment below.

Thanks for listening!

#47: Dragon Ball Super: Broly

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After appearing as the overpowered, screaming meathead of villainy — and enduring power fantasy of twelve year old boys worldwide — in not one, not two, but three (count’em) previous Dragon Ball films, Toei producers, through either massive payments of undisclosed cash or a nefarious, undisclosed blackmail scheme, have finally forced series creator Akira Toriyama to officially recognize their most divisive creation with the arrival of the new film Dragon Ball Super: Broly.

Did Toriyama spin a decent yarn?  Did One Piece: Film Z and Dragon Ball Super series director Tatsuya Nagamine bring the goods?  Did Toei animation finally remember how to draw the characters from one of their most enduring and popular franchises ever?  Does wearing a DBZ shirt to the theater amplify your power levels or merely strengthen your body odor?  The BLT crew is back from the theater with all the answers!

  • Intro (00:00)
  • Review (14:56)
  • Twitter Questions (1:00:55)

If you have questions or comments about the show, please feel free to shoot us an Email or leave a comment below.

Thanks for listening!

#46: Lone Wolf and Cub Baby Cart at the River Styx

 

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We jump head first into the wild world of 1970s Japanese cinema with the second installment of the preeminent chambara film series of the decade: Lone Wolf and Cub: Baby Cart at the River Styx!

  • Intro (00:00)
  • Review (35:09)
  • Twitter Questions (1:42:32)

If you have questions or comments about the show, please feel free to shoot us an Email or leave a comment below.

Thanks for listening!

#45: Transformers The Movie (1986)

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Bah weep gragnah weep nini bong?  Bah weep gragnah weep nini bong!

  • Intro (00:00)
  • Review (22:39)
  • Twitter Questions (1:37:23)

If you have questions or comments about the show, please feel free to shoot us an Email or leave a comment below.

Thanks for listening!

#44: Angel Cop

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We review Angel Cop, infamous schlock fest and towering pillar of the ‘not kids stuff’ OVA era, and discover that the true villain was Ichiro Itano all along!

  • Intro (00:00)
  • Review (11:57)
  • Twitter Questions (1:17:50)

If you have questions or comments about the show, please feel free to shoot us an Email or leave a comment below.

Thanks for listening!

Spotlight #8: Wrestling and Anime with Daryl Surat

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Daryl Surat from the essential Anime World Order podcast joins Grant for a chat about wrestling, anime, the surprising connections between the two fandoms, and your twitter questions.

Thanks for listening!

#43: Gintama (2017)

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We review Gintama (2017) the live action film based on the popular, long-running, gag manga by Hideaki Sorachi.

  • What We’ve Been Watching + News (00:00)
  • Review (34:40)
  • Twitter Questions (1:38:50)

If you have questions or comments about the show, please feel free to shoot us an Email or leave a comment below.

Thanks for listening!

#42: King Kong vs Godzilla

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In 1962, before Alien vs Predator, before Freddy vs Jason, before the inevitable Goku vs Superman of future year 2032, Toho studios released the mega-sized, trans pacific, crossover event to crush them all: King Kong vs Godzilla!

  • What We’ve Been Watching + News (00:00)
  • Review (40:40)
  • Twitter Questions (1:28:32)

If you have questions or comments about the show, please feel free to shoot us an Email or leave a comment below.

Thanks for listening!

#41: Face/Off

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Here it is.  Because you, the people, demanded it, we review Face/Off (1997) — John Woo’s absurdly over-the-top American thriller featuring off-the-charts Cage-factor, hundreds of avian extras, and a dual wielding John Travolta in slow-motion.

  • What We’ve Been Watching + News (00:00)
  • Review (28:24)
  • Twitter Questions (1:22:05)

If you have questions or comments about the show, please feel free to shoot us an Email or leave a comment below.

Thanks for listening!

Spotlight #7: Gundam Build Fighters with Dawn and PatzPrime

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Dawn from the Anime Nostalgia podcast and PatzPrime from The Cockpit podcast join Grant for a talk about Gundam Build Fighters + nearly an hour and a half of your Gundam related twitter questions!

  • Introductions + each host’s history with Gundam (00:00)
  • Gundam Build Fighters talk (17:05)
  • Twitter questions galore (36:38)

If you have questions or comments about the show, please feel free to shoot us an Email or leave a comment below.

Thanks for listening!

 

#40: Harakiri

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The orderly, rigid code of bushido smashes up against human feeling in Masaki Kobayashi’s Harakiri (1962), a stunningly trenchant piece of subversive film-making — written by Rashoman and Seven Samurai scribe Shinobu Hashimoto, and starring the great Tatsuya Nakadai — that threatens to demolish the foundational ethos all of samurai cinema is built upon.

  • What We’ve Been Watching + News (00:00)
  • Review (31:25)
  • Twitter Questions (1:46:05)

If you have questions or comments about the show, please feel free to shoot us an Email or leave a comment below.

Thanks for listening!

#39: Hard Boiled

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There’s action-packed.  And then there’s Hard Boiled (1992) — John Woo’s final spectacular outing with superstar Chow Yun-Fat in which gun-toting, rough and tumble detective, Tequila (Yun-Fat) partners with undercover officer Alan (Tony Leung) to take on a villainous gang of gun-running triads.

  • What We’ve Been Watching + News (00:00)
  • Review (33:45)
  • Twitter Questions (1:59:52)

If you have questions or comments about the show, please feel free to shoot us an Email or leave a comment below.

Thanks for listening!

#38: Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind

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We review a classic that needs no introduction: Studio Ghibli’s Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind (1984) from director / writer Hayao Miyazaki.

  • What We’ve Been Watching + News (00:00)
  • Review (35:32)
  • Twitter Questions (1:55:11)

Links:

If you have questions or comments about the show, please feel free to shoot us an Email or leave a comment below.

Thanks for listening!

#37: Blade of the Immortal (2017)

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We review Takashi Miike’s 100th film, Blade of the Immortal (2017), a bloody, over the top, chambara romp, starring Takuya Kimura, Hana Sugisaki, and Sota Fukushi, based on the manga by Hiroaki Samura.

  • What We’ve Been Watching + News (00:00)
  • Review (40:05)
  • Twitter Questions (1:41:35)

If you have questions or comments about the show, please feel free to shoot us an Email or leave a comment below.

Thanks for listening!

#36: Who Am I?

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We review Jackie Chan’s Who Am I?, his last film with Golden Harvest and nearly his last film ever after a few of these stunts – plus Major 2nd for the Three Minute Rule!

Timestamps:

  • What We’ve Been Watching (00:00)
  • Listener Mail (45:45)
  • News (49:32)
  • Review (57:34)
  • Twitter Questions (2:07:08)
  • Three Minute Rule (2:14:08)

If you have questions or comments about the show, please feel free to shoot us an Email or leave a comment below.

Thanks for listening!

#35: One-Armed Swordsman

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Our Shaw Brothers training regimen continues with the bloody saga of Fang Cheng aka the One-Armed Swordsman (1967), a seminal work of wuxia film-making from prolific director Chang Cheh.

Timestamps:

  • What We’ve Been Watching (00:00)
  • Listener Mail (39:12)
  • News (49:53)
  • Review (1:08:35)
  • Three Minute Rule (2:13:01)

Links:

If you have questions or comments about the show, please feel free to shoot us an Email or leave a comment below.

Thanks for listening!

#34: Mazinkaiser

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After a bit of a hiatus, the BLT crew is finally back on the couch with our review of Mazinkaiser, a 2001 OVA follow up to Go Nagai’s popular Mazinger super robot series that Turbo Smasher Punches its way into our hearts.

Timestamps:

  • Review (40:07)
  • Twitter Questions (1:51:03)

Links:

If you have questions or comments about the show, please feel free to shoot us an Email or leave a comment below.

Thanks for listening!

Spotlight #6: Cosplay with Diana (@silencedrowns) and Emma Bowers

 

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We had originally planned to have a review episode out today, but fate intervened and we lost some crucial audio; thankfully, Grant’s been busy as ever, so to tide you over, here’s our latest Spotlight episode in which Grant talks Cosplay with special guests Diana   and Emma   + answers to all of your twitter questions.

Here’s the Rupaul post by Emma’s friend regarding the things drag queens and cosplayers can learn from each other: https://www.therobotsvoice.com/2015/05/10_things_cosplayers_can_learn_from_rupauls_drag_r.php

If you have questions or comments about the show, please feel free to shoot us an Email or leave a comment below.

Thanks for listening!

Spotlight #5: Days of Fandom Past with Dave Merrill

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Today, Grant and Zen are joined by special guest Dave Merrill (aka @terebifunhouse) author of the most excellent Let’s Anime blog for a chat about anime fandom of yesteryear.  We cover everything from clubs and cons, to zines, classic shows, and your twitter questions.  Enjoy!

If you have questions or comments about the show, please feel free to shoot us an Email or leave a comment below.

Thanks for listening!

#33: Devilman Crybaby / Godzilla: Monster Planet

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It’s a Netflix Double Feature, as the Blade Licking Thieves review Devilman Crybaby AND Godzilla: Monster Planet – in one episode!

  • Devilman Crybaby Review (00:00) ; Twitter Questions (1:20:24)
  • Godzilla: Monster Planet Review (1:26:24) ; Twitter Questions (2:02:20)

Links:

If you have questions or comments about the show, please feel free to shoot us an Email or leave a comment below.

Thanks for listening!

#32: Whisper of the Heart

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What We’ve Been Watching / Reading (00:00):

  • Grant embarks on a quest to slay yet another Shonen giant.  This time diving head first into the One Piece manga.  You can find his chapter by chapter reaction thread on twitter right here.
  • Zen has a few things to say about the long awaited release of the first translated Lodoss novel, Record of Lodoss War: The Grey Witch.
  • Finally, Heat has a few “mysteries” for us to solve.

Review (57:57):

We review Studio Ghibli’s Whisper of the Heart (1995), a quiet, thoroughly charming portrait of adolescence with universal resonance directed by the late, great Yoshifumi Kondo.  Tune in for the full review!

Twitter Questions (2:12:42)

Links:

If you have questions or comments about the show, please feel free to shoot us an Email or leave a comment below.

Thanks for listening!

Bonus #2: The Holiday Special (aka Gremlins) with PrimeGundam

gremlins1

Download Link – Bonus Episode 2: The Holiday Special (aka Gremlins)

Download (right click and save asiTunes | Google Play Music | Stitcher | E-mail | Twitter

Special Thanks to @PrimeGundam host / contributor at 3BlackGeeks for being on the show!

Enjoy!

#31: Come Drink with Me

comedrinkwithme01

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Review (38:30):

Although, taken for granted today, King Hu’s Come Drink with Me (1966) set the wuxia genre on a completely new footing.  By turning away from trained martial artists and instead hiring performers from the Beijing Opera school, such as the film’s magnificent female lead Chang Pei Pei, he began the process of transforming the type of action that defined these films away from the world of rigid, practical martial arts towards the more artful, flowing, and graceful form of combative dance that feature so strongly today.  Tune in for our full review of this Shaw Brothers classic that directly inspired Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon!

Links:

If you have questions or comments about the show, please feel free to shoot us an Email or leave a comment below.

Thanks for listening!

#30: The Man with the Iron Fists

manfists

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Review (36:08):

What happens when a super fan of kung-fu films gets to make one of his own? Find out this week as the BLT crew takes on the RZA’s The Man with the Iron Fists.

If you have questions or comments about the show, please feel free to shoot us an Email or leave a comment below.

Thanks for listening!

 

#29: Mind Game

mind game poster

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Review (50:50):

A trigger happy, diaper wearing, soccer player with Yakuza connections goes looking for revenge; an old man lives inside the belly of a whale for thirty years with only a plesiosaur as company; the main character has a foot race against God Almighty and wins!  All of this and more are only to be found in Mind Game, a funny, imaginative, and wonderfully delightful film by animator turned director Masaaki Yuasa.

Links:

If you have questions or comments about the show, please feel free to shoot us an Email or leave a comment below.

Thanks for listening!

 

#28: Pokemon: Lucario and the Mystery of Mew

pokemon poster

Download (right click and save asiTunes | Google Play Music | Stitcher | E-mail | Twitter

The BLT Halloween spooktacular continues with a Treat to follow last episode’s Trick, as the gang sits down to review Pokemon: Lucario and the Mystery of Mew.  We also talk Gundam: The Origin manga, Power Rangers UnleashedUltraman, and answer your twitter questions.

Links:

If you have questions or comments about the show, please feel free to shoot us an Email or leave a comment below.

Thanks for listening!

#27: Audition

auditionjpposter

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Today, we have a special, spooky, Halloween themed episode of BLT for you, as we review the Japanese horror classic, Audition.  We also briefly talk about Blade Runner Black Out 2022Gintama, Kamen Rider W, Lupin Season III, the live action Your Name film announcement, Neo Yokio, and answer your twitter questions.  You can also find our take on another infamous Takashi Miike film, Gozu (reviewed back on episode 20 of the podcast).

If you have questions or comments about the show, please feel free to shoot us an Email or leave a comment below.

Thanks for listening!

#26: Space Adventure Cobra: The Movie

Space Adventure Cobra: The Movie Poster

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Introduction + What we’ve been watching + News (0:00)

Reader Email (29:55):

We attempt to answer your questions about Shin Godzilla, which we reviewed last episode.

Review (42:25):

The space pirate Cobra with his android partner Lady cross the galaxy in search of thrills, treasure, and, yes, adventure!  Cobra first appeared in Weekly Shonen Jump in 1978 and is old school space opera through and through, of the sort found in old pulps of yesteryear, with a dash of Barbarella, Bond, Star Wars, Westerns, and any bizarre idea creator Buichi Terasawa can come up with, thrown into the mix.  The film version followed in 1982.  Produced by Tokyo Movie Shinsha with the backing of the studio’s top talent, such as legendary director Osamu Dezaki, character designer and animation director Akio Sugino, and art director Shichiro Kobayashi, Space Adventure Cobra: The Movie is a kaleidoscopic, tripped out, wild and weird ride from start to finish, featuring some of Dezaki’s most satisfingly “out there” direction.

Twitter Questions (1:47:26)

Links:

If you have questions or comments about the show, please feel free to shoot us an Email or leave a comment below.

Thanks for listening!

#25: Shin Godzilla

Shin Godzilla Poster

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Introduction + News (0:00)

Review (20:40):

Released in 2016 (a full twelve years after Godzilla: Final Wars), Shin Godzilla marks the third reboot of the franchise as the eponymous lizard stomps his way across modern Japan with the Japanese government racing to stop him.  It’s a well worn plot by this point, yet the film’s almost singular focus on the tumultuous bureaucratic response to the crisis — rather than, say, around a few core characters — makes for something that feels fresh and new, while also giving writer and director Hideaki Anno ample time to take aim at the bureaucratic morass that is Japanese government.  As for Godzilla himself — courtesy of veteran VFX director Shinji Higuchi and a new design by Mahiro Maeda — probably not since his original outing in Gojira (1954) has the creature looked so terrifyingly monstrous.

Links:

If you have questions or comments about the show, please feel free to shoot us an Email or leave a comment below.

Thanks for listening!

#24: Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon

Download Link – Episode 24: Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon

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Drop us an Email.  Find Grant on Twitter.

Introduction + News (0:00)

Review (15:09):

In order to bring his vision of the fourth novel in the Crane Iron series to life, Oscar winning director Ang Lee employed the talents of mega-stars Chow Yun-Fat, Michelle Yeoh, and Zhang Ziyi, legendary fight choreographer Yuen Wo Ping, and musical composer Tan Dun.  The results speak for themselves.  Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, an all time classic of the wuxia genre, is still, to this day, the most successful international film, both critically and commercially, to ever hit the states — and rightly so.  Tune in for the full review!

If you have questions or comments about the show, please feel free to shoot us an Email or leave a comment below.

Thanks for listening!

Spotlight #4: Gunpla with Lauren Orsini, Sean O’Mara, and Tom Aznable

gunpla01

Download Link – Spotlight #4: Gunpla with Lauren Orsini, Sean O’Mara, and Tom Aznable

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Grant chats about Gundam model kits and kit making a.k.a. “Gunpla” with mecha enthusiasts Lauren Orsini, Sean O’Mara, and Tom Aznable.  Lauren @laureninspace runs Gunpla101 and Otakujournalist, and is a contributor at Forbes and Anime Feminist.  Sean @colonydrop currently writes about dusty old mecha stuff at his site Zimmerit. Tom can be found on twitter @tomaznable, and also co-hosts the podcast Space Opera Satellite.  Finally, Grant recommends Gundam Planet for good kit prices.  Enjoy!

If you have questions or comments about the show, please feel free to shoot us an Email or leave a comment below.

Thanks for listening!

#23: The Host (2006)

the host poster

Download Link – Episode 23: The Host (2006)

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Introduction + News (0:00)

Review (31:31):

Today, we review The Host (2006), a critical and commercial hit in South Korea and abroad. It comes from director and screenwriter Bong Joon-ho and centers around a family’s quest to retrieve their lost child from the clutches of a giant mutant fish-monster, while battling a dysfunctional and oppressive bureaucracy, and slowly growing into better versions of themselves.

Links:

If you have questions or comments about the show, please feel free to shoot us an Email or leave a comment below.

Thanks for listening!

#22: Dominion Tank Police

Dominion Tank Police OVA

Download Link – Episode 22: Dominion Tank Police

Subscribe to the Blade Licking Thieves podcast on iTunes!

Drop us an Email.  Find Grant on Twitter.

Introduction + What We’ve Been Watching + News (0:00)

Review (40:45):

A four part OVA prequel to the Masamune Shirow manga, Dominion Tank Police stars Leona and her cute, but totally awesome, tank Bonaparte as they fight to take down the criminal Buaku gang.  The first two episodes, written, directed, and story-boarded by Koichi Mashimo showcase a flair for slapstick and comedic humor that arguably outdoes even the original manga in sheer wacky absurd-ism; while the later two episodes, helmed by director Takaaki Ishiyama and, I believe, a separate production staff, take a different posture, trading a bit of the over the top fun of the first half, for a more subdued, surreal, and reflective tone.  Tune in for the full review!

Twitter Questions (1:51:47)

Links:

  • As mentioned in the pre-review, Koichi Mashimo also worked on the fan favorite Irresponsible Captain Tylor, which is now streaming for free on Nozomi Ent.’s Youtube Channel along with, arguably, Mashimo’s most famous work and best work, Dirty Pair: Project Eden which can be found here.

If you have questions or comments about the show, please feel free to shoot us an Email or leave a comment below.

Thanks for listening!

Spotlight #3: Kaijumax with Zander Cannon

 

kaijumaxall

Download Link – Spotlight #3 – Kaijumax with Zander Cannon

Apologies in advance for some of this episode’s audio issues.

Subscribe to the Blade Licking Thieves podcast on iTunes!

Drop us an Email.  Find Grant on Twitter.

We recently had the special privilege of talking with American cartoonist, and Eisner award winning comic author and artist, Zander Cannon about his wonderful series Kaijumax.  A uniquely original prison drama about life on the inside, where the inmates just so happen to be giant monsters a.k.a. Kaiju, Kaijumax is an insanely hilarious comic mashup that’s absurd, gross, hilarious, heartfelt, and filled with enough parodies, homages, and references to please and amuse everyone from battle hardened fans of Kaiju and Tokusatsu to relative newbies alike.

Our conversation together covers Kaijumax, drawing and writing comics, favorite Kaiju films, and a whole heapin’ lot of Toku talk:

00:00 – KaijuMax
32:03 – On creating your own comic
37:52 – What’s next for KaijuMax
41:37 – Tokusatsu discussion
1:17:45 – Twitter questions

You can read a preview of Kaijumax #1 here.

Digital versions are available at Oni-Press and Comixology. Print versions can be found at your local comic shop or available in trade paperback: Kaijumax Season 1 and Kaijumax Season 2. You can find Zander’s other work, including Double Barrel and Heck, over at Top Shelf Comix.

Major thanks again to Zander for being on the show.

If you have questions or comments about the show, please feel free to shoot us an Email or leave a comment below.

Thanks for listening!

 

#21: Fist of the North Star (1986, Film)

fist1

Download Link – Episode 21: Fist of the North Star (1986 Film)

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Drop us an Email.  Find Grant on Twitter.

Intro + What We’ve Been Watching + News (0:00):

Review (36:02):

Fist of the North Star (movie), a remake of the first arc of the TV show (itself a remake of the famous manga by Tetsuo Hara and Buronson), released to Japanese movie-goers in 1986 with greatly improved art and animation over the TV series but also, like almost all anime movie remakes, a heavily cut down plot.  General TV Series director Toyoo Ashida returned to helm the film along with character designer & animation director Masami Suda and many other Toei Animation staff; but, for my money, it’s the soundtrack by classical composer Katsuhisa Hattori and rock group Kodomo Band (“Heart of Darkness”, “Purple Eyes”) that provides the real emotional punch making this absurdly macho, apocalyptic splatter-fest seem almost poignant.  Tune in for the full review!

Twitter Questions (1:57:50)

Links:

If you have questions or comments about the show, please feel free to shoot us an Email or leave a comment below.

Thanks for listening!

Spotlight #2: Captain Harlock with Dawn (Anime Nostalgia) and Cai (@kaijinboyfriend)

captainharlock1

Download Link – Spotlight #2: Captain Harlock with Dawn and Cai

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Drop us an Email.  Find Grant on Twitter.

Since last month we only put one episode out, we’re trying to make up for it this month with an episode each week — that means another guest episode today!

This time Grant talks Space Pirate Captain Harlock with two special guests: Dawn @bunnycartoon, host of the superb Anime Nostalgia podcast, and Cai @kaijinboyfriend, mega Harlock fan and fiction writer (throw a few bucks at his patreon, commision.io, or tips; he’s a great guy and would really appreciate the support).  Together, they reminisce about their first experiences with the franchise, share their love for the titular lead, give the run down on which parts they think worth watching, and even answer a few of your twitter questions.

If you have questions or comments about the show, please feel free to shoot us an Email or leave a comment below.

Thanks for listening!

#20: Gozu

miike-gozu

Download Link – Episode 20: Takashi Miike’s Gozu

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Drop us an Email.  Find Grant on Twitter.

Introduction + What We’ve Been Watching + News (0:00):

Review (51:08):

Today, the thieves take a wrong turn and end up in the incredibly bizarre and unsettling world of Gozu, a film directed by Takashi Miike, who, though, he has since gained a measure of respectability, was once known in the West for his anything goes, flyby night films set predominately in the horror and yakuza genres (of which Gozu, from 2003, is no exception).  The film stars Sho Aikawa and Yuta Sone as two yakuza brothers, Ozaki and Minami that head off from Tokyo towards a small town on some unknown business; however, soon after arriving, Ozaki goes missing, setting Minami off on a quest to find his friend amidst a backdrop freakish residents, bizarre happenings, and even stranger secrets.  This is one weird film.  Tune in, as we unravel the mysteries of Gozu!

If you have questions or comments about the show, please feel free to shoot us an Email or leave a comment below.

Thanks for listening!

Spotlight #1: Patlabor with Sean O’Mara (Colony Drop, Zimmerit)

 

Patlabor

Download Link – Spotlight #1: Patlabor with Sean O’Mara

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Hey all, sorry it’s been a while — life & all that.

Today’s episode is something a little different:  mecha-head and writer/creator of Colony Drop and Zimmerit, Sean O’Mara @ColonyDrop joins us for a discussion all about the unconventional, strange and somewhat impalpable, mecha franchise, Patlabor.   

00:00 – Introductions, Fandom, Colony Drop, and Fanzines

28:01 – Patlabor

Links:

  • Our previous guest episode featuring TheSubtleDoctor (Warui Deshou) is here.

If you have questions or comments about the show, please feel free to shoot us an Email or leave a comment below.

Thanks for listening!

 

 

#19: Samurai Fiction

SFposter

Download Link – Episode 19: Samurai Fiction

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Drop us an Email.  Find Grant on Twitter.

Introduction + What we’ve been watching:

Review (1:09:47):

Hiroyuki Nakano’s Samurai Fiction (1998) is a zany samurai comedy about Peace pretending to be a jidai-geki tale of revenge.  After a skilled swordsman named Kazamatsuri (Japanese rocker and composer for the film, Tomoyasu Hotei) waltzes off with the clan treasure, the rambunctious and young Heishiro (Mitsuru Fukikoshi) sets off in pursuit, hoping to restore his clan’s honor by retrieving the treasure and slaying the thief; however, Heishiro soon finds that revenge is not so easy and requires the help of Hanbei, a master swordsman played by Morio Kazama, and the affection of his lovely young daughter (Tamaki Ogawa), which ultimately forces Heishiro to make a choice between Honor and Pride or Love and Peace!

If you have questions or comments about the show, please feel free to shoot us an Email or leave a comment below.

Thanks for listening!

#18: Police Story

policestoryposter

Download Link – Episode 18: Jackie Chan’s Police Story

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Review (1:04:40):

Raw, brutal, and dare less, Police Story (1985) showcases Hong Kong superstar Jackie Chan’s formidable talents as action star, leading man, writer, and director.  The script written with longtime collaborator Edward Tang, brought to the screen the successful formula of action, martial arts, comedy, and stunt work that would define the rest of Jackie’s career throughout the 80s and 90s. Although, three or more sequels (depending upon whether New Police Story counts) followed, which top the original in various ways, none quite match it for sheer go for broke enthusiasm.

Links:

If you have questions or comments about the show, please feel free to shoot us an Email or leave a comment below.

Thanks for listening!

#17: Ghost in the Shell (2017)

ghost in the shell 2017 poster

Download Link – Episode 17: Ghost in the Shell (2017)

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By sheer happenstance today’s episode is all about American remakes of popular and well regarded Japanese franchises from the 1990s.  Grant starts things off with his thoughts on the new American Power Rangers film.  Then its off to the Cineplex and back again for our review (at 38:22) of the new live action Ghost in the Shell film starring Scarlett Johansson.  Sorry about the crap audio quality during the pre-review part; we didn’t notice my mic problems until after the fact.

Here’s the chart tweeted out by anime designer / director Thomas Romain showing the number of anime series and films being released today compared to years gone by.

Finally, forgot to mention it on the show, but there’s currently a Kickstarter to fund the international Blu-ray release of Masaaki Yuasa’s incredible debut film Mind Game — don’t miss your chance to join the cool kids club!

If you have questions or comments about the show, please feel free to shoot us an Email or leave a comment below.

Thanks for listening!

#16: Paprika

paprika_movieposter

Download Link – Episode 16: Paprika

Subscribe to the Blade Licking Thieves podcast on iTunes!

Drop us an Email.  Find Grant on Twitter.

Intro, What We’ve Been Watching, and News (00:00)

Review (53:04):

2006 saw the release of Satoshi Kon’s final film, Paprika, about a group of scientists slash psychotherapists that use an experimental device called the DC Mini to enter into the dreams of their patients in order to solve their problems; however, when several of the the devices are stolen, the dreams of multiple individuals begin to merge, and the fantastic becomes all too real as the barrier between dreams and the real world begins to crumble.  Tune in for our review!

Links:

If you have questions or comments about the show, please feel free to shoot us an Email or leave a comment below.

Thanks for listening!

#15: REDLINE

redline_poster

Download Link – Episode 14: REDLINE

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Drop us an Email.  Find Grant on Twitter.

Intro and News (00:00):

It’s the 30th Anniversary of Bubblegum Crisis so of course we had to talk about it, and be sure to check out Grant’s article Neon Never Fades: 30 Years of Bubblegum Crisis over at Zimmerit.  Zen gives a follow up to last episode’s review of Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection ‘F’Grant elaborates once again on the madness of super sentai. And because suffering is an activity best shared with friends, Heat took it upon himself to watch Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid.

Review (1:05:55):

Seven years in the making, REDLINE (2009) marks the third collaboration from two of Japan’s best, yet largely underappreciated talents: producer Katsuhito Ishii, known for his quirky, weird, and Tarantino-esque live action films, and director Takeshi Koike, known for his extraordinary animation chops.  Their talents combined with the staff of Studio Madhouse result in a film that, while admittedly a little shallow, accomplishes exactly what it sets out to do: BLOW YOU AWAY.  Yes, friends, Production IG can keep their shitty CG cars for themselves because REDLINE is all about doing the things the hard way: traditional animation done completely by hand with blood, sweat, and tears — just as god intended!  Oh yeah, there’s also enough space aliens to make a Star Wars film blush, cool mechanical designs, off-beat humor, giant-sized pompadours, robo space fascists, kaiju, and a killer soundtrack to go with the oh-so-incredible animation.  Did I just give away the tenor of our review?  Very likely.  Tune in for more slavish REDLINE worship!

Links:

If you have questions or comments about the show, please feel free to shoot us an Email or leave a comment below.

Thanks for listening!

#14: Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection ‘F’

dbz_movie_2015_poster

Download Link – Episode 14: Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection of ‘F’

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Drop us an Email.  Find Grant on Twitter.

Intro and News (00:00):

Voltron Season 2 has Heat excited.  Grant catches us up on the latest Power Rangers shenanigans.  And Zen remarks on Moyocco Anno’s comedy manga, Insufficient Direction about her strange marriage to director Hideaki Anno.

Review (1:04:15):

After his minions gather the titular wishing stones, everyone’s favorite baddie that won’t stay down is resurrected to enact his revenge upon Goku and friends; surely, this time, he will prevail!  As fan fiction as that sounds, Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection of ‘F’ also marks the return of series creator Akira Toriyama to the franchise (following 2013’s Battle of the Gods) making this 2015 entry only the 2nd film to earn its place in official Dragon Ball canon. As might be imagined, the story penned by Toriyama, blends equal parts comedy and action, making for a solid outing that neither breaks new ground or seriously offends but is sure to please long time fans.

Links:

If you have questions or comments about the show, please feel free to shoot us an Email or leave a comment below.

Thanks for listening!

#13: Godzilla vs. Biollante

Godzilla vs Biollante

Download Link – Episode 13: Godzilla vs Biollante

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Drop us an Email.  Find Grant on Twitter.

Intro and News (00:00):

Lamentations on the Winter 2017 anime season, Netflix, and Amazon’s Anime Strike.

Review (34:00):

Two monsters, created by science gone awry, go head to head in the second Godzilla film of the Heisei era: Godzilla vs Biolante.  This follow up to Return of Godzilla or Godzilla 1984, which we reviewed in episode 7, arrived five years after the release of the previous film had under-performed at the box office.  Looking for fresh ideas to revitalize the somewhat moribund franchise, producers at Toho held a public contest in search of a script.  The winning entry, written by a dentist named Shinichiro Kobayashi with a script that largely sidelined the franchise’s typical anti-nuclear bent in favor of a new focus on the emerging threat posed from bio-technology, was heavily rewritten by Director Kazuki Omori to include spies, assassins, and corporate espionage.  The resulting film is a truly a bizarre mishmash of ideas: espionage, deadly assassins, fictional middle eastern countries, mad science, ESPers, military super weapons, and, of course, awesome Kaiju action — it’s a hell of a ride!

Links:

If you have questions or comments about the show, please feel free to shoot us an Email or leave a comment below.

Thanks for listening!

 

 

#12: The Tale of Zatoichi (1962)

The Tale of Zatoichi Poster

Download Link – Episode 12: The Tale of Zatoichi (1962)

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Drop us an Email.  Find Grant on Twitter.

Introduction + News (00:00):

Grant talks about the Winter 2017 season, while I talk mostly about the Spring 2017 season because I mistakenly looked at the wrong chart… Yep, that happened.

Review (44:10):

Since the Zatoichi series spans over 26 films and 100 TV episodes, I figured the original film from 1962, The Tale of Zatoichi, was as good a place as any to start with.  In the director’s chair for our titular character’s first outing is Kenji Misumi who would go on to direct four more Zatoichi films, the Lone Wolf and Cub films, and many other noteworthy titles in the genre.  The real draw of the film, of course, is the irreplaceable Shintaro Katsu, as Zatoichi, an itinerant blind masseuse and gambler, who despite outward appearance, possesses extraordinary sword fighting skills.

If you have questions or comments about the show, please feel free to shoot us an Email or leave a comment below.

Thanks for listening!

 

#11: The 36th Chamber of Shaolin

36th Chamber of Shaolin Poster

Download Link – Episode 11: The 36th Chamber of Shaolin

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Drop us an Email.  Find Grant on Twitter.

Sorry about the poor audio quality.  We had to record part of this episode over Skype.

What We’ve Been Watching (00:00) :

News (24:47)

Review (38:24):

On today’s episode, Grant has us watch the 1978 Shaw Brothers, kung fu classic:  The 36th Chamber of Shaolin by director and fight choreographer Lau Kar-Leung.  The film stars a young Gordon Liu as the iconic San Te, a schoolboy turned Shaolin master in a role that would make the actor famous.  This classic of the genre, which went on to inspire — along with a host of other Shaw Brothers films from the era — everyone from Quentin Tarantino to the Wu-Tang Clan, features a tale of revenge, one of the longest training sequences ever filmed, mystical Buddhist powers, swordplay, pole fighting, three pronged staff fighting, Chinese fisticuffs of every kind, and — oh yes — perhaps the most memorable headbutt ever captured on celluloid!

If you have questions or comments about the show, please feel free to shoot us an Email or leave a comment below.

Thanks for listening!

#10: Metropolis (2001)

metropolis 2001 rintaro poster

Download Link – Episode 10: Metropolis

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Drop us an Email.  Find Grant on Twitter.

We’re back!  Sorry it took so long; the episode is on the longer side to make up for it.

What We’ve Been Watching (0:00:00):

News (1:19:39)

Listener Mail (1:31:20):

Show #8 – Gamera 3: Revenge of Iris follow up!

Review (1:44:07):

For this episode, Heat chose for us to watch the 2001 anime film Metropolis.  A stunning looking and sounding amalgam of Osamu Tezuka’s manga and Fritz Lang’s original silent masterpiece, this Rintaro helmed adaptation — featuring a screenplay by Katsuhiro Otomo and a soundtrack by Toshiyuki Honda — was done with remarkable gusto.  Tune in for our full review, breakdown, and discussion!

Links:

  • My written review of Rintaro’s previous film X: The Movie.
  • A selection of screen caps from Metropolis can be found here.
  • Pause and Select has a great video comparing the different versions of Metropolis here.

If you have questions or comments about the show, please feel free to shoot us an Email or leave a comment below.

Thanks for listening!

Wave Motion Cannon Guest Feature

Yet again, I have been somewhat absent here lately. Life! It happens to the best of us.

But in the mean time I have also written a guest piece over at Wave Motion Cannon. I cover Gundam’s core themes in the context of Gundam Build Fighters. Feel free to check it out, and all of the other fantastic work they do over there:

War is Sell

Bonus #1: Gelato is a Lie! feat. TheSubtleDoctor (Warui Deshou)

Download Link – Bonus Episode 1: Gelato is a Lie! feat. SubtleDoctor

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Today’s episode is a bit different than usual, as we’ve thrown out the usual review episode format and in its place have a special bonus episode featuring guest and friend of the show TheSubtleDoctor.  You can find Doc’s writing at The Fandom Post and the excellent Wave Motion Cannon; or, you can hear him as one of the hosts on the awesome Warui Deshou Podcast — if you haven’t yet checked any of those fine things out, get on it!  So, join us for a mostly thoughtless and very likely ill-informed discussion on a variety  topics we have no business discussing, such as: fanservice, Gundam, the truth behind Gelato, the news, and what the heck is anime anyways?

And Just Because:

If you have questions or comments about the show, please feel free to shoot us an Email or leave a comment below.

Thanks for listening!

 

 

 

Zimmerit Guest Feature

So I have been a bit MIA here the past few weeks due to real life shenanigans weighing me down (work! fmeh!). But in the interim I did have a chance to write a guest article for one of my favorite blogs, and truly one of the best anime resources on the net – Zimmerit.moe

I penned a quick piece about what the Zaku II from Mobile Suit Gundam continues to be a beloved character after so many decades. Check the link below and do yourself a favor – check out the rest of the site, it’s absolutely worth your time.

http://www.zimmerit.moe/the-ms-06-zaku-ii-an-enduring-eye-con/

#9: The Tale of Princess Kaguya

tale of princess kaguya japanese poster

Download Link – Episode 9: The Tale of Princess Kaguya

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What We’ve Been Watching (00:00): 

Zyuranger, Teenage Mutant Ninja TurtlesDriftersYuri on Ice, Izetta, and March Comes in like a Lion.

News (31:14):

  • Dragon Ball Super can at last be found legally streaming on Crunchyroll.
  • Tatsunoko Productions nears its 55th anniversary.
  • Plus our thoughts on colorized manga, Tom and Jerry, and other random nonsense.

Review (54:35)

We discuss Isao Takahata’s absolutely wonderful The Tale of Princess Kaguya.  Released by Studio Ghibli in 2013, the film features utterly unique and spectacular to behold animation by designer Osamu Tanabe, incredible art direction courtesy of Kazuo Oga, and a musical score by legendary composer Joe Hisaishi that’s as majestic as it is mournful.  Thematic depth comes courtesy of Takahata and Riko Sakaguchi’s screenplay, which freshens up this retelling of Japan’s oldest folk tale, The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter, making it feel important and more relevant to modern audiences than ever before.  Of the all the films I watched last year, this was easily my favorite!

Lastly, a small correction: I mentioned in our pre-review how the unorthodox production of My Neighbors the Yamadas led to major dysfunction during the production of Studio Ghibli’s next film — I misspoke; that film was Spirited Away NOT Howl’s Moving Castle. OK, that’s everything.

Enjoy!

If you have questions or comments about the show, please feel free to shoot us an Email or leave a comment below.

Thanks for listening!

 

#8: Gamera 3: The Revenge of Iris

gamera 3 poster

Download Link – Episode 8: Gamera 3 Revenge of Iris

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Random talk (00:00: 

Ultraman Orb, video game Engrish, wrestling, MacrossPower Rangers 

News (26:10):

Review (56:30)

We watch Gamera 3: The Revenge of Iris from 1999, the final film in the Heisei Gamera trilogy.

Links:

If you have questions or comments about the show, please feel free to shoot us an Email or leave a comment below.

Thanks for listening!

Thunderbolt Fantasy Review

Seldom do we find something truly unexpected and exciting in a new season. Certainly there are programs that are exciting because of their animation style, subject matter, or links to other works, but it is rare that a show comes along that can invoke a literal double-take. Thunderbolt Fantasy is one such work.

The premise is well-worn ground at this stage. A vaguely medieval fantasy land, the pursuit of a legendary weapon, ancient dark forces threatening to return, characters with ulterior motives, a quest to save the world… Yes, we have seen these things before, perhaps more times than can be counted. But the truly original and shocking element of Thunderbolt Fantasy is that this show is entirely done with puppets.

kermit
Not those, but close. Maybe just, like, 30% more fabulous.

Thunderbolt Fantasy is a cross-production between Japan and Taiwan. Often retelling historical tales, legends, and folklore, glove puppetry is a long-running tradition in Taiwan. With writer Gen Urobuchi at the helm and the unique presentation of puppetry in lieu of animation or live actors, Thunderbolt Fantasy is a surprising production even with its standard fantasy milieu.

What Works

setting
Human hands built this! Behold!

Practical Effects – The greatest strength of Thunderbolt Fantasy is the use of practical effects. The puppets themselves are absolute works of art, being hand-carved wooden dolls clothed in some outlandish costumes. Sets are spacious and feel fully stocked, no empty wastelands or barren battlefields to be seen. Interior and exterior locales both work equally well, and have an appropriate sense of scale. Even minor details are handled with great care, whether it is the spread of a large dinner table or the debris of an outdoor battle.  The show looks superb, and the fact that all of the characters and items in the show are both real and crafted give the viewer a greater sense of appreciation for the effort involved.

Action – The action sequences in this series are a real delight. The practical effects give the movements of the characters a sense of weight and heft, making the conflicts feel more impactful. Computer generated effects are also in play, but are more for flashy special moves and particle effects than anything else, which amplifies the fantastic spectacle of these sequences. Though it would seem that since the characters are all puppets their fights would seem awkward or constrained due to the limited range of expression, this is not the case.  In fact, the battles are some of the standout moments of the show. For all the fireballs and over the top spells, these moments often feel more authentic than some of the interpersonal character scenes.

Music – Hiroyuki Sawano does phenomenal work with the soundtrack. The music is unmistakably his – driving rhythms, blaring trumpets, mellow downbeats followed by pure bombast almost without transition. While the music feels a bit too familiar at points for fans of say, Gundam Unicorn, there are enough differencws here to help it stand on its own merits. Sawano’s work fits the work perfectly and enhances it, adding to the emotional impact and drama at the high points while providing momentum during the slower segments.

 

What Doesn’t

please-stop
I actually understand less now than before you started talking.

 

Names – There really cannot be a discussion about Thunderbolt Fantasy without bringing up the issue of names. To put it bluntly, it is impossible to remember anyone’s name in this work. The Romanized names in the subtitles are still in the original language, but voice actors use the Japanese versions instead. Given the cooked-in difficulty of pronouncing the translated names and the lack of any sort of audio support for reference, this means that western viewers are basically flying blind when it comes to what anyone or anything is called. In order to help your viewing, I provide my own made up names to assist in your viewing experience.

14172_weblogo
Fancy Puppet Theater

 

ryu
Ryu
belt-neck
Belt Neck
ay-girl-ay
Ay Girl Ay
young-thirsty
Young Thirsty
witchy-witch
Witchy Witch
hawkeye
Hawkeye
darth fabulous.jpg
Darth Fabulous
nails-on-fleek
Nails On Fleek

Thankfully, characters do begin to pick up more interesting titles as the show goes on such as The Enigmatic Gale, Screaming Phoenix Killer, etc. However, by the time this becomes the norm for the majority of the characters, far too much of the show has already gone by. It’s a real testament to the strength of the voice cast and the distinctive look of the puppets that the characters are so memorable, because their names are an active impediment to telling them apart.

Predictability – You could probably guess most of the story beats from the first introduction to the characters, perhaps even earlier. A wandering warrior with a mysterious past who appears to be uncouth and low-born? Hrm, I wonder if he might shock the uptight nobles he travels alongside with martial skill and hidden virtue. A legendary blade sought by an evil group of bandits? Hrm, I wonder if the blade is the key to some dark force that will lead to terrible power beyond the ken of man. Even though there are a few delightful surprises, most of the work is pretty by the numbers and telegraphed far in advance, and the surprises take up too little real estate to have much meaning beyond their initial shock value.

Pacing – The show is generally brisk, but slows down in odd places. The final episode in particular feels like everything gets wrapped up a bit too fast and tidily for the magnitude of the events that are happening. This is only made worse when considering that the show just finished a multi-episode castle sequence with a lot of back and forth that is more tedious than compelling. There are also times when the show moves so swiftly that it seems to rush right past potential character moments or world-building opportunities that are never fully realized. For example, Young Thirsty and Ay Girl Ay have an important connection, but most the screen time is spent exploring his idealism and how it relates to Hawkeye’s more practical view of the world/heroism. Ultimately this may be more a product of the 13-episode constraint, but it is still noticeable.

Overall

Thunderbolt Fantasy Fancy Puppet Theater gets a strong recommendation as a watch for just about any viewer. It is a classic tale that may have few major twists, but is a delight to watch on the strength of its incredible effects and attention to detail. This is one of the most unique looking shows of the season and demonstrates the power of using physical models as a means of telling a story over animation. The fact that it has been given the green light for another season is just icing on the cake, and hopefully future seasons will take more risks with the narrative while continuing to amaze with its visuals.

#7: Return of Godzilla

Return of Godzilla Poster

Download Link – Episode 7: Return of Godzilla

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Drop us an Email.  Find Grant on Twitter.

What we’ve been watching (00:00):

  • JoJo’s Bizarre AdventureLegend of Korra, DC Animated Universe, Space Brothers, Southern Cross, Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress
  • Southern Cross’s “Cosmic Deja Vu  might be the most appropriately titled opening theme song ever.

News (36:15):

Finally, at 1:06:13, the Cold War threatens to turn hot in Toho’s Return of Godzilla, the 1984 franchise reboot, directed by Koji Hashimoto, that kicked off the Heisei era. 

Links: 

If you have questions or comments about the show, please feel free to shoot us an Email or leave a comment below.

Thanks for listening!

Same Song, Second Verse

I have seen Robotech more than twenty times.

This is not an attempt at braggadocio, some vain attempt to impress you with my “old school cred.”

This is not an exaggeration of the truth to make it seem as though my knowledge of a show or the weight of my opinion is vastly greater than anyone else’s.

This is a simple statement of fact. Over the years I have watched Robotech more than twenty times. I love to watch that show, and I revisit it regularly. Even now I am watching Macross in the original Japanese for the second time through, both as a message to Amazon that this sort of content will get them views and also as part of my love of the work.

What is even worse is that this is not the only anime I have seen more than a few times. I have seen Ashram stand atop the burning castle on at least a dozen different occasions. I have walked the claustrophobic corridors of the Star Leaf in search of the invasive blob monster more times than I can count. I have mouthed the words “Ally to good – nightmare to you!” with such regularity I wonder if I really have lost a mondo cool friend in a past life, and am just reliving those final moments like echoes in the timestream

krillin
Too soon, man.

I have rewatched a lot of shows. Why is that, you might ask. Mainly because, in the era before streaming content, we were forced to do so. Fans of anime often could not afford or find everything that they wanted to watch. As such, the tapes (and later DVDs) of shows or movies that you did have were often watched on constant repeat.

Toonami certainly alleviated some of that burden. Here, finally, was a show which brought new anime with some regularity. But Toonami was not always around – I distinctly recall the excitement I had when we even got Cartoon Network in my home town, meaning I no longer had to watch Nic-at-Nite after 7:00 p.m.

TCDGESM EC006
It wasn’t a total loss.

Furthermore, anime on television was not exactly flush with new content. Toonami often replayed shows on heavy rotation – and later adult swim would do so as well. Cowboy Bebop was the background to my early 2000s in the same way that MTV was to the 80s generation.

bebop
I want my MTV!

What I think is important to realize though is how much joy it brought me to rewatch shows I enjoyed. I already knew that I liked them, and could appreciate these works by seeing them over again. Instead of part of my mind being taken up with curiosity or tension at what would happen next, I could focus on smaller details, references, and brilliant flourishes. Rewatching good anime deepened my appreciation for what made those shows so good and why I liked them in the first place.

In 2016 the idea of rewatching a show seems almost ludicrous. “Who has the time?” we all ask, frantically speed-watching dozens of shows each week to keep up with the rapid pace of social media. “I have to know what every funny gif is about! I have to be a part of the conversation!” we tell ourselves. If we find ourselves three weeks behind on a particular show it causes anxiety, a fear of being found out, a sense of nagging doubt. People will think I am a fraud because I am not keeping up!

otaku
Let none doubt the strength of my fist!!!

Is it worth it all? I mean, really, is it? When we force ourselves to incessantly chase the new hotness, to try and keep up with dozens of shows each season, are we really enjoying ourselves? Sure, we find charming new works with surprising animation and twists, but just as often we find ourselves trudging through the mediocre crud that is par for the course these days. We’ve seen it before, we’re not impressed, but we press on anyway.

No wonder people burn out of the anime hobby in such a short time. We have convinced ourselves that peak fandom is half-watching sixteen shows at once whether we like them or not. “But if I don’t watch it now, people won’t be talking about it when I do watch it!” Is that really the strongest argument for forcing ourselves to watch things we aren’t enjoying? If the shelf life for a show is only four months, maybe the show was not even worth watching in the first place. Let’s be honest, even if we could stick to our self-imposed viewing schedules we still could not keep up with the sheer amount of shows coming out each year. Dozens and dozens of programs slip right through our fingers each season and yet we still – by some miraculous event – manage to live another day and still consider ourselves anime fans.

I cannot cure the glut of content. I cannot wave a magic wand and make it so that there are only four new shows in the spring and we can all take a break. But I can recommend something that might actually make you have fun watching something again – go rewatch an old favorite. Pull out that tattered VHS and plug in your VCR that has been collecting dust for years. Find that prized DVD on your shelf that you payed a premium for and give it another watch. Look through your account history and find the stream for that show you just went gaga for two years ago and see if it still holds up.

You might find that you actually enjoy watching anime all over again.

Toku Jukebox – Zyuranger

For today’s jukebox installment we feature the theme from Kyoryu Sentai Zyuranger.

This is the opening theme song to the show which formed the basis for the original Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers. The show features five warriors from the ancient past engaging in battle with Bandora the Witch using the mighty Guardian Beasts who combine to form Daizyuzin – the physical embodiment of the God of their ancient tribes.

daizyuzin
Yes, the Megazord was not a piloted mecha but a sentient being in the original Japanese. Yes, it is as completely boss as it sounds.

The theme itself is a real delight. The early rhythm is low and and steady, building in intensity before strings come to aid the crescendo. Then blaring trumpets reset the pace just before the real theme starts in with lyrics, which takes on a joyous feel with a hint of melancholy as the lyrics weave over a subtle layering of strings and keyboard. Much like the show itself, it is clearly for a childrens’s show(it repeats the show’s name dozens of times) but shows the kind of texture and complexity you would not normally have in this sort of programming (the bridge section has haunting polyphonic chants followed by violins). Like the show itself, this theme really stands out as one of the greats. After two listens you will be humming it to yourself for the rest of the day – you have been warned.

Power Rangers Part 1 – Background

In preparation for the impending Power Rangers film, I will be writing this series on the long running series. Monday I laid out a basic primer in tokusatsu terminology, and for part one of our series I will be discussing the basic background of Power Rangers as a franchise.

No discussion of tokusatsu and worldwide fandom would be complete without Power Rangers. Based on and using footage from Toei’s long-running Super Sentai series – specifically the Zyuranger ­team – it effectively brought the Japanese style of superheroes into mainstream US consciousness, and later the world. Because the Super Sentai suits use full face-covering helmets, the American producers dubbed English dialogue over those scenes. Any plot points or situations involving Japanese actors was cut, and new footage was put in its place with the American cast.

To say Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers was a success would be an understatement. It was the property of 1993, and continued to grow until it even landed a Hollywood movie in 1995… though by that point its star had already begun to wane. After stretching Zyuranger to its absolute limits, having Toei shoot brand new footage, cannibalizing elements from Kakuranger, and various other methods, by the end of the third season MMPR finally began to follow its source material and introduce new suits and themes with seasonal regularity. Power Rangers may not be the all-encompassing cultural force that it was twenty three years ago, but it has continued to run almost without stopping in the intervening years.

Having watched a fair amount of Super Sentai and Power Rangers, it is not hard to see that the former is generally of a much higher quality. If you were to pick a random episode of either and compare them, there is a good chance Super Sentai is just a better put together show than Power Rangers. On the basic tenants of how we usually judge the media that we consume, Power Rangers comes out looking the worse for wear. Whether it’s plot, set design, character development, you name it, Super Sentai is usually a more solid program.

mmpr-thegreencandle
In MMPR this was a neat two part episode. In Zyuranger this was one of the most incredibly tragic and awesome plot points.

However, Power Rangers is not without its merits. To completely disregard Power Rangers because it is typically inferior to its older sibling is not entirely fair. Power Rangers has immense personal and cultural significance. Next time in part two I’ll go into why this show made me into the fan I am today.

Talkin’ Toku

Tokusatsu is an enormous component of worldwide media fandom, and its visibility has increased drastically in recent years. Before I get into some more US-centric news in upcoming posts, I want to lay down a few key terms that run through tokusatsu so that everyone is on the same page.

Tokusatsu – A term that essentially means “special filming,” and roughly refers to anything that involves special effects and would be categorized in the west as science fiction/fantasy. For most people, tokusatsu is “live action things which are exciting and cool.” If you watch an eastern program that has live actors and some things that you want to own a toy or figure of, then it is probably tokusatsu.

Daikaiju – This basically translates to “great monster” or a rough equivalent. This is explicitly referring to film series like Godzilla, Mothra, Gamera, and other giant monster movies. In the west we often simply say kaiju, though in Japanese that term is broad enough to encompass any monster from a werewolf to King Ghidorah.

Sentai – This term means “task force,” and the is part of the title of Toei’s long-running series. This basically refers to the familiar teams of primary colored spandex superheroes.

Henshin – This can mean “transformation” or “metamorphosis” and refers to any hero switching from their normal form into a their hero mode. The ultimate example of this trope is Kamen Rider, who shouts henshin before changing into his heroic self.

With our vocabulary lesson finished, here is a ridiculous video to whet your appetite for more spandex, explosions, and monsters – the glorious train-themed Ressha Sentai ToQger.

 

Upcoming Events

So today’s post is just a quick rundown of some things that are going on in Blade Licking Thieves-land.

First off, expect some extended Super Sentai/Power Rangers discussion over the coming days. I have a number of thoughts related to not only these shows but specifically my thoughts on the upcoming movie and what these franchises represent in both Eastern and Western pop culture. There is a lot of fertile ground for discussions related to tokusatsu and broader anime topics.

Secondly, the Blade Licking Thieves are continuing to produce new podcasts though this weekend’s recording will most likely not happen. Life! It tends to get in the way of fun. In any case we will return to our regularly scheduled programming soon enough.

Lastly, we are working on a number of collaborations at this time. We have a few projects that we are moving forward on that should produce some great crossover content with other podcasts and names in the community. This is really, really exciting, and I personally and stoked to see what comes of that. Hopefully this encourages more opportunities for us to work with the rest of this great community in talking about the things that we love.

Have a good weekend gang, and look forward to some tokusatsu talk come Monday.

Anime Jukebox – Fire Wars

Oh. Oh man. Dear Friends, do you feel it? Sometimes there’s a song that comes along that lights something in your soul. It lights a FIIIIIIIIIIIIIIYA!!!

I’m speaking, of course, of Fire Wars, the opening theme for the Mazinkaiser ova series, masterfully rocked by the legendary JAM Project. 

JAM Project is probably a pretty familiar band if you’re in any way up to speed with the Super Robot Wars game series, as they’ve performed many of the title tracks for that series along with many other super robot shows over the years. Interestingly, the Mazinkaiser super robot owes its origin to the same series, as it was originally introduced in Super Robot Wars F Final.

We’re halfway to Friday, folks. Just sit back, relax, and we’ll be at ‘DON’T WANNA KNOW, EVERYBODY READY GET IT ON!’ in no time.

 

Review – X: The Movie

X is a film not much talked about these days.  Probably because the franchise has been out of the limelight since Clamp put the manga on hiatus way back in 2003, so the film, released in 1996, has had only its reputation to live by — and not a particularly good one.  Upon its US release, fans felt, at best, ambivalence towards it, or, at worst, outright antipathy.  I don’t necessarily intend to argue otherwise — it is indeed a critically flawed film — but, sixteen years later, there’s a lot to admire that was once taken for granted.

The film begins with our protagonist Kamui returning to Tokyo after a long absence.  He’s come to the home of his two childhood friends Fuma and Kotori, but their reunion is cut short by ambassadors from two factions fighting to determine the fate of the world: the Dragons of Heaven, who wish to save humanity, and the Dragons of Earth, who wish to destroy it.  Kamui, wanting only to protect his friends, will be forced to choose a side in the conflict, one that will determine the fate of the world.

When put that way, it sounds simple enough.  Problem is, X has a prodigious cast of seventeen characters and a story that spans volumes and volumes of manga.  Condensing it all into a single, self-contained film was never going to work.

In an interview given to Animerica magazine, Director Rintaro hinted at a few of the difficulties.  According to him, the original screen play written by Mami Watanabe (best known as scriptwriter on Record of Lodoss War) was repeatedly revised by Clamp’s head writer Nanase Okawa.  Finally, it was decided that with only 90 minutes to work with, there was little choice but to anchor the story around the climactic final battle.  Rintaro focused on getting the major scenes right, while Okawa worked to come up with a proper ending for the film.  Subplots by necessity were cut and character introductions were kept short or absent altogether.

x_movie_characters
Some of the characters you won’t get to know while watching X.

For the first time viewer, it’s a bewildering experience akin to watching the final act of a Greek tragedy play out with no knowledge of the previous parts.  “What the hell is going on?”  “Who the hell are all of these people?”  “Why should I care about any of this?”  Are some of the questions you’ll ask as the world of explodes before your eyes in ever more dazzling ways.

The film has so much to juggle — seventeen characters, world building, flashbacks, conflict, and so forth — there’s little time left for crucial character development.  Only the main trio of Kamui, Fuma, and Kotori receive any real attention, mainly through flashbacks from childhood, but even they suffer from a script with out sized ambitions.  As for the other fourteen cast members, forget it; the audience is forced to glean what little it can from their dialogue, look, or demeanor.

Thankfully, the film has a lot more to offer.

Inspired by works like Devilman, Clamps X manga deftly balanced shocking violence alongside startling beauty, and Rintaro’s film follows suit.  It’s very first scene sets the tone: after informing him of his fate, Kamui’s mother disrobes, pulls a blade from her womb, hands it to her son, and then explodes into bloody pieces.   Expect apocalyptic visions, surreal dream worlds, gruesome violence, and a grand tragedy.  And Rintaro works zealously to sell the ensuing drama using all the skill, technique, and know how he can muster.

Technically, the film is first rate.  Shot composition is effective, occasionally inspired.  The editing is seamless.  The visuals stunning.  Yet despite these heroic efforts, the tragedy unfolds without the desired impact.  But given that the script’s deficiencies undercut the drama at every turn, the film is more effective than it has any right to be — a testament to the talents of the director and the rest of the staff.

x_movie_gif2
X is a dark film filled with theatrical violence, arresting imagery, and lots and lots of cherry blossoms.

The film’s wonderful animation, a feast for traditional animation lovers, is another highlight.  Individual tiles slide off rooftops.  Concrete cracks and ruptures.  And in scenes reminiscent of Katsuhiro Otomo’s Akira, skyscrapers explode and crumble, raining down iron and steel, as gigantic plumes of smoke and debris fan out across Tokyo.  Meanwhile, characters’ leap, hover, or fly from one toppled — or soon to be toppled — building to another, pausing only to attack with psychic energy, ki, or the elements.   The resulting images are fluid, detailed, and occasionally mesmerizing.  A lot of talented animators worked on X, and it shows.  Everyone from Madhouse alums like Takeshi Koike, Yoshiaki Kawajiri, and Yutaka Minowa to even Yoshinori Kanada who animates the battle between the cosmic dragons in typical Kanada fashion.

X_Movie
A really cool cut with a final slash that I suspect to be the work of Yoshiaki Kawajiri.

The Art direction by Shuichi Hirata, who also worked on Rintaro’s stunning Metropolis, is no less impressive.  The background artists render incredible cities, apocalyptic landscapes, and a bevy of other battered environments.

x_movie_background

x_movie_background2

The character designer on was Nobuteru Yuki.  While known for his character design work on stuff like Battle Angel, Record of Lodoss War, and Yamato 2199, Yuki is equally adept when working on Shoujo works like Escaflowne, Paradise Kiss, and Kids on the Slope. On X his familiar style is subdued in service of matching Clamp’s original designs, which he modifies ever so subtly, imbuing them with just a dash of his own sensibilities.  His new designs are slightly more masculine, angular, and less ethereal than the originals, yet still suitably elegant –-in short, they’re beautiful.

The original Clamp designs are also worth noting.  Good designers understand instinctively how designs may substitute, like a type of visual short-hand, for character writing.  Think of how, at a glance, a character’s clothes, hairstyle, or demeanor can instantly express their personality, status, or values.  Clamp’s original character designs operate exactly in this way.  For example, Sorata is all flash, with a bright yellow jacket, sunglasses that look like swimming goggles, and a traditional Buddhist necklace.  His outfit reflects his outgoing personality, while his necklace provides insight into his background and origins.  Other characters receive similar attention, and this attention to detail, at the design stage, does compensate, if only a little, for some of the script’s inadequacies.

x_movie_designs
Sorata and Arashi

Another aid to the film is the voice talent.  The performances are solid across the board and the many parts are well cast.  When characters speak for the first time, you’ll think “ah, of course, that’s how they sound” without giving it a second thought.  Tomokazu Seki, playing Kamui, really gives it his all, but I especially enjoyed Sorata, voiced by Koichi Yamadera, whose voice, when he deems it, just oozes cool.

Rintaro has stated that he thinks the music can have just as if not more impact on a film than the script.  That may be right, but it requires the right type of score.  Knowing that, the completely non-traditional score for X, composed by Yasuaki Shimizu, who often scores for live action, is a puzzling choice.  More concerned with creating frightful soundscapes, mood, and tension than trying to match the bombast of the visuals, the strange, atmospheric score Shimizu creates largely dispenses with melody or memorable themes; instead, he uses an assortment of instruments: drums, bells, chimes, the traditional Japanese flute, and the saxophone, along with occasional synths and choral work, to create an eerie, low-key score that mostly bubbles just under the surface.  It’s more keenly suited to the film’s many surreal dream sequences than its other parts, and, for the most part, it barely makes itself heard.  An odd choice.

x_movie_gif1
An inventive scene transition that looks quite stunning.

Rintaro as a director is often said to have as many hits as strikes.  X is definitely a strike but only just.  Given the restraints, the film was likely doomed from the start — how exactly does one cram that much story into a single ninety minute film?  The fact that the film engages at all is the remarkable thing; it’s thanks largely to the sum of its other parts: the capable direction, the gorgeous artwork, the fantastic animation, the arresting visuals, and sheer spectacle of the destructive conflict.  X may be a mess, but it’s a beautiful mess.  Remember Steamboy?  For all its faults, it’s still a pleasure to behold.  X isn’t nearly as grand as that film, but it’s a veritable showcase nonetheless, a feat of pyrotechnics that scratches the same itch.  The appeal is simple: sometimes, like a kid with a firecracker, we just want to watch stuff explode.