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    The Kingdom of Dreams and Madness

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on January 26th, 2015

    Hello, please allow me to observe you working.”

    A sign bearing those words hangs inside Studio Ghibli, the Japanese animation factory responsible for films like Grave of the Fireflies and My Neighbor Totoro. It’s one of many polite directives that adorn the airy workspace, but it also describes the mission of The Kingdom of Dreams and Madness. The movie gives fans an unprecedented look inside the world (and walls) of Studio Ghibli, and watching the creative process is alternately fascinating, frustrating, and exciting. However, the documentary also surprisingly turns out to be an elegy for a dying art form.
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    Welcome to the Space Show (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on November 12th, 2014

    Welcome to the Space Show looks like what would happen if you combined Steven Spielberg’s E.T. — or the openly-Spielbergian Super 8 and Earth to Echo — with the boundless imagination and quirky charms of anime. The result here is intermittently dazzling, but this particular kid-friendly alien adventure is ultimately less than the sum of its parts.
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    “31 Nights of Terror” A Letter to Momo (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on October 29th, 2014

    As the spookiest holiday of the year draws closer, we’re all probably a little more sensitive to anything that goes bump in the night. Almost every creature associated with Halloween is meant to terrify us, but what if some of those horrific-looking monsters were actually tasked with watching over us? In the Japanese animated drama A Letter to Momo, a young girl encounters a trio of mischievous spirits that only she can see and hear. The monster shenanigans, however, were merely one aspect in what turned out to be one of the more affecting family films I’ve seen this year.
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    Monsuno: Destiny

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on January 3rd, 2013

    “For every dark, a light. For every foe, a friend. For every question, an answer. For every key, a lock.”

    And for every kid-centric animated program, a lucrative line of tie-in toys. Monsuno borrows liberally — the nicest way I know of saying “rips off” — from previous phenomena like Beyblade, Pokemon and Yu-Gi-Oh! Though it primarily exists to help sell derivative trading cards and action figures, the show establishes a surprisingly intriguing world in its first handful of episodes.
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    Marvel Anime: Wolverine – Complete Series

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Michael Durr on August 6th, 2012

    While I have watched a ton of cartoons, the same really can not be said of anime. Sure, I know my classics like Akira, Ghost in the Shell, or Vampire Hunter D but by and large I am not up on my anime. I certainly like it but when I look the shelves and shelves of television episodes or movies, I’m mostly overwhelmed. However, a little bit ago I saw a commercial for some Marvel Anime on G4, I was instantly interested. Little did I know that a couple of the series would end up on my doorstep.
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    Marvel Anime: Blade – Complete Series

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Michael Durr on July 27th, 2012

    While I have watched a ton of cartoons, the same really can not be said of anime. Sure, I know my classics like Akira, Ghost in the Shell, or Vampire Hunter D but by and large I am not up on my anime. I certainly like it but when I look the shelves and shelves of television episodes or movies, I’m mostly overwhelmed. However, a little bit ago I saw a commercial for some Marvel Anime on G4, I was instantly interested. Little did I know that a couple of the series would end up on my doorstep.
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    Redline (Blu-Ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Michael Durr on January 11th, 2012

    To say I am not a big fan of racing is something of an understatement. I never find myself watching the races, Nascar or Indy and could really care less about the sport where you turn left a whole lot. When it comes to cartoons or video games, it is a somewhat different tale since I have enjoyed the show Wacky Races as well as loved to play anything in the Burnout series of video games. So when it came to reviewing the anime film, Redline, I was not sure exactly what to think but looked forward to the review.
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    First Squad: The Moment of Truth (Blu-Ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Michael Durr on January 9th, 2012

    My mother was born in Poland thus making me 50% full Polish. Growing up, I was often told stories about the Second World War and how my grandfather primarily was affected by it. So much so, that he never really spoke of it (I got my stories second hand through my grandmother and mother) most likely due to the horrors endured to the Polish invasion and other unspeakable depictions of violence. Today’s review takes us to an interesting Anime that is set in Russia during the same war with a supernatural feel.
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    Supernatural: The Anime Series (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on August 1st, 2011

    Warner’s Japan unit had decided that it wanted to turn one of its shows into an anime production for the Japanese audience. I guess it shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise that Supernatural would be the perfect fit. Let’s face it. While the production values on the live-action series have always been high, there are certain limitations that exist. With animation you have the ability to go far beyond what you can do with characters played ultimately by human actors.
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    Appleseed Ex Machina

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Michael Durr on April 30th, 2008

    A question to ponder before we head into this review. What do you get when you mix anime or japanese animation with a healthy dose of John Woo? Besides a ton of falling gun shell casing and cute characters performing acrobatics in the air while taking down a dozen bad guys? You get a movie that goes full speed for over a hundred minutes and makes you realize that this is truly the perfect avenue for John Woo and style of films. However, just don’t expect there to be a completely solid story behind it.
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    Paprika

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Michael Durr on December 27th, 2007

    Sometimes I absolutely adore anime. Great action from the far east that breaks boundaries one could only dream of. Or perhaps to tell an engaging story about a love lost long ago. Once in a while, I hate anime unfortunately. This usually occurs when they break no boundaries, tread over the same story or it plays out like hentai (tentacles in places where they don’t belong). So I receive Paprika to review. Hoping I would like it, I quickly stuffed it in my dvd player and found the following:
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    Whisper of the Heart

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Archive Authors on May 11th, 2006

    Whisper of the Heart follows Shizuku, a young girl on the cusp of womanhood as she learns to realize her talents and follow her dreams. She harbors deep admiration for Seiji, a mysterious young man, who shares a strange kinship with her that soon blossoms into love. From the start, Shizuku isn’t sure who she is. She indulges in songwriting and reading. It’s the latter hobby that first links her to Seiji. She starts to notice his name in the histories for every library book she checks out. It seems he’s always …
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    Howl’s Moving Castle

    Posted in Disc Reviews by David Annandale on March 20th, 2006

    Synopsis

    Set in an imaginary European country on the verge of war, in a vague time period that is approximately Edwardian, this is the story of Sophie, a young girl who encounters Howl, the handsome wizard who lives in a gigantic, clattering contraption of a mobile castle. The interest Howl has in Sophie arouses the angry jealousy of the Witch of the Waste (voiced by Lauren Bacall in the English dub), who curses Sophie with instant old age. Sophie, no longer recognized by Howl, takes up residence in …
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    Pom Poko

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Archive Authors on August 21st, 2005

    Synopsis

    When the economic boom in Japan leads to massive deforestation, the raccoons find their habitat threatened. They band together and mount a campaign to stop the destruction of their world by humans. They learn to shape change, and wreak merry havoc with construction crews. Some of their stunts simply frighten the people off, but some of the sabotage is deadly, too.

    The packaging and the “From the Creators of Howl’s Moving Castle” might be a bit misleading in this case. Studio…
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    Astro Boy (2003) – The Complete Series

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Archive Authors on April 4th, 2005

    I’ll start this review with a disclaimer about my Astro Boy knowledge level – for those Astro Boy fans reading this, I’m not an Astro Boy die-hard, and while I have some hazy recollections from my youth, until a few days ago, that’s about where my AB knowledge ended.

    Astro Boy Backgrounder

    The box set reviewed here contains 50 new episodes, released on television in their entirety overseas in, and in part in North America, in 2003. This is in fact the third incarnation of Astro Boy:


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    Cat Returns

    Posted in Disc Reviews by David Annandale on March 10th, 2005

    

    Synopsis

    Poor Haru is have a rough day at school, and it isn’t like this is an exception. She can’t seemto fit in, and is filled with self-doubt. On her way home, she rescues a cat from traffic, and isastonished when the cat speaks to her. It turns out that she rescued the prince of the CatKingdom. By way of thanks, the Cat King decides she should become his son’s bride. Harudoesn’t like this idea. Coming to her aid is the Baron, an elegant cat figurine come to life, alongwith his f…
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    Porco Rosso

    Posted in Disc Reviews by David Annandale on March 3rd, 2005

    

    Synopsis

    The setting is the Adriatic in the 1930s. The hero is a bounty hunter known as Porco Rosso(“The Crimson Pig”), a former Italian seaplane pilot who deserted the post-war military ratherthan join the Fascists, and who, for mysterious reasons, has been cursed to look like a pig. Hemakes his living defending civilians from seaplane pirates, and his activities force the pirates tobring in outside talent: self-obsessed American aviator Curtis. In their first encounter, Porco’seng…
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    Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind

    Posted in Disc Reviews by David Annandale on March 2nd, 2005


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    Synopsis

    Over a thousand years in the future, human civilization has largely collapsed. Most of theplanet is consumed by the Sea of Decay, a forest of toxic spores and giant insects. Only a fewhuman outposts remain. The most idyllic of these is the Valley of the Wind, where the peoplehave learned not to be locked in combat with nature. Nausicaa, the princess of the valley, isparticularly in tune with the insects. The peace in the valley is shattered when it is dragged intothe bitter…
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    Tokyo Godfathers

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Archive Authors on June 18th, 2004

    Apparently inspired by Three Godfathers, the over-sentimental John Ford western from 1948, the “godfathers” here are three homeless Tokyo-ites — Gin, a former professional bicycle racer; Hana, a transvestite; and Miyuki, a young runaway girl — living together in Shinjuku, Tokyo. On Christmas Eve, they find a baby, and embark on a journey that takes them all across the city in order to reunite the baby with its parents, while at the same time bringing their own lives closer to their ultimate destinies. Fun, fast-pac…
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    Wizards

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Archive Authors on June 18th, 2004

    Wizards is a Ralph Bakshi production that is a lot more family friendly than some of his other better known works aka Fritz the Cat and the less said about his adaptation of The Lord of The Rings, the better. Wizards does borrow a lot from the Tolkein classic however, in it’s themes of industrialism versus nature as played out in the classic good versus evil story.

    The story is set in a post-apocalyptic world where an ancient prophet foretells the coming of twins who will battle and the outcome of the con…
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    Cyborg 009 – Uncut & Unedited

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Archive Authors on March 13th, 2004

    Cyborg 009 (pronounced zero zero nine, not double oh nine) is a show about a group of people who are half-human and half-robot – a.k.a. cyborgs. Abducted and experimented on against their will, these cyborgs are revolting against the person who made them, the evil Black Ghost.

    This show has the look of an old fashion anime program. Based on a manga strip that started in 1969, the character designs are from that era, with exaggerated facial features (most evidently big noses), sleek lines and big feet. B…
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    Spirited Away

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Archive Authors on May 3rd, 2003

    Synopsis

    Chihiro is a ten-year-old girl moving to a new home. On the way there, her father takes awrong turn, and they find themselves in an abandoned amusement park. I really don’t want tosay too much, as this is a film whose wonders should be discovered without too muchforeknowledge. Suffice to say that Chihiro soon finds herself in a magical world of spirits,striving to free herself, her parents, and a new friend. Spirited Away is a stunning film, worthyof comparison to Alice in Wonderla…
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    My Neighbor Totoro

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on November 28th, 2002

    

    Synopsis

    Two young children move to a new house with their father. Their mother is in the hospital,but they are hopeful she is getting better. In the garden, they have access to a magical world ofspirit creatures. This is a gentle, warm work, with the same delight in the fantastic as is present inPrincess Mononoke and Spirited Away (though unlike those films, this one can be enjoyed evenby very young children). Sweet but never cloying, moving but never saccharine, funny, andfrequent…
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