It’s never been more popular than to be an anime fan, as now it’s been widely accepted and has become pretty much a mainstream fixture. What was once a niche genre on the fringes, is now something everyone can get in on. Whether it’s PG rated fun, or more complex adult entertainment, it’s there for the taking. Mill Creek repackages some of their anime titles from Sony’s library from 2012 for a 3 DVD series collection of some of the more notable anime series to come out of the gates.
It’s amazing how prophetic Satoshi Kon’s “Perfect Blue” was back in 1997. Even though it was released at the beginning of the internet age, “Perfect Blue” is a very strong and still very relevant tale about rabid fandom, gate keeping, obsession, and the struggles to maintain one’s own sense of self and agency in a world where growing in one’s career means relinquishing our dignity and discretion. In a time where actresses are being chased and harassed off of social platforms, “Perfect Blue” conjures up so much interesting and familiar imagery and plot beats, and ultimately is about the cost of rabid fandom.
I’ve made it no secret about my hatred for anime in the past, but over the years I’ve softened on my stance considerably. I’ve learned to appreciate the genre and medium quite radically. While I would never label myself an anime fan, I definitely have a ton of love for the art form and have fallen in love with Studio Ghibli, and films like “Akira,” “Ghost in the Shell,” “Vampire Hunter D” and the like. When I was offered a chance to review “Anime Impact,” jumped at the opportunity since I wanted to learn more about anime. I also am a big fan of Chris Stuckmann who is easily one of my top ten movie critics on Youtube.
Thirty years after the Muppet Babies made their cinematic debut, it’s been hard to imagine the Muppet franchise without them. They’ve become as big a fixture as their adult counterparts, and other properties have tried mimicking them to a lesser degree. “Baby Looney Tunes,” anyone? Remember “Tom and Jerry Kids” and “Flintstones Kids”? In either case, now with the eighties series in limbo, Disney Junior has revived the property for a new audience offering an educational adventure series with the Muppet Babies, and it’s a nice revamp.
I’ve pretty much gotten over my immense hatred for the watered down reboot of the “Teen Titans” animated series. It’s here to stay, and I’m over it. So I approached the new big screen adventure with an open mind and rock bottom expectations. All things considered “Teen Titans Go! To the Movies” is a mixed bag. Sometimes it hits with some sharp, slick superhero movie and Hollywood satire and truly engaging protagonists. Other times it feels like the writers are running out the clock with goofy filler and distracting musical numbers.
One of the most controversial and heavily disputed comic book events of all time is finally brought to the DC animation universe. It’ll probably also setting up potential movie go arounds for supporting characters within the “Superman: Doomsday” scope. I can imagine if the course is cleared, we could see some overdue attention paid to “Steel.” One can hope. In either case, “The Death of Superman” is pretty much a truncated version of the original mini-series, with a look at the massive event that brought DC to its knees and Superman to death.
Ralph Bakshi’s “Cool World” is a movie without a specific audience in mind, and doesn’t seem to know who it’s appealing to. It’s too dark and adult to be considered another “Who Framed Roger Rabbit?” and much too juvenile to be taken as an adult film. I vividly remember collecting comic books as a kid and seeing full page ads for “Cool World” in every single issue I bought, and yet the movie clearly was not intended for a nine year old, and was too underground for teenagers. In a decade where everyone was trying to be Disney, I doubt many audiences were in the market for a dark erotic animated neo-noir satire involving an animated seductress trying to have sex with her creator so she can become a human.
Steven Spielberg’s adaptation of “Ready Player One” is a fantastic, mind blowing amalgam of “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory,” “Tron,” and “The Matrix” all rolled in to one multicolored strobe of pop culture. You’d think with the rapid fire barrage of pop culture nods and winks to video games, anime, and television series that “Ready Player One” would lose sight of its narrative. In the end, though, Spielberg keeps a firm grip on the novel by Ernest Cline, never once losing sight of what made the original novel such a must read in 2011.