It’s apropos and yet somewhat inexplicable that Hayao Miyazaki would end his career on one what is easily his most divisive film. Miyazaki has spent so much of his career delivering masterpieces of animation that discuss the horrible fall out of war, destruction of the environment, and war machines. So it’s absolutely confounding that Miyazaki takes a more objective approach to Jirô Horikoshi and his creation of what would become certified weapons of war.
There’s nothing I hate more than a movie that has so much going for it, but has no idea how to deliver a great narrative. “Promare” is a movie that, by all accounts, should have blown me out of my seat. But by the middle of it, I was counting down the minutes, and waiting for it to get to the point. It’s so sad that a movie that looks so amazing could be so lacking in originality with government corruption, clandestine organizations, and an evil politician who has plans for the world, yadda, yadda. It’s all so old hat for such an epic looking animated movie.
“Legion of Superheroes” arrived during that darker time where “Teen Titans” and “Justice League” had ended their excellent runs and DC was embroiled in a lawsuit over the Superman name. Around this time DC and Warner were attempting to create series less about critical acclaim and more about making merchandise money. “Legion of Super Heroes: The Complete Series” (now on Blu-Ray with all 26 episodes) isn’t a bad series per se, it’s just as grand as “Justice League” or as entertaining as “Teen Titans” was. Even during its entire run, the best episodes were just okay.
I vividly remember watching “The Case of Hana & Alice” for the Fantasia Film Festival in 2015, and it was a movie that managed to stick with me for a while. I wouldn’t call it a masterpiece, but like a lot of its ilk, it’s a movie you have to go in with some knowledge acquired. “The Cast of Hana & Alice” is primarily a prequel, and a loose one at that, but it’s at least charming in its way, and allows a mystery to become the catalyst for an adventure with two best friends one fateful day.
Satoshi Kon’s “Millennium Actress” has become one of the most celebrated animation masterpieces of all time, and for good reason. It’s managed to transcend everything about its medium to convey a tale that everyone can relate to. A big departure from “Perfect Blue,” his grim polemic about fandom, Kon gifts us “Millennium Actress,” a film that is a great and often riveting celebration about life.
I originally checked out “White Snake” when it was at the Fantasia Film Festival last year, and it’s not what I’d call the best anime movie to open 2020 with. While I love and appreciate the brilliant animation, “White Snake” is somewhat of a shallow and dull anime epic that packs in a lot of sub-genres and themes involving demons, war, the supernatural, dragons, and a very exhaustive reliance on ancient mythology. It would probably help the experience of “White Snake,” but having to do research to enjoy a movie is not appealing, even for movies that garner my interest.
“Avatar” was and is one of the most interesting animated epics on television in years. With an industry looking to bring nothing but disposable cartoons and lame comedy even years after its end, it’s rare that we were able to sit and watch animated epics. “Avatar” was engaging, beautiful, and often very emotional. As a person who fancies himself an animation aficionado, it’s rare to find excellent storytelling in the medium anymore beyond movies, and “Avatar” proved me wrong in many instances as a simple children’s fantasy series.
With Disney remaking their remakes of classic fairy tales and adventure novels, stories like “The Jungle Book” are all the rage these days. For folks that want to branch out from the Disney umbrella and check out what other companies have adapted these classic stories, Mill Creek Entertainment releases a collection of animated adaptations of legendary adventures and fantasies. It’s especially good if you’re looking to save a few bucks while expanding your animated horizons beyond the House of Mouse.