Reelanime 2008

July 3rd, 2008 Film, Film Reviews, Xpress

Showcasing the best anime around at the moment, ReelAnime 2008 is storming Luna Palace Cinemas from July 3-16.

The line-up is a collection of big names that plumb depths of themes anime frequently gets pitch perfect and Hollywood struggles to grasp. The most notable is the struggle between humanity and technology, most visible in ReelAnime 2008’s flagship film, Appleseed Ex Machina.

Extrapolating Japanese culture’s personal technology fascination, director Shinji Amaraki literally fuses man and machine at the deepest level and views the line that divides the two on a nanoscale.

Of course, you can look upon Appleseed Ex Machina as a thesis on our loss of humanity if you like, or you can view it as one of the best action movies so far this year — animated or otherwise. How can a film that depicts a world 150 years in the future, a shadowy corporation, cyborgs, a tough young female hero with Hentai eyes, flying cars, showers of automatic weapon casings, a giant floating computer, karate and zombies be anything other than cool?

And if the techno-philosophy and blazing action don’t win you over, maybe the most realistic animated images you’ve ever seen will. Totally CGI and then processed through a process called cel-shading to make it look non photo-realistic, it looks likes a live action movie pasted over with an anime with an anime gloss. Not only does the camera sweep and swing around the action while the backdrop stays in perfect perspective, but real-world gravity wrings its effects on everything from steel to hair. The (ironic) result is a picture that’s incredibly realistic but beautifully rendered anime.

Another highlight is Batman: Gotham Knight. Released to coincide with this year’s The Dark Knight it’s a series of six short films designed to bridge the gap between Nolan’s two films, expanding the mythology. If you saw the early press sketches for the 2004 dud Van Helsing, you’ll remember a masked, black caped figure in a very anime style. It made many fans think it was going to be something other than the flabby mess it turned out to be, but the pics and trailers of Batman: Gotham Knight make similar tonal promises and inspire much more confidence that they’ll deliver.

ReelAnime 2008 will also be screening Vexille, about a Japan of the future locked down and impenetrable by man, machine or satellite signal, and the US special ops team who try to infiltrate the country to crack open an illegal cybernetics program.

On a sweeter note is The Girl Who Leapt Through Time, a whimsical tale of 17-year-old schoolgirl Makato, who finds she can travel back through time. It’s not the first time we’ve seen a story of a character having to repair the damage done by the ripples through history that time travel causes, but from the studio that bought you Death Note and the gorgeous character designs from the name behind Neon Genesis Evangelion, you’ve never seen in like this.


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