Your Name. Here

hisui_icon_4040_round Makoto Shinkai is a fairly well-known anime director. He has enough name recognition that people outside of the anime community actually know his name. His films regularly appear at film festivals and win a good deal of awards. He even gets the always sort of awkward next Miyazaki title along with Mamoru Hosoda. Overall a fairly enviable career. That said I think his films have always been a hair’s breadth away from being super successful. As I have mentioned they win awards and critical praise but they always seem more art house darlings than blockbusters. But all of that changed last year. Your Name was the fourth highest-grossing film of all time in Japan and the highest-grossing anime film worldwide. In fact, this little joke from the recent Fate/Grand Order short pretty much says it all:

To sum up the scene Your Name is just the go-to reference when you want to talk about financially and critically successful anime.

So with several other anime and manga making reference to the movie, and it generally just getting praise left and right, I really felt a NEED to see this movie. When I was able to see it at the New York International Children’s Film Festival I knew I had to go. Would this be the next 5 Centimeters Per Second or more like the new Children Who Chase Lost Voices?

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PSYCHO-PASS: The Movie—The Part Where We Pretend Season 2 Never Happened

hisui_icon_4040 Hear me out. PSYCHO-PASS: The Movie is Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

Let me explain. The original PSYCHO-PASS is the first Star Wars trilogy. Both of them are science fiction stories that take almost all of their elements from older popular works and then combine them into new if somewhat formulaic story. They both have some major flaws and plot holes but if your will to suspend your disbelief a bit they are highly entertaining and maybe even a bit enlightening. Neither of them is for everyone but they are easy to recommend for a general audience and probably worth watching just so you can talk about them. Also while there are some major and vocal detractors for both of them then both generally got universal praise.

The second season of PSYCHO-PASS is the prequel trilogy. It is just a train wreck that eats away any good will that the original had earned. They really seem to miss what made their predecessor popular and totally botch a good deal of the world building, character development, and thematic resonance from the original. They both started off and the fans tried to convince themselves they were good but by the end most people just hated everything about them. Finally they both turned off a lot of fans who would have otherwise stuck with the series.

So PSYCHO-PASS: The Movie and The Force Awakens had a heavy burden placed upon them. They had to convince everyone who had been burned by what came became before them to give their respective series another chance. The Force Awakens succeeded in that mission amazingly well. Does Psycho-Pass: The Movie do the same?

narutaki_icon_4040 The PSYCHO-PASS movie sees the return of Shinya Kogami, co-protagonist of season one who left before the dust had even settled. Akane grew a lot during that time and when they encounter each other again, it is more as equals.

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The Case of Hana & Alice: The Curse of Anaphylaxis

hisui_icon_4040 Most of the anime films you are going to see are either based on a manga or the extension of an anime TV series. Many anime are based on myths and historical events. Even most of the Ghibli films are based on popular books. On rare occasion you will even see an original story not based on anything. But interestingly enough one of the rarest origins of animated movies has to be taking a live action series and making it an anime. If anything the opposite is almost always the way things go especially with popular josei manga and anime. It is common enough that we have a section for anime that are being turned into live action series in the monthly Line-Up post. Overall it is not that odd when you think about it. You would be thrown off if someone told you the Sex and the City or Breaking Bad prequel was going to be made as a cartoon.

But despite its relative rarity The Case of Hana & Alice is an instance where the anime is actually a prequel to a live action movie. Actually it is a prequel to a live action movie that is based on a series of short films that were made to be Kit Kat commercials. The unusual path to this anime ripples through all of its production from its combination of CG and rotoscoped animation to its idiosyncratic pacing. Yet in the end it uses all of this to explore a quirky character study of friendship and acceptance.

If anything this seems like a lot of time, effort, and technology to tell a story in animation that might otherwise be far more easily told with far simpler live action techniques. Was all of this worth it?

narutaki_icon_4040 Since The Case of Hana & Alice is a film that acts as a prequel to an already existing live action movie, a live action movie that neither of us have seen, the true test of this story would be whether it could stand on its own.

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