Pop idol Mima Kirigoe is considering a change to her well established pure and innocent image in order to take her career to the next level. But not everyone is ok with her changing…
Perfect Blue is one of the best movies I’ve ever seen. It’s graphic and uncomfortable in parts, but it all serves to enhance the atmosphere of this incredible psychological thriller. So I was quite interested to read Complete Metamorphosis, the novel the film was based on.
The prologue is extremely disturbing and sets the tone for the coming tale as unflinching when it comes to subject matter. Looking back I’m not sure it was needed, but it wasn’t completely out of place. Be warned though, this novel pulls no punches. A good pace and writing style through most of the book does help immersion and brings all the story elements, both compelling and unsettling, into harmony. The writing/story also holds up surprisingly well, with little outside of a few dated technology and movie references to indicate it’s over 25 years old.
As mentioned above the movie is a psychological thriller, with deepening mystery and heavy themes as reality unravels around Mima. The film is brutal and extremely graphic, but is a step back from horror.
In contrast the book is suspense that turns to horror, with a well done building feeling of impending dread but very little of the nuance of the film story-wise. The characters, setup, and certain other aspects are the same, but there are major differences in how things play out, themes, etc. Also, Complete Metamorphosis goes way over the top towards the end. I’ll avoid further details due to spoilers, but this is a different experience than the movie.
I’m going into depth in the comparison to provide the appropriate context. Adaptations don’t have to be (and in most cases shouldn’t be) exact, and each form should be judged on its own. But speaking as someone who loves a good psychological thriller but generally doesn’t enjoy horror, that subtle but significant difference is important to highlight. The book is an exploration of obsession, and as such is largely successful. The movie does transcend it though in my opinion, expanding into even deeper and more varied territory.
On its own Perfect Blue: Complete Metamorphosis is a solid read (although the end isn’t quite the equal of the buildup), and furthermore is interesting as source material for the film. But if anyone’s interested in Mima’s story I personally recommend WATCHING THE FILM INSTEAD/FIRST. It took this decent tale of obsession and turned it into a masterpiece.
* A small note on the translation. Names are left in what English speakers would call last-first style. Personally I find this jarring when reading in English and feel a good translation should use certain style conventions of the language being translated into. In this review I have used the more traditional English first-last format.
It’s been a year and change since my last spotlight on the work of my favorite artist, and I’d like to share and talk about more of her incredible work and some of the inspirations behind the pieces. See Beautiful Dreamsand Beautiful Dreams 2for more about Juri H. Chinchilla’s art, including past pieces I’ll be mentioning in this write up.
Aoi Kizuki PSC by Juri H. Chinchilla.
Asuka PSC by Juri H. Chinchilla.
Dash Chisako PSC by Juri Chinchilla.
Juri’s Personal Sketch Cards (PSCs) have been a great opportunity to request particular subjects and design elements. One of the more unique requests I’ve made was a card featuring one of my favorite professional wrestlers, and I adored it so much that I’ve followed up with several more since. Juri’s done an AMAZING job depicting these previously unfamiliar to her subjects and these are in many ways the pride of my entire art collection. See Another Wonderful Way Pro-Wrestling is Art 2for more about the above works featuring WWE’s reigning Smackdown Women’s Champion Asuka, Sendai Girls’ phenomenal high flyer Dash Chisako, and the recently retired Happy Maker Aoi Kizuki.
Another favorite of mine also retired in 2018, and Juri’s strikingly posed Misaki Ohata with a wonderful background of venue lights is a great keepsake.
Tokyo Joshi Pro’s Reika Saiki is known as the “Muscle Idol,” and all aspects of her strength and charisma as a wrestler, idol, and body builder are gloriously highlighted in Juri’s drawing.
The last wrestler in this batch was also the first of all. Juri’s first rendition of Mitsuru Konno from Gatoh Move for me featured a great action pose capturing and combining Mitsuru’s strength, determination, grace, and beauty in a remarkable rendition. Equally wonderful is Juri’s quite different recent depiction, featuring Mitsuru in her newer wrestling outfit with a palpable sense of celebration and excitement captured.
With the exception of Dash doing her trademark frog splash, I didn’t specify poses and the layouts, details, and way Juri captured each subject are just wonderful. I couldn’t be happier with how these all turned out.
Juri’s work have are as diverse in creation method as they can be in subject matter. I’ve added a pair of wonderful paintings of hers to my collection, including a striking abstract and an atmospheric, haunting image of night in Rainy Gotham.
Another unique piece is Aquatica, which shows off Juri’s wonderful use of color in a gorgeous image of an original character.
As always Juri’s work for Perna Studios‘ high quality card sets is pitch perfect for the subject matter. I was lucky enough to get some Artist Proofs (APs) from her for their most recent sets. For Witchcraft, I requested a female grim reaper from several artists, and I adore the delicate yet powerful feel Juri brought to her version. In the past I got a witch from Juri with some amazing ravens, so loved the idea of getting Celtic goddess Morrigan for her Classic Mythology III metal AP. Rounding out this group is a graceful moonlight scene featuring my favorite Greek goddess, Artemis, with just a touch of lurking menace as she hunts.
A very different Morrigan was part of one of the Personal Sketch Cards I got previously from Juri, an incredible depiction of the Darkstalkers character with her “sister” Lilith. Morrigan’s an old favorite and one of my most played fighting game characters ever, so I was thrilled to add this larger, equally amazingly done drawing of her to my collection.
Continuing the video game theme are three new PSCs from some of my favorite game series. Makoto from Persona 5 joins my previous PSC of Elizabeth from the third game in that series, with a bold red background complimenting the deep blues of the other card. The wonderful balance of a sense of motion while still posing is a wonderful touch not only in the two Persona cards, but also accentuates Juri’s drawings of Fire Emblem’s Tharja, and Valkyria Chronicles 4’s Riley, as well as the Bombshells version of DC’s Raven and Clare from the manga/anime Claymore. Finally for this time around is a beautiful depiction of two of Juri’s original characters. The cards are all excellent and unique works showcasing Juri’s attention to detail and mastery of color in their own different ways
More information about Juri’s art can be found on her artist page. I hope to continue to follow and collect her wonderous creations for a long time to come. 🙂
I recently put together my first “papercraft” model: an excellent depiction of an iconic image from my favorite Studio Ghibli movie. There are various types of papercraft, with some looking like “traditional” plastic or wooden models as 3D representations of their subjects. This type is instead a series of flat, different colored sections with designs cut out that create a layered image when placed one behind the other with small spacing between the layers.
The envelope for this comes with directions and several mini sheets of sturdy paper with designs cut into them. Some models are marked with “English instructions included,” but this one only had Japanese instructions. But the pictures show all the pieces needed at each step and the pieces are labeled on their punchcards with the “layer” they belong on so there’s sufficient guidance provided to complete the model even with the language barrier.
I did look up English directions for a similar papercraft and the only thing that would have been overlooked otherwise is a wise suggestion to apply glue the “non-visible” side of whatever is being glues together (so to the base layer if attaching a piece to the back of the layer, and to the back of the piece if it’s being glued to the front of a layer), and the suggested tool list which I’ll discuss below.
To achieve minor visual details that really bring the image to life some of the pieces are TINY and admittedly quite difficult to cut out, keep intact, and paste together. So while for the first few pieces it seemed I’d be ok just using my hands and the hobby glue bottle directly, the additional recommended tools of an exacto knife (for removing the small pieces from the punchcards), tweezers (to hold and position pieces), and toothpick and/or small glue brush (for applying glue) are essential. One or two pieces were so small and delicate I almost destroyed them, but it all worked out in the end and wasn’t difficult to put together overall with some patience and care. It took me about an hour and the result looks fantastic.
While the model is nice and stable once together and doesn’t require a case, they are available and I’m happy with having a bit of protection against both damage and dust as well as how it looks. I got a light up version for this one and the soft, alternating color lights poking through the tiny exposed areas in the completed piece looks amazing. Really pleased with this and will likely try more in the future.
Hajime Kindaichi, grandson of a famous detective and no slouch in that area himself, travels with his best friend Miyuki who is recruited to perform in a fashion show in Hong Kong in place of a model who she bears a striking resemblance to that’s gone missing. Unfortunately the missing model is only the first to disappear, and worse things are on the horizon.
I’m a huge fan of the Kindaichi Case Files manga, so was quite interested in checking out this anime adaptation. A nice bonus for me is that this adapts one of the later Kindaichi series, so the mysteries will be new to me.
So far I’ve watched the first case, told over the course of the first four episodes. That seems exactly the right length to properly let the mysteries unfold. The Hong Kong Kowloon Treasure Murder Case provides a decent introduction to Kindaichi and the formula, approach, and atmosphere of his adventures. It seems to have the same general classic mystery feel and structure as the manga, and this opening mystery has good hooks and twists (and the coincidences the plot is based on are too amusing to really hold it against the story).
The pacing is decent, although the exposition heavy setup and solution portions are less cumbersome when reading and drag ever so slightly in animated form. There’s also a little bit of handwaving and stretching of suspension of disbelief with certain developments (which also occurs in the manga at times), but importantly not in the mystery related parts so no real complaints.
Vital context is kept hidden until the end, but the mystery plays fair and key parts are solvable (if requiring some big leaps of logic). This is one of the things I love most about the Kindaichi stories I’ve read, and I’m particularly happy to see this aspect continued here.
Overall I enjoyed this quite a bit and will be continuing to watch when I can. I do recommend reading the original manga series first if you can, if only to appreciate the cameos, have a better sense of the main characters, and because the written stories are a little deeper. But as I mentioned before this initial arc does provide a good introduction to Hajime’s world, and should be extremely accessible even with no prior familiarity.
As I mentioned in Beautiful Dreams, I’ve been a fan of Juri H Chinchilla’s amazing art for several years and have been fortunate enough to develop a nice collection of her work. Here I’d like to share and talk about more of it (as well as ramble a bit about the stories and inspirations behind certain pieces).
“Prayers” Witchcraft sketch card by Juri Chinchilla.
Hallowe’en 2 sketch card by Juri Chinchilla.
“Red Moon” Spellcasters II AP by Juri Chinchilla
Witchcraft AP by Juri Chinchilla.
“Friends” wind and water Elementals AP by Juri Chinchilla.
“Wraith” Hallowe’en 2 sketch card by Juri Chinchilla.
Juri continues to be heavily featured in Perna Studios excellent card sets. I’ve been lucky enough to get several diverse, beautiful sketch cards of hers from sets like Witchcraft, Elementals, etc, in addition to having the opportunity to commission some incredible Artist Proofs (APs) as well.
Juri’s also done promo and base card art for Perna’s sets, and special cards including metal and spot foil chase cards and variants.
Spellcasters II and Witchcraft metal chase cards by Juri Chinchilla.
Spellcasters II foil chase card by Juri Chinchilla.
Some of Juri’s base and promo cards from various Perna Studios sets.
Some particularly interesting pieces of my collection include unique original works, such as Juri’s original pencils underlying her Mistress of the Night piece (the final version of which I featured in Beautiful Dreams) and colored and original art versions of her page from Sarah “Sakky” Ruth Ford’s Magical Girl Coloring Book.
“The Mistress of the Night” original pencils.
Juri’s coloring of her page from Sarah “Sakky” Ruth Ford’s Magical Girl Coloring Book.
Juri’s original art for Sarah “Sakky” Ruth Ford’s Magical Girl Coloring Book.
Juri’s Personal Sketch Cards (PSCs) have been more fantastic additions to my collection, with the great opportunity to request particular subjects and design elements.
As always I adore her use of color, particularly in her hand drawn work, and like with her Perna sketch cards and APs above that aspect also really shines in her PSCs. Seeing her visions of some of my favorite characters come to life has been a real treat. I’m a diehard gamer, with particular preference to RPGs and fighting games over the years. With Juri’s pitch perfect confrontation between Kasumi and Ayane from Dead or Alive and jaw dropping melding of Morrigan and Lilith from Darkstalkers joining the original sketches I got from her featuring Millia Rage, Jam Kuradoberi, and Dizzy from Guilty Gear, I now have incredible renditions of all of my favorite characters to play from each of my favorite fighting game series.
Lenneth Valkyrie PSC by Juri Chinchilla.
Kasumi and Ayane PSC by Juri Chinchilla.
Morrigan and Lilith Aensland PSC by Juri Chinchilla.
Valkyrie Profile is my single favorite RPG of all time, and Juri’s intricately detailed, soft yet strong interpretation of Lenneth Valkyire is exquisite. Favorite series honors go to Persona, and I adore Juri’s vibrant, striking depiction of a key supporting character from one of the series’ best entries.
One of the more unique requests I’ve made is a card featuring one of my favorite professional wrestlers, Mitsuru Konno from Gatoh Move. Mitsuru’s already showing great potential and instincts even with only a little over a year in wrestling, and I adore the incredible way Juri’s captured and combined her strength, determination, grace, and beauty in this remarkable rendition.
The last two pieces I’d like to talk about are anime/manga related. I’m using the word “favorite” a lot, but in explaining the inspirations for choosing these subjects across various mediums it has been appropriate and illustrative in every case. Gorgeous animation, thought provoking stories, and an incredible atmosphere come together to make Kino’s Journey my all time favorite anime. Juri perfectly related Kino’s cool, somewhat detached demeanor resting for a moment atop Hermes against a wonderful background horizon that evokes the show’s sense of traveling through a vast, intriguing world.
Rosario Vampire is an amusing, fan-service and action heavy harem style manga based around a high school for monsters where students regularly get into fierce battles with one another. It has solid story progression once it gets going, but is admittedly largely formulaic and trope ridden. However halfway through the second “season” of the manga there’s a side story, introducing a relatively minor supporting character (who didn’t even make the anime adaptation), which embraces and upends cliches in equal measure to present a nuanced, emotional story that is easily at the top of the (long) list of things I’ve read. San Otonashi is a phenomenal character and (here’s that word again 😉 ) an absolute favorite of mine despite her relative obscurity. Even with being initially unfamiliar with San, Juri was able to create a gorgeous, spot on card of her, conveying both delicacy and strength and again really elevating the final work with her incredible coloring.
San Otonashi PSC by Juri Chinchilla.
Kino PSC by Juri Chinchilla.
Elizabeth PSC by Juri Chinchilla.
More information about Juri’s art can be found on her artist page. I hope to continue to follow and collect her incredible creations for a long time to come. 🙂
Edit 2/9/18: I recent received three more wonderful Personal Sketch Cards by Juri, and wanted to add them to this celebration of her art.
Shoulder-a-Coffin Kuro is an incredible, unique adventure. At its heart are Kuro’s ever curious companions Ninjuku and Sanju, enjoying their journey but also gradually losing their blissful ignorance of the larger world around them. Juri’s wonderfully captured their playfulness and variation of personality.
Brian Q Miller’s Batgirl series was an wonderful comic with the headstrong yet lovable Stephanie Brown in the titular role. One of my favorite issues of the run was a lighthearted story about her friendship with Supergirl. I absolutely love Juri’s rendition of the two of them together.
Finally, Food Wars is a surprisingly fantastic manga/anime with a sports competition manga feel applied to idea of a highly competitive cooking school. Beneath the (admittedly enjoyable) humor,fan service, and general ridiculousness are compelling story arcs featuring an interesting, fun cast. A personal favorite of mine is prodigy Alice Nakiri, who’s simultaneously sheltered/immature and world traveled/formidable in a highly amusing way. Her confidence and attitude are perfectly reflected in Juri’s depiction.
Every twelve years warriors representing the zodiac gather to “compete” until only one remains. To the victor, a granted wish. The Boar, haughty daughter of last tournament’s victor, arrives with destiny in mind and is determined not to be one of the eleven consigned to oblivion.
Like Recovery of an MMO Addict, this is another anime I checked out as part of Crunchyroll’s Passport contest and as such was going in totally cold information-wise.
But while I had no foreknowledge of Juni Taisen Zodiac War, the basic idea was readily apparent. Twelve hardened warriors representing the zodiac have gathered to “compete” until there is only one left. The tone is dark and unsettling, and the entire premise and rules are set up for gruesome deaths and establish tension. Flashbacks to Boar’s background help establish the (disturbing) scope of the show.
The atmosphere and execution is where this sets itself apart, and Zodiac War is interesting and well done overall. I admittedly could have done without what I found to be “meta” spoilers (and I’m very glad I avoided Crunchyroll’s episode description, which is as blatant a spoiler filled summary as I’ve seen), as I readily predicted where things were going. But getting there was still fairly compelling. I wonder if this initial episode will be a template for future episodes. I hope not, because while it worked well enough here as a formula it would drain all suspense from the series. I’m interested in watching more, and cautiously optimistic about the potential this has.
The first episode of Kino’s Journey: The Beautiful World was a decent return to the universe of my favorite anime of all time.
The questions about whether this is a sequel or reboot are answered here, as we get a complete retelling of a story from the first series. Comparisons are thus unavoidable, and to be honest this version doesn’t fare well.
Colosseum is one episode now instead of two in the original, leading to pacing problems and straight up rambling exposition at various times to to set up the plot background. There’s no drama nor proper time to the fights now, and all character development of the other participants and support cast is gone. The absence of certain aspects (tiered society, face to face meeting with the king, etc) modify the philosophy of the story, removing depth and completely changing the implications and meaning of Kino’s actions. I feel all nuance has been lost, and this plays more like a plot outline of the original episodes than a fully formed story.
I’m extremely curious which is closer to the light novel this is based on, as while still justified this Kino is much less relatable/likable compared to the original anime, particularly since this is presented in the second episode with much less opportunity to get to know Kino before these events. It will be interesting to see what new viewers think without the old series to compare to.
I really hope they stick to new material going forward. There’s plenty from the light novels to draw from, so half hearted remakes of stories already adapted don’t seem necessary. Keeping the old series as cannon and providing background exposition as needed would have worked just fine, and certainly wouldn’t have been any more awkward than the info dumps present here. In a vacuum this wasn’t bad, but as a remake it was disappointing.
“Their kindness and favors don’t necessarily benefit a human.”
The Ancient Magus’ Bride starts out with an unsettling and ominous opening with heavy atmosphere as we see a young girl dejectedly signing a contract then being put in a collar, chains, and a robe. She’s purchased by mysterious figure for exorbitant amount, and isn’t even remotely expecting his intentions.
The underlying premise and setup are of course uncomfortable, but things settle into a lighter atmosphere in short order. The heavy themes are of course still there, but the themes move into the territory of acceptance and dealing with coming out of the depths of despair. Chise’s burdened and cursed with powers that are now appreciated and valued, and she has no idea how to react with the possibly fortuitous change in her fate. It’s a delicate subject well handled and this first episode is captivating as her story starts to unfold.
The feel has a touch of “slice of life” as the details of Chise’s new situation are revealed, and the world has a fascinating layer of magic behind it. Being set outside of London and a great animation style combine for a wonderful aesthetic. I’ve been curious about this series and found this first taste of it quite intriguing. Looking forward to watching more.
Thirty year old Moriko is a NEET by choice who wants nothing more than to escape back into the comfort of the online world. In a bit over her head trying a new MMO, her character Hayashi attracts the assistance of the sweet and more experienced Lily, and Moriko’s solo adventure suddenly becomes more of a group effort.
I checked this series out as part of Crunchyroll’s Passport contest, involving watching the first episodes of several new series. So I knew absolutely nothing about it going in.
The opening caught my eye, with vivid, fluid animation and a couple of intriguing glimpses. The strong initial impression continued as the main character walked into her apartment and threw a bouquet of flowers in the trash. Nice, striking way to immediately convey volumes about her. In general I thought there was a really great balance of how much to explicitly reveal and explain vs what to imply here.
This was a cute, good first episode laying the groundwork of Moriko forming relationships within the game world she’s using to try to avoid having to do so in the real world. It appropriately focuses primarily on establishing the internal game world and what she’s experiencing in it in this initial episode, but I expect more of a spotlight on her in the real world as the series progresses. There’s a lot to like and both the comedic and romantic/interpersonal elements are extremely well done so far. Definitely considering continuing with this one.
“Traveling is fun, and even if I have to kill others, I still want to continue doing it.”
I was admittedly a little trepidatious as I watched the premiere episode of Kino’s Journey: The Beautiful World, wondering if it would live up to the heights achieved by its predecessor. The original Kino’s Journey anime is my favorite of all time, so I was both excited and anxious to see this what this new rendition 13 years later would have in store.
The opening two minute quasi-monologue establishing Kino’s philosophy and outlook, including the extremely odd quote I opened with, was a bit worrying. It did set the tone of the series though, somehow having both a touch more melancholy and whimsy at first glance. The scene also made more sense in retrospect once the rest of the episode’s story was told. It was thought provoking and intriguing overall, which is exactly what I want from Kino’s adventures. The joy as always is watching Kino’s visit unfold, so I’ll avoid specifics, but the story here and the country visited were good choices for an initial impression.
The animation doesn’t have the “softness” of the original, but absolutely has the right feel and is beautiful in its own right. Likewise so far I don’t feel the music is quite up to level of original, but again it’s still good.
Overall I’m extremely happy with Kino’s return, and this first episode has a lot of what made the original so special.