Blame! A Dystopian Nightmare

Like anime but had it up to here with “Ghost in the Shell” hype? I’ve got a good new anime for you. “Blame!” a Netfix original, may be the best anime since Miyazaki’s “The Wind Rises.” Based on a very popular manga, it deals with a “distant technological future in which civilization has reached its ultimate net-based form (sounds like today!).An infection has caused the automated system to spiral out of order, which results in a multi-leveled city structure that replicates itself in all directions. With humanity having lost access to the city controls and being hunted down and purged by the defense system known as the Safeguard, a little enclave in a corner of the city known as the Electro-Fishers is facing eventual extinction. A girl named Zuru goes on a journey to find food for her village, only to inadvertently cause doom when an observation tower senses her and summons a Safeguard pack to eliminate the threat. With her companions dead and all escape routes blocked, the only thing that can save her now is the sudden arrival of Killy the Wanderer, on his quest for the Net Terminal Genes, the key to restoring order to the world.” (Thanks, Wikipedia!)

This cartoon combines the excitement of “The Matrix” with the craftsmanship of “Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within.” Although the plot is similar to quite a bit of science fiction including William Gibson, “The Matrix.” and “The 13th Floor,” the skill of the animation creates a real sense of urgency. While it doesn’t have the charm that many anime films do, it is made with enough skill to be really affecting. The animation is really good, apparently CGI but looking hand-drawn. I found myself unable to look away during the entire film. If you’re looking for proof that anime is still great, check out “Blame!”; the filmmakers are certainly blameless.


Ghost in the Shell is Deep

I thought I knew what to expect from “Ghost in the Shell.” I assumed it would have great visuals and a mindless plot. I was right about the visuals. Although the futuristic city portrayed in the film looks a little too close to “Blade Runner,” overall the film is convincing and occasionally mind-blowing in terms of its visual impact. The surprise about the new film is that director Rupert Sanders has a story to tell, and tells it well. What would it be like to be an android (or, actually, a cyborg) with no body to call your own and memories you can’t trust? This film tells you.

I was very impressed with the cast that this film put together. It is true that Scarlett Johannson is rather miscast as the heroine, but this is only because her character is supposed to be Asian. She should have asked for rewrites to tailor the part more to her. However, “Beat” Takeshi Kitano (the Japanese action star), Juliette Binoche, and Michael Pitt are excellent in their roles.

The film is getting a lot of flack for supposedly “whitewashing” Japanese material. On the contrary, the film is very respectful to the magna and anime series, and to such a degree that I’m rather stunned. The scenes where the protagonist discovers the truth about herself are rather affecting. This film succeeds in capturing the essence of the film series, and I would not mind a sequel to this film. If you like science fiction and especially if you like anime, check it out! – CoolAC