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Animation and Anime

Some Wonderful Anime Available Online This Weekend... and a Few (New York Based) Offline Events

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Column by Scott Green

Looking for something to watch is weekend? Well, here's something worth considering ...

Asian media streaming site Crunchyroll is offering Makoto Shinkai's animated works 5 Centimeters Per Second, Place Promised In Our Early Days and Voices Of A Distant Star to worldwide audiences, except Japan, March 11-13. The anime can be accessed from,, the free iPad and iPhone application, Android, and the Boxee application.

With his artistically beautiful backdrops and stories of separation, Shinkai is one of the animators being called a "next Hayao Miyazaki." I personally find the "next Miyazaki" label to be bothersomely reductive, but, it's some hint of the regard that some have for Shinkai.

Shinkai made his mark with 2002's sci-fi informed relationship story Voices of a Distant Star. The anime followed a decidedly normal relationship between a teen boy and girl, bent by the girl serving in the anime-typical role of piloting a robot against alien adversaries. The two keep in touch through texts, but the time between messages from her grows more protracted as she travels into space at relativistic speeds. It was a nice, effecting story, told over the course of 25 minutes, taken as a real artistic statement due to the story of its production; Voices was originally written, directed and produced by Shinkai on his Power Mac G4, with characters voiced by Shinkai with his wife.

While fans of anime have boasted about the medium's artistic freedom, financial considerations have always been among its constricting factors. Even in the boom years, anime production, especially for Japanese TV, was still subject to the template that Osamu Tezuka laid out in his Fuji TV/Astro Boy deal, in which it's been said that Tezuka underbid in order to inhibit competition. That yielded the production optimization/work arounds/short cuts for which anime became known, and, it yielded a reliance on sponsors.

Shinkai circumvented the restrictions of large production teams, using the then new technical resources that enabled a dedicated artist working by themselves.

Pointing to the work of experimental or independent animators castsShinkai's story in a less exceptional light. However, what caught anime watchers' eyes and imaginations was that Shinkai was creating something that was not too far removed from mainstream anime (Gunbuster, an early work by Evangelion's Studio Gainax comes to mind as a time dilation driven anime classic), alone, stamped with his own vision.

Not finding his work entirely transcendent, I don't share the full extent of Shinkai adoration possessed by some other anime fans. I wish he'd push further away from ground that anime has already covered and from ground that's he's already covered. Still, given that it looks breathtaking and it that tries to and often succeeds in tapping genuine sentiment, I would recommend that everyone see all of his works.

From Crunchyroll's description of the anime.
5 CENTIMETERS PER SECOND begins with the lyrical image of cherry blossoms falling at five centimeters a second, painting a breathtaking vivid tableau of young love, desire, loss, and hope. Told in three heartbreaking chapters, we follow the young dreamer Takaki through his life as cruel winters, cold technology, silence, and, finally, adult obligations and responsibility converge to crush the delicate petals of true love.

VOICES OF A DISTANT STAR follows Mikako who joins the interstellar battle as a pilot leaving behind her love Noboru, only maintaining her connection to him through text messages sent from her mobile phone. And while she barely grows older in the timelessness of space Noboru ages creating this scenario with two lovers, worlds apart, desperately strive to remain connected as the gap between them widens at a frightening pace.

PLACE PROMISED IN OUR EARLY DAYS traces two friends and two passions: the plane they built together, christened Bela Cielo, and a girl: Sayuri. Oblivious to environment around them, the three create an indelible bond and nothing can ever come between them. However as time passes, war escalates, friends become enemies, and alliances change, Sayuri becomes the key to a new world peace...or a frightening and bitter end to life as we know it.

Not on Crunchyroll, but of note to Shinkai fans, a new trailer for his upcoming Children Who Chase Lost Voices from Deep Below

And, Offline...

The New York Int'l Children's Film Festival has added a new screening of Welcome To The Spaceshow Sunday March 13, 10:30am at the IFC Center.

With an intergalactic cast of thousands, Kojo Masunari’s colorfully explosive debut feature sets a new high for visual spectacle and sheer inventiveness of character design – in what has to be one of the most gleefully surreal depictions of alien life forms ever portrayed in cinema.

It seems like just another lazy summer is in store for Amane and her older cousin Natsuki. Lolling about the Japanese countryside, the days are blithe and boundless. But boredom quickly vanishes when they find an injured dog in the woods and bring him back to the cabin – only to discover that he is not a dog at all, but Pochi, an alien botanist sent to Earth to track down a rare and powerful plant called Zughaan (better known to Earthlings as wasabi root). Before long, Pochi has whisked the kids away to a space colony on the dark side of the moon, an interstellar melting pot where we experience a non-stop parade of humorous alien creatures, jellyfish spaceships, dragon trains, and – if that weren’t enough – a theme song from UK pop anomaly Susan Boyle. (Really? Yes, really.) The plot twists come fast and furious, and with such a glorious barrage of color and invention washing across the screen, you just want to hit pause and gawk at the wonder of what you are seeing.

Aniplex's preview of the movie

New York's Japan Society will be presenting Yakuza in Popular Media & Real Life: Yakuza in Popular Media & Real Life: Cracks & Chasms with a lecture by Tokyo Vice author Jake Adelstein and a screening of Onibi: The Fire Within Thursday, March 10, 6:30 PM




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Readers Talkback
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  • March 10, 2011, 2:49 p.m. CST

    Anime is so 1990's

    by TheKiller7

    Aside from Dragon Ball there is nothing there

  • March 10, 2011, 2:51 p.m. CST

    On films, though... Miyazaki is GAWD

    by TheKiller7

    Other than the great miyazaki... there is zzzzzzzzzzzz

  • March 10, 2011, 3:20 p.m. CST

    The Adelstein lecture will be fascinating...

    by RealDoubleJ

    ...shame I live in England lol 'Tokyo Vice' was one of the best factual reads I read last year, a fascinating insight into Japanese culture from an outsider perspective. Plus, more should be made aware of how easy it is for the Yakuza to operate. The mafioso was cordoned off for trying to be so brass & bold & finally starved out of most areas in society, the yakuza get fan magazines dedicated to them & celebrity treatment akin to a TV Reality star. When you stop to think about it, it's quite sickening to glorify.

  • March 10, 2011, 5:09 p.m. CST

    steve rude is doing a raffle

    by john for a piece of his art stuff that goes for thousands can be yours for only 5 bux

  • March 10, 2011, 5:47 p.m. CST

    I'm disheartened by anime

    by maelstrom_ZERO

    It seems that every year, anime seems to be losing a battle to the ever-rising tide of mediocrity and blatant genre exploitation. Specifically, the mass popularity of moe/ecchi subjects. Instead of producing decent character-driven, plot-based vehicles, anime increasingly relies on tired and repetitive genre tropes. Like panty shots. Inane, pointless conversations based on the popularity of Lucky Star. Open lesbianism between extremely underaged girls. Or the constant presence of a moe, clumsy/shy/glasses character meant to elicit the amour of a thousand Japanese/weeaboo geeks. Examples? Lucky Star. K-ON! Baka to Test. Ladies vs. Butlers. Amagami SS. The list is endless. And endlessly depressing. Not to say that there isn't good stuff out there. For every moe/ecchi exploitative anime out there, you have something like Bakemonogatari or Katanagatari--stuff that is either visually unique, or strongly driven by character development. But even the aforementioned examples are still bound by the ubiquitous moe/ecchi tropes, although Bakemonogatari does a good job at poking fun at them to begin with. I don't know. Maybe my view of the industry is skewed, but it seems like anime is slowly heading towards a massive, self-induced big crunch due to the weight of countless shows of pure, unadulterated, moe/ecchi crap. Or perhaps it's just me. I'm sure that Scott Green can provide a better perspective, since he actually knows stuff about the genre.

  • March 10, 2011, 6:05 p.m. CST

    that looks like some super fucking boring anime..wheres the cool shit?

    by HaterofCrap

    bad cgi mecha needs to stop. just... stop. please. theres some really promising shit coming, redline etc...but this shit ain't it.

  • March 10, 2011, 7:11 p.m. CST


    by the Green Gargantua

  • March 10, 2011, 7:12 p.m. CST


    by the Green Gargantua

    Go Nagai telling your cosplaying homo friends to go fuck themselves.

  • March 10, 2011, 7:16 p.m. CST


    by the Green Gargantua The cure for all that is wrong with anime is robo ultra-violence

  • March 10, 2011, 7:18 p.m. CST

    BTW, all that shit you posted Scott? GAY AS FUCK.

    by the Green Gargantua

  • March 10, 2011, 7:21 p.m. CST


    by the Green Gargantua

  • March 10, 2011, 7:22 p.m. CST


    by the Green Gargantua

  • March 10, 2011, 7:25 p.m. CST


    by the Green Gargantua

  • Your new favorite thing that Scott has no clue about: Mazinkaiser skl episode 1

  • March 10, 2011, 8:51 p.m. CST

    That 5 CENTIMETERS PER SECOND trailer is pretty gorgeous.

    by Chewtoy

    Not sure how entertaining the film itself would be, but definitely some great imagery.

  • March 10, 2011, 10:49 p.m. CST

    green gargantua needs to be butt-impaled by George Lopez head!

    by TheKiller7

    Dude got a big ass head, too.

  • March 11, 2011, 12:11 a.m. CST

    It would be more painful to sit through any of the boring shit I see posted here.

    by the Green Gargantua

    Which video game lady boy do you dress as when you are getting tea bagged?

  • March 11, 2011, 2:05 a.m. CST

    Hey Scott Green

    by Naboo_the_Enigma

    Thanks very much for the heads up on these movies. I recently watched The Place Promised in our Early Days on Netflix and really liked it a lot. Really beautiful movie. I'll certainly catch those on Crunchyroll this weekend. <p> Halfbreedqueen.. I liked those movies you've listed too. You might also like the movie Millennium Actress or Tokyo Godfathers, from the same director as Paprika, Satoshi Kon. Sadly, he died last year.

  • March 11, 2011, 3:35 a.m. CST

    Welcome to the Space Show looks completely adorable.

    by jiblets

    I see a lot of 'My Neighbor Totoro' in this one.

  • March 11, 2011, 9:12 a.m. CST

    Tokyo Vice is a great read

    by HeWhoCannotBeNamed

    Wonderful. Pick it up if you're into that whole crime thing. Oh, and haters? Go fuck yourselves. Perhaps you've been exposed to the wrong type of anime. It can be epic. It can also be trash. Much akin to any form of entertainment.

  • March 11, 2011, 11:01 a.m. CST

    I have a love/hate relationship with Shinkai

    by Johnno

    Undoubtedly though all his films looks beautiful! Just being able to sit back and look at the backgrounds is enough for me to purchase his stuff. His first work 'Voice of a Distant Star' has a great story, and hsi early attempt at animation, particularly since it's all the work of ONE GUY!! Is an outstanding effort when you realize it." 'Place Promised in Our Early Days, is a beautiful film with nice characer moments, but ultimately doesn't make any sense... '5cm/sec' is again a beautiful work. It's basically 3 episodes. The first 2 are wonderful, but the last one falls apart for me totally and that kinda ruins the film. Why he chose to end it in the way he did, presentation wise, is just baffling... I am looking forward to his new flm though, but I've gotta sya the guy has a penchant for really long titles and this one takes the cake...

  • March 11, 2011, 12:45 p.m. CST


    by Japan Flix

    is always better.

  • March 12, 2011, 1:43 a.m. CST


    by kufirst

    I love anime and everything it encompasses. So far, I've only seen Shinkai's Voices and Promised Place and I've really like them. I plan on watching 5 centimeters this weekend on CR. I don't think his stuff is as diverse as Kon or Miyazaki but he's definitely the best artist out of all of them, he can picture and draw a beautiful sky like nobody's business. I'm looking forward to his new film as well and hopefully it makes to the States sooner rather than later. I'm also really interested to see Welcome the Space Show. Here's to anime bitches!

  • March 12, 2011, 1:57 a.m. CST


    by kufirst

    Just because there is a lot of shitty anime doesn't mean that's all there is... Durarara!!, Eden of the East and House of Five Leaves are fun to watch and well done. Other great and perhaps under-appreciated anime films are Neo Tokyo, Dead Leaves, Jin-Roh and Memories. As mentioned earlier, there are both highs and lows in anime, just as there is an any medium, I just choose to focus on the highs.

  • March 12, 2011, 7:27 a.m. CST

    by chicgoods

    input this URL: ( ) you can find many cheap and high stuff (jor dan shoes) (NBA NFL NHL MLB jersey) ( lv handbag) (cha nel wallet) (D&G sunglasses) (ed har dy jacket) (UGG boot) WE ACCEPT PAYPAL PAYMENT YOU MUST NOT MISS IT!!! ===== ===== ===== =====

  • March 16, 2011, 6:03 p.m. CST

    thank you Scott

    by quentintarantado

    Wasn't aware of Shinkai before. I seem to like him a lot better than you do. '5 cm''s ending is one of the great WTF moments I've ever experienced.