The second chapter of KnK may seem like one of the weaker sections since it’s so heavy on exposition and concepts that don’t gain much from the transition from print to screen; even in novel form it doesn’t have many exciting moments. The novel has a ‘greater than the sum of its parts’ thing going on though, and the character study of this chapter is one of the main reasons why it feels that way. If you’re patient and take the time with this part, it’s easier to appreciate the rest.
By which I mean: it’s important in understanding how the two protagonists’ minds work and what drives them to make the decisions they make later on. I guess the narrative also needs time to pause and offer something character-driven before leaping headlong into the next action-orientated arc. After reading this chapter through, the first one feels like a ‘cold open’ to get the reader’s/viewer’s attention while the heart of the story lies elsewhere.
The process of adapting a novel for the screen fascinates me, if not as much as the writing process itself. On those rare and wonderful occasions where there’s no “…the book was better…” sensation, the people responsible for the adaptation are competent but also recognise what it is about the original that made it special.
Could I find a pic of Kirie on her own? Could I heck. This is much better though (click to see in its fully embiggened glory)
Reading the the opening chapter of Kara no Kyoukai after watching the movie, I can’t ignore the fact that it’s a very ‘early’ attempt on Nasu’s part to focus his creative energy and bring his inspiration together into a tangible, and readable, form. It has a rough-around-the-edges, first-draft feel to it, which is bad for casual readers but interesting to fans and those of us who like to dig beneath the surface to find out what makes the story, and the mind that wrote it, tick.
One filmmaker who’s caught my interest in the past year or two is Sion Sono, a darling of film festivals and possibly the most infamous Japanese director since Takashi Miike. While Miike’s output is certainly inventive and controversial, I’ve grown to admire Sono more due to his classier approach and I’m now determined to work my way through his entire filmography.
I absolutely adored Love Exposure. It’s long, startling, grimly funny and is in my top five favourite films. Guilty of Romance is similarly dazzling from a visual standpoint, and is equally off-limits for the prudes and the squeamish. While Guilty of Romance is a work of art and I’m glad I’ve seen it, ironically its strengths make it a film I’m not in a hurry to see again any time soon.
I can’t even remember how Love Exposure made it onto my Lovefilm rental queue, then the discs sat on my desk for the best part of a fortnight. Before you read past the jump I should warn you that it’s a very long film (the commercial release is four hours; the director’s cut, which I haven’t seen, clocks in at six) and it’s not one for the easily offended.
The plot synopsis is hard to summarise but at its core Love Exposure is a coming-of-age romantic comedy. Its intertwining plot threads feature graphic gore and manga-style violence, domestic strife, panty shots, teen angst, sexual and religious taboos and numerous awkward boners. To reiterate: not for the easily offended. It’s still bloody genius though.
It’s embarrassing to admit that I consider myself a fan of Japanese cinema yet have never seen, for example, Akira Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai. It reminds me of the concept behind I’ve Never Seen Star Wars in that there are some glaring gaps in my knowledge and life experience that need to be filled. Another good example is that I had never sat down to watch the original 1954 movie of Godzilla. Until now.
It goes without saying that Godzilla is a cultural icon; the image of a giant lizard owning the streets of Tokyo is one of cinema’s most enduring images but out of the people who recognise the popular silhouette of this radioactive dinosaur, how many have seen its first silver screen outing? With the aid of my Lovefilm subscription I decided to conduct a little experiment in experiencing a piece of filmmaking that’s around the same age as my parents…and the results were surprising.
It was a funny coincidence when I spotted the Loups-Garous anime on fansub so soon after I’d bought a copy of the original novel. I was interested to see how the transition would go since the book’s an atmospheric and moody piece; the adaptation of Kyogoku’s Mouryou no Hako went through a couple of episodes where the wheels fell off for a while but it was still really disappointing to see Loups-Garous stumble so badly. I wish the staff who had worked on MnH had been given the chance to work on this one too, because that worked far better on screen than this did.
The novel laid the philosophy on quite thick but fortunately there’s enough going on in there to make for a decent movie from the SF and conspiracy-thriller aspects without exploring anything else too deeply. I actually think the film would’ve been bogged down with Kyogoku’s long-winded intellectual musings but even with a more digestible narrative it still falls flat and, oddly, seems to be aimed at a somewhat different audience from the source material.
It’s fair to say that the anime industry’s track record for feature film adaptations of TV shows isn’t a good one. For the first Macross Frontier movie I was torn between the idea that another Macross cinematic outing helmed by Kawamori himself could only be a good thing and the opposing notion that similar efforts from other franchises have left me disappointed. This one could well polarise opinion among the Macross fandom but for me at least it’s not the waste of time the nay-sayers claim it to be.
The inescapable factor is the Serial Narrative Compression Effect or, to put it simply, the fact that an episodic TV series has to be squeezed into two hours or less of screen time. Certain details have to to be left on the cutting room floor, others are shuffled around and the thematic emphasis shifts too. Itsuwari no Utahime (a.k.a. The False Songstress) does suffer from these limitations but the streamlined plotline and the production values stemming from the feature film budget are where it really shines.
I honestly don’t know what’s come over me in the past few weeks. I haven’t had time or inspiration to post anything (I still upload a pic or short missive on Tumblr fairly regularly…‘regularly’ being a relative term) but what I’m most annoyed at myself for is not having the motivation to reply to comments. Rest assured that I’ve read each and every one of them and I appreciate the fact that at least my readers have the time and effort to write something, even when I haven’t.
Last weekend was a lot of fun though, and kicked me out of my little funk for a while. Ironically I watched more anime during the course of Sunday afternoon that I had during the past month…with the exception of finishing my childhood fave The Mysterious Cities of Gold. LIFF always has a lot of interesting things on offer but the anime line-up this year was impressive: I didn’t get time to see Gintama and One Piece isn’t my thing but I was able to make it to Mardock Scramble: The First Compression, Rebuild of Evangelion 2.0 and Redline.
Maybe I’m stating the glaringly obvious here, but since it wasn’t obvious to me until recently I might as well set out my thoughts on it. I’m not saying that the Unlimited Blade Works is a great movie but it’s worth stopping to think about the broader context or what the movie itself is trying to accomplish. Similarly, there are a few things I could say about the Yukikaze OAV but now I’ve read the original novel I feel a bit different about it. Feelings concerning the motives behind, and effects of, adapting stories from one medium to another mostly.
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An extreme example of the importance of context that I stumbled on is William Gibson’s Neuromancer. It’s an enjoyable enough cyberpunk novel but not as enjoyable for me as I expected: I’m finding it tedious in places but when I remind myself that it was written before any of that stuff related to the internet, VR and even the cyberpunk genre itself were commonplace, I admire it more. Not that it makes the book itself more fun, but it makes its limitations at least understandable.
I’ve learned to approach feature-length movie retellings of familiar stories with a lot of caution. To put it bluntly, at best they’re unsatisfying summaries and at worst they ruin what I liked about the original in the first place. In the case of Eve no Jikan, one of my favourite pieces of animated SF in recent years, I prayed it would be an exception. Fortunately it does Yasuhiro Yoshiura’s screenplay justice from start to finish, and even though the majority of the film is pretty much the same as that of the six-part ONA there’s enough extra material to keep the old fans happy but it retains that unique winning formula.
The best part of all is the fact that this is in full HD: the series was from the outset a cut above the made-for-TV fare in terms of details in the artwork and fluidity in the animation, so the big screen treatment is what it deserves. If much of the content itself is the same then seeing it all in such glorious resolution is in itself worth the experience…and of course the increased detail means you’re less likely to miss some subtle yet potentially important plot point.