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Archive for March 19th, 2011

By Bob Clark

There’s a special pleasure in finding an early work by a director so strongly identified by another, later effort, even when such labors are almost universally recognized as masterpieces and definitive entries for their genres and mediums, the kinds that influence countless imitators and homages for decades to come. As a fan of Star Wars, there’s no bigger surprise than to discover the avant-garde brilliance of THX 1138, and observe George Lucas tackling science-fiction in a far more adult and abstract manner than his legendary space-opera ever could. As a devotee of Fritz Lang, it’s always a shock to find fans who never bother to look any further than the likes of Metropolis or M, and thereby deny themselves the arguably greater experiences of multi-part silent epics like Die Nibelungen or the notorious Dr. Mabuse series. In the realm of anime, one can look to any number of creators whose watershed efforts obscure their earlier triumphs– Oshii’s Patlabor movies and OVA’s have mostly been forgotten in favor of his Ghost in the Shell features; Miyazaki’s numerous animated television series have gone overlooked by all but the most dedicated of his fans following the formation of his Studio Ghibli legacy; Otomo’s efforts as a mangaka have been more or less forgotten, if for no other reason than how frequently gems like Domu and the six-volume Akira go out of print. Perhaps most deserving of a rediscovery by the cinephile community at large is the oeuvre of Hideaki Anno– though his 1995 series Neon Genesis Evangelion and its subsequent feature-film variations have dominated the work of anime creators and fans alike for the past fifteen years, perhaps coming the closest any medium has seen to the equivalent of a Star Wars level event of pop-cultural significance, his work has more or less gone ignored by the majority of film critics and mainstream audiences, never quite enjoying the same kind of appreciation that other anime creators have been given.

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