Archive for April 16th, 2011

As a creative team, screenwriter Kazunori Ito and director Mamouru Oshii are responsible for some of the most eloquent and thought provoking anime of the 80’s and 90’s, but for the most part, fans and critics of the medium have more or less concentrated all their attention onto the 1995 adaptation of Masamune Shirow’s Ghost in the Shell, and left it at that. To be sure, that movie was a powerhouse assembly of sci-fi action, philosophy and cinematic collage, and every bit deserving of the reputation it’s gained over the years as a highly moving and influential piece of Japanese animation. Without it, we probably wouldn’t have seen The Matrix or any number of other similarly themed pieces of high-concept futuristic existentialism come down the Hollywood pipeline. We may not have even seen anime itself continue with quite the same kind of underground popularity that it enjoyed throughout the 90’s– for a handful of years, it would have seemed that along with Kazuhiro Otomo’s groundbreaking Akira, it was the only release that mainstream audiences or commentators ever bothered to know about. It wouldn’t be until Studio Ghibli’s late-blossoming international renaissance with classics like Princess Mononoke or Spirited Away that critics in America “discovered” Hayao Miyazaki. Other directors who could be called high-profile to expert otaku– Hideaki Anno, Rintaro, Shinichiro Watanabe– have either continued to stand tall as recognizable entities to one demographic while remaining utterly unknown to the viewing public at large; or, like Satoshi Kon, have seen their careers and popularity enjoy the same tragically short lifespan as themselves. One could even say that Oshii was rather fortunate for Ghost in the Shell to be one of those premier anime titles for so long, a foot in the door of world audiences that’s secured him plenty of projects since then, and likely to come.


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