Category: Review

Rurouni Kenshin | How Good Art Transcends A Problematic Legacy

First, A Disclaimer

Some time ago I made a video version of a review of Netflix’s Castlevania that I’d previously written for my main blog, Sakura Sunrise. In the beginning, I felt the need to make a disclaimer after it came to light that the writer, comic artist Warren Ellis, had allegations of sexual harassment levied against him.

My thinking was thus: The show may very well be the product of incredible animators, artists, and producers that have crafted the identity of the show, but while I can look past the writer’s transgressions, others might not be able to. Some may feel a moral obligation not to support something if there is a chance that the toxic creator is still making money.

That same dilemma is where I find myself now, about to review a franchise of samurai films that I consider to be nothing short of excellent. However, there is an asterisk. Or maybe just a silent prodding at the back of my head. This film series is an adaptation of Rurouni Kenshin, a manga written by a man named Nobuhiro Watsuki.

In 2017, Nobuhiro Watsuki was charged with possession of child pornography…

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Guilty Crown: Lost Christmas is Everything I Wish I Could Write

Over the past half a year, a good friend of mine and I have read through Guilty Crown: Lost Christmas, a 2012 visual novel from Nitro+. It was written by Jin Haganeya, who previously penned Demonbane & Dra+Koi for the same company. This visual novel is a prequel to the anime of the same name, 2011’s Guilty Crown.

For some background, Guilty Crown was a divisive science fiction series from Production IG that seemed to have everything going for it. Production IG is a prestigious studio that’s responsible for classics like Ghost in the Shell. The anime was directed by Tetsurou Araki who saw great success with Death Note and Highschool of the Dead and would later see meteoric rise thanks to Attack on Titan. Key artwork for the show was done by Redjuice. Best of all, the music was done by Hiroyuki Sawano (Attack on Titan, Kill La Kill, Promare).

Despite all of these blessings, the show got mixed critical reception due to the poor quality of the script and the lacking characters. Having watched the whole show halfway through, I found the characters to be really unlikeable and the story to lack a solid hook to keep me invested. For all of the cosmetic and aesthetic qualities, a script can’t be underestimated in making a show enjoyable.

Funny then that the man who assisted with the screenplay, Haganeya, made a story that feels 10 times as epic, thoughtful, and final as the main series he worked off of to make Lost Christmas. His visual novel explains the circumstances behind some major events in the anime’s lore, expanding on them and creating characters and themes that feel wholly unique.

And it’s something truly special.

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I Like Birds of Prey and I Want You To Think About Why You Don’t

Prologue: DC and the Incorrigible Pickiness of the Comic Book Fandom

Cathy Yan’s Birds of Prey and the Fantabulous Emancipation of Harley Quinn is my favorite DC Film. Specifically, it’s my favorite DC film from their current film continuity, but to say that invites a lot of snarky comments from Marvel stans or general DC haters who will tell you “iS tHAt ReaLlY sAYinG a LoT?”

Frankly, if I opened it up to the wider superhero film genre, I would probably rank this film higher than a lot of them, even counting the MCU. But why would I do that? Why does anyone want me to do that? Seriously? Birds of Prey isn’t a superhero film. Harley Quinn isn’t a superhero. She’s either a villain or an anti-hero vigilante depending on the era.

I think that’s the biggest curse of being a comic book movie. Everyone will just compare you to superhero origin films, team-ups ranging from colorful to dreary, or whatever the fuck Batman vs Superman was supposed to be (I still enjoyed it though tbh). People want to rank the DC films but then a hot take is invalidated because – suddenly – none of them are really that good?

How about this: I consider Birds of Prey to be the best comic-book-based film from DC within the cinematic initiative started in 2013’s Man of Steel. This is not limited to just stuff within a shared universe. This includes stuff like Todd Philip’s Joker and the upcoming Matt Reeves film, The Batman.

Continue reading “I Like Birds of Prey and I Want You To Think About Why You Don’t”