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Fantasia 2018, Day 12, Part 2: I Am a Hero, Bleach, and Inuyashiki

I had three consecutive movies I wanted to watch on July 23. All three came from director Shinsuke Sato, all three were live-action manga adaptations, and all three were followed by question-and-answer sessions with Sato (the first at the De Sève Theatre, the second two at the larger Hall). I’ll write up what he had to say about his films in a separate post tomorrow. Today, my impressions of the movies themselves: the zombie apocalypse thriller I Am a Hero,…

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Fantasia 2021, Part LXV: Not Quite Dead Yet

The strangest title of any film at Fantasia 2021 was the Korean short “Digital Video Editing with Adobe Premiere Pro: The Real-World Guide to Set Up and Workflow.” (“그녀를 지우는 시간”) A 40-minute piece written and directed by Hong Seong-yoon, it opens with a scene from a romance movie as a young woman meets a handsome businessman — and then there’s a ghost. And the image freezes. And in a voice-over we hear the director, Seo, explain that his movie’s…

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First Impressions: Tim Kirk’s 1975 Tolkien Calendar

Gandalf and Bilbo How does the old saying go? “You never get a second chance to make a first impression.” It’s often true that the first encounter has an ineradicable effect, whether the meeting is with a person, a work of art, or a world. It’s certainly true in my case; I had my first and, in some ways, most decisive encounter with Middle-earth before I ever read a word of The Lord of the Rings. My first view of…

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Fantasia 2020, Part XII: Tezuka’s Barbara

The chain of inspiration behind a work of art can be stunning to behold. Ernst Theodor Amadeus Hoffman was a musician, critic, and fiction writer in the early nineteenth century whose surreal and gemlike short stories are wonders of early fantasy. Some of those stories were worked into the libretto of Jacques Offenbach’s 1881 opera Les contes d’Hoffmann. Adapted to films at least three times, most notably by Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger in 1951, Offenbach’s work would inspire the…

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Fantasia 2019, Day 17, Part 3: Kingdom

My third movie of July 27 was a live-action manga adaptation by the dauntless and prolific Shinsuke Sato. Having been thrilled by his previous work in past years (I Am A Hero, Bleach, Inuyashiki, Death Note: Light Up the New World, and Library Wars), I was eager to see something new from him. This year’s offering was Kingdom (Kingudamu, キングダム), which Sato scripted along with Tsutomu Kuroiwa, adapting the manga of the same name by Yasuhisa Hara. As of August,…

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Fantasia 2019, Day 12, Part 1: Fly Me to the Saitama

On Monday, July 22, I was back at the Hall Theatre for one of the movies I was most anticipating. It was a new live-action manga adaptation from Hideki Takeuchi, director of the Thermae Romae films: Fly Me to the Saitama (Tonde Saitama, 翔んで埼玉). The script by Yuichi Tokunaga adapts the comics from the early 80s by Mineo Maya, although apparently the filmmakers had to finish the last two-thirds of the story for themselves. The film tells a story inside…

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A Tale of Two Covers: If This Goes On edited by Charles Nuetzel and Cat Rambo

Art by Albert Nuetzell and Bernard Lee If This Goes On seems like the perfect title for a science fiction anthology; I’m surprised it hasn’t been used more often. It was first used by Robert A. Heinlein for his 1940 famous novella, which became a key part of his massive science fiction Future History. The story won a Retro Hugo in 2016, but was renamed Revolt in 2100 for its publication as a novel in 1953. Charles Nuetzel co-opted the title 25…

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Autumn Short Story Roundup

It’s been more than a piece, heck, even more than a while, since I’ve done one of these. I’m glad to be back because there’s been some really good short fiction published in the last couple of months. I’m not going to get to everything, but I am going to get to the best — Heroic Fantasy Quarterly 37 and Tales From the Magician’s Skull No. 2. HFQ 37 has four stories and three poems. The continued use of evocative black…

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Fantasia 2018, Day 17, Part 1: Laughing Under the Clouds and the 2018 Afromentum Showcase

Saturday, July 28, saw me arrive at the Hall Theatre early for a showing of the Japanese historical fantasy Laughing Under the Clouds, yet another manga adaptation. Following that, I’d head across the street to the J.A. De Sève Theatre, where I’d watch a short film showcase called Afromentum. It’d feature four short films by Black filmmakers from around the world — including an adaptation of Nnedi Okorafor’s short story “Hello, Moto.” Laughing Under the Clouds (Donten ni warau, 曇天に笑う)…

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Fantasia 2018, Day 16: The Witch in the Window and Ajin: Demi-Human

I had two movies to see on Friday, July 29. The first, perfectly fitting the small De Sève Theatre, was The Witch in the Window, a quiet character-centred horror film. The second was another live-action manga adaptation, Ajin: Demi-Human, a fast-paced explosion-oriented semi-super-hero story which fit the larger Hall Theatre as well as The Witch in the Window suited the De Sève. I had certain hopes for both, and in both cases those hopes were wildly exceeded. These are two…

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