When I reviewed the premiere for LUPIN THE 3rd PART 5, I said I was disappointed to see that the franchise looked like it was sinking back into the slurry of mediocrity that characterized the late ‘90s and 2000s, interested only in updating the aesthetic sheen without tackling any of the franchise’s extremely outdated ideas (the movies, meanwhile, took all of the grimdark edge and none of the feminist themes from The Woman Called Fujiko Mine). Episode 2 seems to confirm those fears, making a joke out of marginalized fans rather than trying to sincerely include them.
In the city of Sternbild, heroes are a part of everyday life. In fact, the superpowered beings called NEXT are reality TV superstars, wearing sponsor logos and competing for points as they carry out their work. Kotetsu T. Kaburagi, AKA Wild Tiger, is one such hero. Now considered “past his prime,” his career takes a turn when he’s paired with the haughty rookie Barnaby Brooks Jr.—a young man dead set on finding his parents’ killer.
I recently rediscovered the joys of interlibrary loan, giving me access to a new quantity of manga I wasn’t able to afford otherwise. So, once in a while I’ll be putting out these multi-title posts with short-form reviews of what I’ve been reading.
Kino’s Journey (2003) is one of the great classics of anime: directed by the late Ryutaro Nakamura (Serial Experiments Lain) with his characteristic eye for negative space and eerie, melancholy sound design, the series is a quiet but purposeful sequence of short stories ranging from the fantastical to the mundane. All of them are about human nature, and as Kino meets various people, we learn a little more about why Kino is on that titular journey.
Horror anime is rare and rarely affecting. Series often have difficulty conveying or maintaining unsettling atmospheres and slow burns, and turn instead to gore and body horror—subgenres that can be quite effective but can easily take a turn for the silly.
It’s why series that can act with at least a certain amount of restraint have stuck in the anime fandom’s collective memory: the tragic Nina from Fullmetal Alchemist, Higurashi’s carefully spaced explosions of violence, and Tetsuo’s slow loss of bodily autonomy in AKIRA. Older anime fans in particular might add one more name to that set: Vampire Princess Miyu, a rare horror series both targeted toward and starring women.