Greetings Ladies and Gentlemen. If you’re reading this then my review copy of the remastered AKIRA (which I will be reviewing, come Hell or high water) has yet to arrive. So, in the meantime, here’s some Ninjas to tide us over.
To anyone with any real interest in samurai the name “Miyamoto Musashi” instantly brings to mind a man who was arguably one of the greatest swordsmen who ever lived. To add to this he’s also credited with not only writing “The book of the five rings” regarded as the seminal text on Samurai tactics and philosophy, but also inventing the dual-sword fighting style, which has today become synonymous with Samurai swordplay.
In fact, mention the name to any Japanese citizen and they’ll know as much about him as any British citizen would about King Arthur… the difference being of course that while King Arthur is the stuff of myth and legend, Miyamoto Musashi was the real deal… But how much of Miyamoto’s near legendary history is just that, a legend? Over the years, how much of his “history” has been romanticised, expanded and expounded to the point where it now carries just as much - or as little – truth to it as that of the story of King Arthur? Over the years scholars have traced Miyamoto’s life long journey, from his youth, on though his multiple excursions on the battlefields of feudal Japan and ultimately to his death, in an attempt to fathom out what it was that really drove this remarkable man. Written by Mamoru Oshii (the director of anime movies Ghost in the Shell 1 & 2 and The Sky Crawlers) and produced by Production I.G. (Ghost in the Shell, Eden of the East), Musashi: The Dream of the Last Samurai - part documentary, part biopic - attempts to clear up some of the questions surrounding Miyamoto Musashi and bring us the truth, and not the myth, of one of the greatest Samurai of all time.
To be honest I wasn’t sure quite what to expect when I first dropped this one into my DVD player as the press releases for it had been a bit… Spartan to say the least. But then, this release (I’m not sure you can actually call it a “movie”) is somewhat of a strange animal to describe. It seems at times to be a serious documentary blending animated and live action elements to tell the tale of Miyamoto Musashi, then a few minutes later it’d switch to being a beautifully crafted historical anime bio-pic with blood, guts and gore a plenty. And then, just as you think you’ve got it pegged, it’ll swap again to being a semi comedic lecture series hosted by a CGI marionette with associated silly noises. And just when you think you’ve seen it all, it’ll turn into a 3D RealTimeStrategy game starring knights and/or Ninjas. But then, as the man behind it is Mamoru Oshii, a screen writer and director well know for sticking two fingers up at the safe & expected way of doing things and going his own way, it shouldn’t come as such a surprise. For anyone with a serious interest in Miyamoto Musashi, well you’ll probably already be aware of everything that this docu-bio-pic covers. But if, like me, you were only aware of the basics surrounding this great Samurai, then this is a great way to learn a bit more about the man within the legend.
Original Japanese trailer, “Making of…” featurette - which is longer than the actual documentary and just as informative.
Musashi: The Dream of The Last Samurai will be available from most high streets and online retailers from 4th July 2011 on both DVD and BluRay. A trailer can be found on Manga UK’s website here.
Ever looked around at the modern world and wondered "but where have all the Ninja gone?"... Well they're still out there, alive and well and doing what they do best; ie protecting their masters whilst doing their dirty work all without being seen by the world at large. Away from the public's eyes a battle is being fought between rival Ninja clans as they struggle for control of an ultimate & secret technique long thought lost. Teenager Miharu Rokujou knows what's going on behind the scenes. He knows there's a war being waged, he knows there's plans being formed and he knows where the secret technique is hidden, it's just that he really doesn't care about it at all. But when it becomes known to the warring clans that their mysterious prize is actually hidden within Miharu himself, his quiet life of abject apathy comes to an abrupt end as enemies begin to make their move and and he's unwillingly pulled into the middle of a power struggle of historic proportions.
Decent series, decent animation, decent dub with a decent storyline... even if it does plod along a bit at times. While this isn't a series that's going to set the world on fire, it does at least stay better than average pretty much the whole way though. It's a basic plot we've seen before - ordinary teenager discovers he has secret powers, other people want powers, yet more people don't want the first group of people to get powers, after a while teenager isn't sure of which group of people is which anymore – but even with a rather generic set up, it still manages to remain engaging pretty much all the way through. So on the whole, yeah, maybe not earth shattering stuff but still fairly… decent.
Nabari No Ou Complete Series 1 Part 1 has a single episode audio commentary and Textless opening and closing credits while Nabari No Ou Complete Series 1 Part 2 has… well the same actually.
Nabari No Ou Complete Series 1 Part 1 is available now with Nabari No Ou Complete Series 1 Part 2 available from most high streets and online retailers from 5th September 2011. A trailer can be found on Manga UK’s website here.