Charles Solomon – Animation Scoop

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ANIME REVIEW: “The Morose Mononokean”

We don’t really have a word in English that corresponds to the Japanese yokai. They aren’t ghosts as we think of them; nor do they correspond to Western demons or ogres. Their appearance is often monstrous, but they’re not all huge or ugly. Yokai can be grotesque, hideous, funny-looking or even attractive. There doesn’t seem […]

Less Is More: The Simple Beauty of “Dam Keeper Poems”, “The Big Bad Fox”, and “The Yamadas”

We live in an era of visual overload. Animation studios are producing images so detailed, they’re virtually indistinguishable from live action, but why do they want to? How does rendering every leaf in the background make a story more compelling? What does an audience gain by seeing each stitch in a cartoon character’s sweater? Why […]

ANIME REVIEW: Takahata’s “My Neighbors the Yamadas”

Although it’s technically a feature, Isao Takahata’s droll My Neighbors The Yamadas (1999), which is receiving its first release on Blu-ray, plays like a collection of comic sketches. It’s based on Hisaichi Ishii’s “Nono-chan,” a popular manga that may remind Americans of “Hi and Lois” or “Baby Blues.” Blandly middle income and middle class, Takashi […]

BOOK REVIEW: 20 Years of “Zits”

Twenty years ago–July 7,1997–a lanky blond teenager slouched down to breakfast; his father and mother bid him good morning (“Did you sleep well, Sweetie?”). His reaction: “As usual, my parents were on my case.” Comics readers discovered “Zits,” written by Jerry Scott and drawn by Jim Borgman, a genuinely funny new strip that combined the […]

Charles Solomon’s Animation Year End Review 2017

Although he wrote them in 1859, Charles Dickens might have been thinking of animation in 2017 when he penned the celebrated lines, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the […]

ANIME REVIEW: “Ranma ½: OVA & Movies Collection”

Rumiko Takahashi’s gender-bending martial arts comedy Ranma ½ debuted as a manga in “Shonen Sunday Comics” in 1988 and in animation soon after. Three decades later, it remains hugely popular in both Japan and the United States. Although Takahashi has said she wasn’t commenting on gender roles in Japan, its absurd premise suggests otherwise. Wiry, […]

ANIME REVIEW: “ReLIFE: Season One”

At 27, Arata Kaizaki (voice by Micah Solusod), the central character of the school comedy ReLIFE (2016), is a NEET: An acronym that stands for Not in Education, Employment or Training. The term is generally applied to young men who are seen as not contributing to the Japanese economy—or much of anything else. Although he […]

ANIME REVIEW: “Orange: The Complete Series”

Based on the shojo (girl’s) manga by Ichigo Takano, the broadcast series Orange (2016) mixes questions about the possibility of time travel changing the past with high school heartache and angst. Naho Takamiya (Jill Harris) is a somewhat timid but otherwise normal 16-year-old student at Azalea Hill Public High School in the mountainous region of […]

ANIME REVIEW: “Naruto Shippuden the Movie: Rasengan Collection”

With more than 220 million books of the manga in print—about half the total of the “Harry Potter” series, sales of tens of millions of DVD and Blu-ray discs, as well as countless consumer products, Naruto has become a global phenomenon. In Japanese folklore, some evil spirits grow multiple tails as they age and their […]

ANIME REVIEW: “Studio Ghibli Collection” on blu-ray

Hayao Miyazaki’s brilliant animated features have already been released on disc several times, but this new series from GKids includes additional extras about the making of the films. Each two-disc set comes with a small booklet of statements by Miyazaki, producer Toshio Suzuki, and/or producer/director Isao Takahata. The sets of Ponyo, Howl’s Moving Castle and […]

Anime Review: “Hyouka: Part 1”

Hotaro Oreki (voice by Adam Gibbs) might hold the record for teen-age angst. He talks about living a life that “conserves energy” by following the motto, “If I don’t have to do something, I won’t; but if I have to, I’ll do it quickly.” His cheerful best friend Takeo Katsuta (Aaron Dismuke) comments that Oreki […]

ANIME REVIEW: “And You Thought There Is Never a Girl Online?”

Hideki Nishimura (Dallas Reid), the hero of the adventure-comedy And You Thought There Is Never a Girl Online? (2016), is a typically nerdy student at Maegasaki High. He’s not a math wizard or an unshowered programming genius. He’s just an insecure, slightly out of it guy with few real friends. Nishimura finds the companionship he […]

Manga Review: “My Brother’s Husband”

Although millions of Americans, especially Americans udner 30, buy and read manga, they’re only seeing the tip of the proverbial iceberg. Manga culture remains far more complex and diverse than readers in the US realize, as Gengoroh Tagame’s singular My Brother’s Husband demonstrates. Tagame is a celebrated manga-ka, or manga artist, best known for his […]

Book Review: Hirohiko Araki’s “Manga in Theory and Practice”

Manga have become so popular in Japan and throughout the world, that an increasing number of young people aspire to become mangaka, or manga artists. As its title suggests, Hirohiko Araki’s Manga in Theory and Practice is a how-to guide, designed to help young artists find their way. Araki says, “I want this book to […]

ANIME REVIEW: “Outlaw Star”

The rollicking comedy-adventure Outlaw Star began as manga by Takehiko Ito and the artists at Morningstar Studios, who also made the animated series. In the distant future, interstellar space is divided between Pirates and the Space Forces. The self-proclaimed Outlaws scratch out a living in the odd spaces unoccupied by the two powers. Like a […]