Directed by: Shinichiro Watanabe. I always mean to check out more Japanese animation, especially when I remember that Akira was one of my favourite things ever (in both formats). There really is a certain direct, sensual appeal for the lines, the cell animation, the celluloid you see—and unlike Miyazaki, these kinds of older teenager/adult movies are usually pretty gritty, pretty evocative, and just goddamn cool. Let’s face it—it’s the “cool” factor again, and without it, I never would have taken a chance on this kind of thing. You can tell from the cover image quite a bit about it—guns, guys in suits, girls in absurdly sexual outfits—kicking ass in a style somewhere between a western, a gangster noir, and a sci-fi. Not a shabby place to start, and overall the story has enough content to get you through to the end. I felt like there were times when a character or an encounter or even just a certain tone in the film weren’t there because it actually fit the story arc of the film itself, but because it’s a film spawned from a huge franchise, starting with a manga, and a TV series. I suspect that’s the problem with this film—too much stuff to fit into a little movie. But a little movie is all I’m willing to invest in at this point. Fair? Anyway, it was enjoyable, and I guess I’ll get around to the TV series eventually. The music alone is enough to bump this one up above your standard idea of “japanimation”—it was a genuinely unique use of pop and jazz and rock music for the film score. It’s not as visually (or otherwise) mind blowing as Akira, but you can hardly hold that against a movie.