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Idiot Savant Japan: Death Gods and Box Office Funerals

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Idiot Savant Japan: Death Gods and Box Office Funerals

In America, anime is an at-home staple. It’s something you watch from the comfort of your easy chair or—like me—hunched over in the dark with your laptop, bathing in its sickly comforting glow. Aside from the usual TV series and OAVs, there is a very rare third choice for viewing: actually going to a movie theater.

It may seem redundant to talk about an anime series’s theatrical release, but how else can we describe them? The TV-to-Film transition seems perfect for any animated series; it’s the old Disney model in reverse. Pokémon’s first “feature,” released stateside in 1999 as Pokémon: The First Movie, served as a backstory to one of the first game’s most powerful monsters. It also had something to do with that yellow rat thing, which can still generate cash for Nintendo.

It’s opening weekend brought in $31 million and caused numerous theaters (totaling 3,000 screens) to be filled with little kids shouting “Pika Pika!” In both Japan and America, the Poké-craze was enough to merit a long-form theatrical release rather than straight-to-video. Of course, that was 1999.

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These days, the TV Film in America has a greater chance to hit DVD nearly two or three years after a release in Japan. Normally, they would be released on VHS or DVD, since many distributors—ok, ok. Viz.—never saw the point of a full scale commercial release. After the first film, Pokémon was relegated to the DVD racks in the U.S., but still allotted wide release in Japan. Releasing properties in this format is steadily increasing, from Warner Bros.’sWatchmen tie-in to rumors of cult shows like Firefly and Futurama. And for good reason, right?

Well, maybe not. Anime—heck, any cinephile would argue the merits of seeing a projection on a massive screen with good speakers. The distributors mainly argue that there is no reason to release what has primarily been a “video market” into theaters; there is a difference between a new Miyazaki opening and the fourth Naruto film, after all.

But as the genre continues it’s never-ending, Borg-like assimilation into pop culture, we should justify releasing work intended to be theatrical in theaters. While recording Grassroots Episode 12a last week, Grady Hendrix talked about being at this year’s New York Comic Con and of the fan experience in general. Mainly how fans would give their own arm to see something like the live-action Death Note in a theater, but can’t due to being in the Midwest or not in the two major market cities.

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Viz has tried to remedy this with special “one night only” screenings: the first Death Note back in May and showing, on June 11th, Bleach: Memories of Nobody with the series’s character designer and producer in attendance for a pre-screening talk. But again—the Bleach event is for one night only, save for a second screening on the 12th.

Then again, it’s going to be a theater filled with screaming kids in cosplay glomping the fuck out of each other. Maybe it is better just to skip all the excitement and fun, to sit at home and weep hot tears of shame at my illegal downloading of anime.

~

Every so often I stop drinking blue drinks and chasing women in order to concentrate on other things like drinking women and chasing blue drinks. I also roll over to Neojaponisme for some rather nifty pieces on Haruki Murakami, United Red Army—which is showing at NYAFF with a post-screening interview with director Koji Wakamatsu via satellite—and the issues of translation.

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~

Also, we’ve just found out that the Grassroots podcast is garnering over 9000 listens. To mark the occasion:

John Lichman is a freelance writer who contributes to The Reeler, Primetime A&E [print only] and anyone with cash. He works odd jobs to afford his vices, sleeps on couches and can drink Vadim Rizov under a table.

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Watch: Two Episode Trailers for Jordan Peele’s The Twilight Zone Reboot

Ahead of next week’s premiere of the series, CBS All Access has released trailers for the first two episodes.

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The Twilight Zone
Photo: CBS All Access

Jordan Peele is sitting on top of the world—or, at least, at the top of the box office, with his sophomore film, Us, having delivered (and then some) on the promise of his Get Out. Next up for the filmmaker is the much-anticipated reboot of Rod Serling’s The Twilight Zone, which the filmmaker executive produced and hosts. Ahead of next week’s premiere of the series, CBS All Access has released trailers for the first two episodes, “The Comedian” and “Nightmare at 30,000 Feet.” In the former, Kumail Nanjiani stars as the eponymous comedian, who agonizingly wrestles with how far he will go for a laugh. And in the other, a spin on the classic “Nightmare at 20,0000 Feet” episode of the original series starring William Shatner, Adam Scott plays a man locked in a battle with his paranoid psyche. Watch both trailers below:

The Twilight Zone premieres on April 1.

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Scott Walker Dead at 76

Walker’s solo work moved away from the pop leanings of the Walker Brothers and increasingly toward the avant-garde.

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Scott Walker
Photo: 4AD

American-born British singer-songwriter, composer, and record producer Scott Walker, who began his career as a 1950s-style chanteur in an old-fashioned vocal trio, has died at 76. In a statement from his label 4AD, the musician, born Noel Scott Engel, is celebrated for having “enriched the lives of thousands, first as one third of the Walker Brothers, and later as a solo artist, producer and composer of uncompromising originality.”

Walker was born in Hamilton, Ohio on January 9, 1943 and earned his reputation very early on for his distinctive baritone. He changed his name after joining the Walker Brothers in the early 1960s, during which time the pop group enjoyed much success with such number one chart hits as “Make It Easy on Yourself” and “The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine (Anymore).”

The reclusive Walker’s solo work moved away from the pop leanings of the Walker Brothers and increasingly toward the avant-garde. Walker, who was making music until his death, received much critical acclaim with 2006’s Drift and 2012’s Bish Bosch, as well as with 2014’s Soused, his collaboration with Sunn O))). He also produced the soundtrack to Leos Carax’s 1999 romantic drama Pola X and composed the scores for Brady Corbet’s first two films as a director, 2016’s The Childhood of a Leader and last year’s Vox Lux.

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Watch: The Long-Awaited Deadwood Movie Gets Teaser Trailer and Premiere Date

Welcome to fucking Deadwood!

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Deadwood
Photo: HBO

At long last, we’re finally going to see more of Deadwood. Very soon after the HBO series’s cancellation in 2006, creator David Milch announced that he agreed to produce a pair of two-hour films to tie up the loose ends left after the third season. It’s been a long road since, and after many false starts over the years, production on one standalone film started in fall 2018. And today we have a glorious teaser for the film, which releases on HBO on May 31. Below is the official description of the film:

The Deadwood film follows the indelible characters of the series, who are reunited after ten years to celebrate South Dakota’s statehood. Former rivalries are reignited, alliances are tested and old wounds are reopened, as all are left to navigate the inevitable changes that modernity and time have wrought.

And below is the teaser trailer:

Deadwood: The Movie airs on HBO on May 31.

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