anime film directors

(Welcome to Let’s Get Animated!, a column that spotlights the best of film animation. In this edition: the best modern anime film directors to keep an eye on.)

Ask any animation buff and they can list off a handful of great Western animation directors, and one Japanese one. Despite anime’s place on the global stage — dominating the pop culture stratosphere since the ‘90s and going on to win prestige thanks to the efforts of Studio Ghibli — most people still think of Hayao Miyazaki as the lone renowned anime filmmaker. But simply taking a shallow dive into the anime industry proves that is not the case.

That’s right, I’m back to talking about anime. While last time I gave you a beginner’s guide to the best gateway anime, this month I’ll be covering some of the most promising and accomplished anime film directors working today. Most of these filmmakers have had to ward off breathless press questions about whether they consider themselves “the Next Miyazaki” or had their films endlessly compared to Studio Ghibli’s catalogue. But these filmmakers have more than proved that they can stand on their own.

Let it be known that this list will exclusively cover directors still working today, and who work mostly in film. (So, no Isao Takahata, or Satoshi Kon, who is a master due for his own column sometime in the future.)

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Ghost in the Shell Featurette

If the recent video from the set of Ghost in the Shell featuring one of the numbskulls from Entertainment Tonight asking Scarlett Johansson stupid questions didn’t give you the behind the scenes glimpse of the movie you were hoping for, we have something better today.

A new Ghost in the Shell featurette has been released that features the director of the original anime, Mamoru Oshii, paying a visit to the set in New Zealand. And since this is official publicity material, he obviously has some nice things to say about the movie’s vision for adapting his work.

Watch the Ghost in the Shell featurette after the jump. Read More »


I think that we should first of all indulge in a little primer on Tesujin 28-go aka Gigantor, my favourite giant robot of all – because, yes, I do like some giant robots, honest.

Created in the mid-50s as a Manga series, Tetsujin 28-go tells the story of a three-storey tall robot invented to help fight on behalf of Japan in World War 2. By the time the robot is perfected – which is after 27 failed builds, if you couldn’t guess – the war is actually over and so there’s nothing else to do but… er… give the remote controlled weapon-bot to a ten year old boy. Don’t ask me, I’m only passing this along – it was Mitsuteru Yokoyama that actually baked it all up in the first place.

Luckily, this young lad doesn’t use the robot the way I think many kids would (you’d have to see the Twilight Zone episode It’s a Good Life for a portrayal of young ‘uns with extreme power that I might buy into more easily) and instead puts it to use fighting crime and, of course, other giant robots. Evil ones, mind. What a good lad! The kid gets away with it because the chief of police is both very nice and obviously a bit of a soft touch when it comes to the kids.

There’s already a CG-animated version of the story in development at Imagi studios, though the relative failure of their Astroboy movie may slow that process down or even stop it altogether. They released an early-early teaser on their official website and, to my eye, it looked rather unattractive.

For a different attack on the material, we can look to Mamrou Oshii, the director of The Ghost in the Shell, Avalon and The Sky Crawlers. During a presentation to launch his latest picture, Assault Girls, Oshii announced that his next live action picture will be a new version of the classic big-bot story.

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Trailers are an under-appreciated art form insofar that many times they’re seen as vehicles for showing footage, explaining films away, or showing their hand about what moviegoers can expect. Foreign, domestic, independent, big budget: I celebrate all levels of trailers and hopefully this column will satisfactorily give you a baseline of what beta wave I’m operating on, because what better way to hone your skills as a thoughtful moviegoer than by deconstructing these little pieces of advertising? Some of the best authors will tell you that writing a short story is a lot harder than writing a long one, that you have to weigh every sentence. What better medium to see how this theory plays itself out beyond that than with movie trailers?

More Than A Game Trailer

So, if you’re sitting in the front row when LeBron James tosses his rosin up in the air like some sort of ass clown who wants to have a gimmick, the white dust probably settling somewhere in your twelve dollar Budweiser bomber, are you supposed to feel honored that he’s doing it in your presence? Oddly, most people say yes, you are.

I’ve missed the LeBron boat somewhere but it’s not surprising considering my hobby is film and not hoops. I have a love for documentary filmmaking, though, and have a special affinity for Hoop Dreams, one of the best portraits of kids trying to make it big in the world of professional sports that has ever been put out for public consumption. This trailer, though, rivets as it equally delights.
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