Hope’s Peak Academy is an exclusive private school that only accepts the best of the best. Graduates of this elite – yet enigmatic – institution have the world at their fingertips, but getting a cap and gown is easier said than done. The hallowed halls are ruled by the sadistic administrator Monokuma, who declares that the only way to pass the class is by sending a fellow student home in a body bag. If you can get away with murder, you’ll get your diploma. But if you’re caught red handed, you’ll find yourself on the receiving end of a deadly detention slip! When your principal is psychotic and your finals are fatal, high school goes from being the best years of your life – to your last.
Matt Kamen follows the white rabbit in this brutal prison saga
After an environmental disaster ravages Tokyo, three quarters of the city is wiped from the Earth. What’s left of the once-bustling metropolis is re-developed into Japan’s largest prison, a privately owned concern known as Deadman Wonderland, that forces inmates into sadistic carnival shows for bloodthirsty spectators. To force participation, prisoners are collared with a device that slowly poisons them, a lethal dose building up over three days unless they eat a foul-tasting piece of candy to purge their system and reset the timer. The prison’s chief warden Makina is a no-nonsense ball-buster who never hesitates to punish insubordination or misbehaviour, often with a slash of her lethal sword.
The hyperrealism of the “cartoon” Akira and the cartoonishness of the live-action Tetsuo struck Western viewers unaccustomed to such mould-breaking cinema with equal force, and it is no real surprise to note that Manga Entertainment was responsible for the subsequent releases of both Tsukamoto’s big-budget colour rerun of his debut, Tetsuo II: Bodyhammer (1992) and his later Tokyo Fist.
Twenty years ago, the witch Bayonetta was hauled out of a deep lake, with no memory of her past, how she got there, or who might have hated her enough to put her there. She has in her possession half of an artefact known as the "Eyes of the World.” Joining forces with information broker Enzo, she sets off to find and steal the other half. But powerful forces are moving against her, forces known as the Angels.
Ninja Scroll is crammed with memorable images, set-pieces and characters. Like many of the best international anime hits, the contents of Ninja Scroll are foreign yet familiar. Instead of the future megacities of Akira, we’re deep in the Japanese countryside. We’re weaving through fog and fireflies, springing through treetops, sneaking down rivers, hanging halfway down stone cliffs.
It’s notable that, despite what you might think looking at the franchise now, Yu-Gi-Oh! was not conceived as a card game tie-in, any more than Totoro was made to sell soft toys (though both benefitted hugely from the spin-offs). When it began, the Yu-Gi-Oh! manga was rather different from the anime which most people know.
Andrew Osmond on why the Kaguya director deserves an Oscar
On February 22nd, The Tale of the Princess Kaguya, directed by Isao Takahata, will compete at the eighty-seventh Academy Awards. It’s a moment long overdue. Takahta has been called the Ozu of animation; it’s a medium he’s worked in since 1959, making both rarefied artworks and nationally-beloved favourites.