When Yu Narukami moves to the country town of Inaba to stay with his uncle and cousin, he's expecting a lot more peace and quiet than he's used to in the big city. What he isn't expecting is for his uncle's job as a police detective to spill over into his own life, or for the murders that are occurring across town to be somehow linked to Yu's own strange experiences, odd local weather patterns, and a mysterious TV show world that seems to be attempting to get Yu to enter it! Now, together with a new group of friends, Yu must plunge into a bizarre alternate reality where he gains unique abilities that will either help him solve the riddle of the mystery killer... or lead him to his doom.
Helen McCarthy tries to avoid getting sucked into the screen
There's nothing new under the sun. The idea of people caught inside a TV screen isn't new, even in anime: Video Girl Ai did the same thing back in the days of cassette tape. The idea that in another reality, you have special powers and a vital purpose, has been exploited by shows from Sailor Moon to Vision of Escaflowne. The displaced teen hero is found in myriad places, from Princess Mononoke's early Japan to Fullmetal Alchemist's Nazi Europe. The sentai concept, the teen-led team with its mix of strengths and mutual respect goes all the way back to the 60s, with Osamu Tezuka's puppet adventure Galaxy Boy Troop predating 1966 anime Rainbow Sentai Robin.
Persona 4 was originally released in 2008 on the PlayStation 2 and is currently available in brilliantly enhanced form as Persona 4 Golden on the PlayStation Vita. While the tale of the nameless hero (Yu Narukami in the anime) and his friends in the small but macabre town of Inaba became arguably the most popular entry in the Persona series of role-playing games, it was far from the first.
Andrew Osmond on the final part of Persona 4: The Animation
The third and last volume of Persona 4 The Animation – released like its predecessors as a Blu-ray/DVD combo pack – shows the full spectrum of the series. The first volume was adventure-heavy, as hero Yu and his growing circle of friends sought the serial killer dispatching victims in the country town of Inaba; a mystery linked to a foggy fantasy world behind the TV screen. The second volume tied up – well, seemed to tie up – that arc early on, then told lighter-hearted stories tying into the show’s theme of friendship. However, Volume 2 ended with another action-heavy story confirming that the serial-killer mystery wasn’t solved, and recruiting the last warrior in Yu’s band of heroes – the cross-dressing “boy” detective Naoto, voiced by Japanese actress Romi Park (Edward Elric in Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood).
Ever wonder just how Goku and friends became the greatest heroes on Earth? Wonder no more, as the original Dragon Ball reveals the origins of Akira Toriyama’s beloved creations! The faces may look familiar, but everything else is different in this classic series!
Andrew Osmond on the history of man-machine interfaces
RoboCop is thrown into interesting perspective by looking at his anime cousins. In Japan, RoboCop is one of a crowd. Two of anime’s greatest poster icons – Motoko Kusanagi in Ghost in the Shell and Tetsuo in Akira – are or become cyborgs. Moreover, a man-turned-robot was an anime hero back in 1963. We’re talking about 8th Man, shown in America as Tobor the Eighth Man. It’s a policeman who, yes, gets murdered by a crime gang, then resurrected in a robot body.
Both Puella Magi Madoka Magica and Mawaru Penguindrum are strange, subversive creatures. They’re anime that borrow the ideas and imagery of cartoons for young children, but they’re aimed at much older viewers.
The Japan Foundation’s annual touring film programme is back for another year, and kicking off at London’s Institute of Contemporary Arts at the end of the month. Now in its tenth iteration, the season offers audiences across the UK an insight into Japan and its cinema by way of a wide-ranging and accessible selection of titles assembled under a certain theme. This year, that theme is youth, with the eleven-film ‘East Side Stories: Japanese Cinema Depicting the Lives of Youth’ programme travelling to eight venues across England, Scotland and Northern Ireland from 31 January to 27 March.
Sports have been around in anime from very early in its history, but the first identifiable sports anime, Yasuji Murata's Animal Olympics in 1928, didn't feature soccer. In fact, the beautiful game was a latecomer to the anime sports world. Compared with baseball, soccer had few fans.
Director Naoyoshi Shiotani on getting the darkness right
“In every theatre you have different light, so you can never be sure what it’s going to look like. So you have to think; will this be okay, will you lose details in that kind of darkness? It was hard to calculate all that.”