ANN Mamoru Oshii page

My average ranking: 6.33

Director Pantheon: Mamoru Oshii Rating
Angel's Egg (movie) Not really good

This film reminds me of the story of the Emperor's New Clothes. It's as if it is screaming at the viewer - see how sophicated and profound is the cut of my cloth. Really, it's just dull and pretentious. Look again and there's nothing of note to be seen. Mamoru Oshii is at his best when he manages to tie his philosophical musings to a good plot but, alas, the plot is slight and the musings obscure.
Ani-Kuri 15 (special) Decent

Project Mermaid. From an anthology of fifteen one minute segments shown on Japan's NHK network. Individual rating: Decent.
Dallos (OAV) So-so

Despite the reputation of its director Mamoru Oshii and its historical place in anime as the first ever OVA, this is an undistinguished anime with a mundane plot and dull characters. It is severely limited by the conventions of its time and, to a lesser degree, the sparseness of its budget. The hero - Shun - is a regular enthusiastic young guy seen so often in the 80s, with a shrinking violet female friend, conventional parents, a sage-like grandfather and an earnest action-oriented rebel leader friend. The only notable character for the time is the villain - Alex the lunar governor - whose behaviour is so campy and ambiguous it feels as if he belongs in something made at least ten years later.

There are hints of Oshii's unique vision but it mostly lacks his otherworldly, contemplative moments that I love so much. Think of the Major wandering the canals in the first Ghost in the Shell movie, or the Detective Matsui's exploration of the deserted, crumbling streets in the first Patlabor movie. In Dallos you get glimpses in the portentous images of the head of Dallos and in the final scenes depicting Shun's trip by lunar hovercraft so his grandfather can get one last view of earth. The bitter irony as Shun stands among the tombstones with the earth above is pure Oshii but there's almost two hours of dross before you get there.

Ghost in the Shell (movie) Very good

Beautiful cyber punk imagery easily makes up for a flimsy plot and some woolly philosophising. As always with Mamoru Oshii films, it's the visuals that take your breath away. The Wandering the City chapter, where Kusanagi travels through the city canals in the evening rain is probably my favourite musical interlude in anime movies. And, guess what? It's Oshii doing what Oshii does best - visuals. And full credit to the wonderful, ghostly accompaniment from Kenji Kawai.
Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence (movie) Good

It's not as if Mamoru Oshii plots are contradictory or silly; it's more that there never is much plot to begin with. Like much of his work the pacing of Innocence is deliberate, to say the least, and individual scenes are stretched out (or repeated) unnecessarily. Often it doesn't matter as, visually, the movies are usually a treat. But here, the visuals are so obviously artificial that they are positively alienating. There is no sense of engagement in this film, partly because I constantly felt a gulf between myself and the unfolding events but also for the mundane reason that the Major is absent for all but the last portion of the film and neither Batou nor Togusa have the presence to carry the film without her. There's also the makings of a great sci-fi horror story here - extraction of the souls of abducted girls to animate sex dolls - but this creepy plot twist isn't revealed until after the villains are defeated - when it no longer matters.
Patlabor 2: The Movie Good

In the "Making Of..." extra with this film, director Mamoru Oshii explains that the most important things to him in a film are the visuals. As good as they are in Patlabor 2, and they are very good, they do leave insufficient time to properly develop what is a complex plot. The escalation of the crisis to the level of a pseudo coup isn't sufficiently plausible and the scene where Shinobu Nagumo meets her former lover on a boat in a canal is largely incomprehensible, even after repeat viewings. As is usual for Oshii, the plot is just a hook upon which to hang some great visual ideas. The aerial scenes are breathtaking and the images that accompany the river journey discussion between Arakawa and Goto on the nature of war and peace would have been even better without the dialogue. Still, it's great to watch an anime with an adult ensemble, something that is becoming increasingly uncommon in anime.
Patlabor The Mobile Police (OAV 1/1988) Decent

Fun but uneven set of unlinked stories from the Patlabor world. While the cast is memorable - especially the deadpan Goto and the capable action-woman Kanuka Clancy - and the jokes laugh-aloud at times, the series never quite melds its action and comic elements cohesively. The absurdity is fun but it undermines the moments of drama, while the fantastical elements such as sea monsters and supposed ghosts spoil what otherwise may have been exceptional entertaimment aimed at adults. Nevertheless, it was definitely worth the time I spent on it. The picture quality of this Madman release is far superior to their earlier dreadful Patlabor movie releases (especially the first).
Patlabor: The Movie Good

To someone who has never seen the series the main problem with the movie is trying to figure out who on earth everyone is and what their role within the Patlabor team is. By the second viewing and some judicious use of Wikipedia things become clearer and the story can be enjoyed, especially since, untypically for Mamoru Oshii the allegory is kept to a minumum. Still, and this time typically Oshii, the best parts of the movie are those interludes where the camera observes the scenery almost as a silent commentary on a near future Tokyo. The plot is based on a puzzle so the characters are reacting to events, not driving them, until the last few dramatic scenes. Picture quality on this Madman release is below par.
(The) Sky Crawlers (movie) Good

I saw this in a packed cinema at the Melbourne Film Festival. Ninety per cent of audience left during the end credits, which meant that: 1) they missed the final sting in the tale; and 2) they quite possibly also missed the whole point of this highly ironic movie. In yet another of his allegories Director Mamoru Oshii is not only taking a swipe at Japanese conservatism but he also is jabbing his finger straight at us, the anime audience: do we really want more of the same or do we want to be challenged? The problem, of course, with this sort of challenge is that you are limiting your dialogue to a narrow audience. Nevertheless, there's lots of aerial eye candy, a creepy, somnambulistic atmosphere and just enough thrills to entertain even if you don't have a clue what's going on.