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REVIEW: Sky Crawlers


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LordPrometheus



Joined: 02 Sep 2007
Posts: 422
PostPosted: Mon Dec 22, 2008 12:20 am Reply with quote
Wow, that was an amazing and insightful review, Justin. I always enjoy reading your thoughts on these "mysterious cartoons". Wink

I've heard a lot of hype for this film, so it's good to know that it succeeds on such a deep level. Hopefully it'll come to a theater close to me eventually. Does anyone possibly have a link for showtimes/dates/cities for screenings?
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reanimator



Joined: 25 Nov 2007
Posts: 1137
PostPosted: Mon Dec 22, 2008 1:34 am Reply with quote
Thank you for the excellent review.

I think Oshii addresses the problem which some anime fans in the western hemisphere are succumbing to. Certain older fans I know are having similar problem as Japanese counterpart. I once knew a 30 year old man who pride himself as Otaku and do cosplay at a local anime/comic convention. He had a part time menial labor and dropped out of college for years.
I lost touch with him for a long time, so I don't know what he does now.
Personally I do have similar problem. It's embarrassing to go into detail. Let's just say that my life is not going anywhere. Now I'm considering how to get out of the rut.
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Redxr



Joined: 03 Nov 2007
Posts: 7
PostPosted: Mon Dec 22, 2008 2:29 am Reply with quote
I don't usually comment on reviews but this one was a must. A truly heartfelt review that describes what many anime fans go through and for some, never get past. This is definitely on the top of my list of animes to watch. One thing I wish you would have commented on is the soundtrack by the man himself, Kenji Kawai. I've been listening to the soundtrack since I could get by grubby hands on it and it's such a beautiful soundtrack.
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bridgetosolace



Joined: 11 Mar 2008
Posts: 17
PostPosted: Mon Dec 22, 2008 2:46 am Reply with quote
Simultaneously a very intelligent but kind of failed review. This comes off more as a film analysis than a review, which is a negative.

A review is supposed to set up the basic set-up of the story, but you at least seem to go far beyond that. And I still don't quite get the point of mentioning the wrestler. Desperate for an intro, I guess >_>

But yeah, it's intelligent and thoughtful and well written. Just beyond the scope that it's really supposed to have as a review. I tried to give the review a cursory read to get your opinion of it, but it's difficult to find under the analysis and plot summary.
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jsevakis
ANN Director of New Media


Joined: 28 Jul 2003
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PostPosted: Mon Dec 22, 2008 2:57 am Reply with quote
bridgetosolace wrote:
Simultaneously a very intelligent but kind of failed review. This comes off more as a film analysis than a review, which is a negative. I tried to give the review a cursory read to get your opinion of it, but it's difficult to find under the analysis and plot summary.

I would argue that the analysis is the opinion. The best, most challenging films often don't elicit an "it's good/it's bad" response, but rather thought and introspection. That's what this review attempts to share. Dilluting it to a simple opinion would do both the film and the reader a disservice.

If this isn't an acceptable condition to a film for you, then I recommend you avoid The Sky Crawlers. You will absolutely hate it. You should also avoid Fellini, Bergman, Ozu, Tarkovsky...
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GATSU



Joined: 03 Jan 2002
Posts: 14269
PostPosted: Mon Dec 22, 2008 3:13 am Reply with quote
Quote:
I bring up The Wrestler because without it, in retrospect, I probably would not have appreciated (or understood) Mamoru Oshii's new film The Sky Crawlers to the extent I did.


Still waiting for a cheaper theater near me to play the former film.

Quote:
The voice work is especially notable, despite some hard-to-decode Engrish exchanges over the fighter jets' radio system.


It's not helped by Sony's arbitrary application of subtitles.

Anyway, I think you're misreading too much into the subtext of the story in a way not dissimilar to Carl's take on the Blood novel. If you want a message anime movie, you watch something from Miyazaki. Sky Crawlers is simply Oshii trying to sell his visual trickery to a younger generation. Ever since Eva's success, every animator wants in on that man-child-message-to-teen-brat gravy train; and Oshii-not to mention Otomo with Steamboy-is simply following that trend.

I'd love this sucker to be a jab at otaku, myself, but let's be honest: No one in that sub-culture actually looks like the Squall-like or Motoko 90210-like characters we get in the film. Believe me, if this were a commentary on a certain segment of Japanese society, then they wouldn't even be going outside to fly. Laughing At best, Sky Crawlers is making fun of gamers in a style reminiscent of Avalon.

No, this flick is just an excuse for Oshii to try to come off "edgy" by spoiler[killing off] potentially likable characters as a way to maintain his cred. But frankly, I hated that approach in Jin Roh, and I hope it ends here. Though at least, unlike Sky Crawlers, I didn't have to go to the bathroom a number of times during Jin Roh. And at least Jin Roh actually changes after each bathroom-break.
Rolling Eyes

Unlike his previous work, Oshii decides to wing it [No pun intended.] by opting for a literal interpretation of his conceit, rather than exploring the potential paths and possibilities available for these characters and this world. It's like he saw a bootleg of that Benjamin Button trailer, and decided to make an anime version of it. And it doesn't help that the bonus ending after the credits is fairly predictable, either. [Or even everything leading up to it.] So if you need plane fantasy porn, watch Porco Rosso or the Cockpit instead. And if you need better reincarnation fantasy story-telling, pick up Mermaid Forest and Phoenix. But if you want a dry alternate reality with little change of scenery and little emotional investment, then I guess Sky Crawlers is for you.

But unlike bridget, I have no problem with the actual structure of your review. Keep up the good work, Justin.


Last edited by GATSU on Mon Dec 22, 2008 3:16 am; edited 1 time in total
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Big Hed



Joined: 04 May 2006
Posts: 1607
Location: Melbourne, Australia
PostPosted: Mon Dec 22, 2008 3:15 am Reply with quote
bridgetosolace wrote:
Just beyond the scope that it's really supposed to have as a review.


I disagree. For me, the review satisfied its single most important objective: it piqued my interest in watching the film.

Not that I wasn't interested before this, but Sky Crawlers sounds utterly fascinating now. I only hope that I am capable of understanding the film's many layers. And the Engrish.
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here-and-faraway



Joined: 21 Jun 2007
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PostPosted: Mon Dec 22, 2008 4:09 am Reply with quote
Hmmm...can't tell if I'll love it or hate it, but I'm definitely interested...
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Fronzel



Joined: 11 Sep 2003
Posts: 1900
PostPosted: Mon Dec 22, 2008 4:49 am Reply with quote
Justin Sevakis wrote:
the real target of Oshii's scorn is the anime itself:...little more than the same old thing repeated ad infinitum, with seldom an echo of originality.

Bra. Goddamn. Vo.

Even the better shows of recent seasons are mostly just slight spins on established forumlas and there's a dreadful creep in the amount of otaku fetish content. I'm sick of it.

I wonder if I'll actually like this one, though. The last Oshii works I partook of were GitS: Innocence and the Blood novel, neither of which I enjoyed at all.
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reanimator



Joined: 25 Nov 2007
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PostPosted: Mon Dec 22, 2008 5:37 am Reply with quote
GATSU, I don't know why you're getting all critical about this review. Personally I'm not a big Oshii fan, so I don't dig his political theme films.
There is nothing wrong bringing up the unpleasant reality of Anime and its fans that plagued Japanese creative industries for years. I felt this relief of something stuck in my throat coming out. Someone decided to make some kind of statement about it. And I'm glad for that.
Japan is having serious creative problems and most animation and comic creators haven't experienced some kind of significant external stimulus to inspired them. I'm pretty sure a lot of us are tired of generic storyline and production designs. Next season, Japanese studios are releasing 24 new titles and most of them are just another Manga regurgitation. That tell me one thing: Creativity is watered down to the core and there is no replacement.
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GATSU



Joined: 03 Jan 2002
Posts: 14269
PostPosted: Mon Dec 22, 2008 6:36 am Reply with quote
reanimator: I wasn't being critical of the review, just the film. And a guy who hasn't done anything creative in years himself is hardly in a position to criticize the industry. Now I'll admit that there's a lack of original material nowadays, but not because of fandom in general, but because of lower expectations on the part of production companies. They just want to sell a product to a particular demo and take the money and run. There's very little emphasis on an all-pleasing series nowadays.
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dtm42



Joined: 05 Feb 2008
Posts: 14022
Location: Currently stalking my waifu
PostPosted: Mon Dec 22, 2008 6:40 am Reply with quote
here-and-faraway wrote:
Hmmm...can't tell if I'll love it or hate it, but I'm definitely interested...


My feelings exactly.

However, I do find it extraordinarily hypocritical (is that the right word?) of Oshii to lambast Anime and those who watch it, by making an Anime film. Seems kind of contrary to his stated goals; if he dislikes the culture so much, why is he further helping it by making a movie that Anime fans will see?

Actually, that just brought up a good point. While I think the review was a good one, and while I enjoyed reading Justin's professional take on this, I have to remember that it is only an opinion. Yes, he knows Anime better than me, and he definitely knows film better than I do. But I've realised that I am taking his word as gospel, and accepting that his interpretation is absolutely correct.

Maybe he is indeed spot on with what point Oshii is trying to make. I'm not saying he isn't. But it seems sort of silly of me to just blindly accept that this film's subtext is one of anti-Anime when I haven't even seen the film for myself.

So yes, though Justin's interpretation was presented as fact (for all I know it could be), I should still endeavour to go into the theatre with an open mind.
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jsevakis
ANN Director of New Media


Joined: 28 Jul 2003
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PostPosted: Mon Dec 22, 2008 7:05 am Reply with quote
I'm glad everyone is approaching this film with an open mind. I think it's important that every film be approached in this way.

Just so I'm not taking more credit than I deserve, the idea of the film being a pointed, perhaps interventionist depiction of hikikomori and those stuck in a perpetual adolescence comes directly from the press kit, and from Oshii's notes. So while there is certainly some interpretation on my end in this review, its indirect subject matter is pretty much declared outright. Its being a more pointed analysis of the anime side of such matters is where my interpretation comes in.

But of course, one of the great things about art is that it can mean different things to different people. While I personally don't see GATSU's interpretation in the film, I look forward to seeing it again with his comments in mind. As I would anybody else's.

It looks like we won't have long to wait. Sony hasn't given me a date, but they seem like they plan on fast-tracking a DVD/BD release.
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halfmagic



Joined: 22 Dec 2008
Posts: 1
PostPosted: Mon Dec 22, 2008 7:05 am Reply with quote
Why does sky crawlers seem like a role reversal of Gattaca? In sky crawlers you basically have kildren and normals. Gattaca you have valids and invalids. In Gattaca, invalids (normals) are cast aside for the menial jobs, while valids are given most of the successful careers. In sky crawlers the kildren are cast aside and used as basically corporate war entertainment. Valids in Gattaca are not easily suseptible to disease but they do age, while kildren I think are immortal. In my opinion, I think Gattaca shows more of the endurance of the human spirit, while sky crawlers has more social commentary going on. They both have the 1950s vibe going on. Both Yuchi and Vincent (Gattaca) try to gain control of their own lives. Vincent, deemed normal trying to obtain the higher level of perfection and Yuchi a perfect trying to obtain a level of normalcy. It was just interesting noting the whole dynamic between the two movies.
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crilix



Joined: 16 Nov 2005
Posts: 208
PostPosted: Mon Dec 22, 2008 7:11 am Reply with quote
dtm42 wrote:
So yes, though Justin's interpretation was presented as fact (for all I know it could be),
The problem is that his interpretation--no matter how far off it actually is--is respected and thus worth something to certain fan circles. As such, it can be unjustly damaging to the film's creators, particularly someone like Oshii Mamoru. The analysis seems all too fitting for all the shit Sevakis is going through right now as an industry insider. I'll try not to fall into a rage fest just yet as I have yet to see the film though.
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