The Animatrix Network is an anime & manga fan club located in the Southwest suburbs of Chicago, Illinois. We usually meet on the fourth Saturday of each month (except when holidays or conventions coincide). The meetings are free and open to the public. Join us for a day filled with anime.
This site provides news, reviews, commentaries, and previews of the world of anime and everything it inspires, such as live-action films, comics, music, art, and other weird things to enjoy and contemplate.
Sunday, January 31, 2021
Saturday, January 30, 2021
Friday, January 29, 2021
Reki, a high school sophomore and skater, is addicted to “S,” a highly secret and dangerous downhill skateboarding race that takes place in an abandoned mine. The skaters are especially wild about the “beefs,” or heated battles that erupt in the races.
Reki takes Langa, a transfer student returning to Japan after studying abroad, to the mine where the races are held. Langa, who has no skateboarding experience, finds himself pulled into the world of “S”...
Thursday, January 28, 2021
Wednesday, January 27, 2021
- Kelly Marie Tran as Raya, a fearless and passionate warrior princess who has been training to become a Guardian of the Dragon Gem. To restore peace to Kumandra, she embarks in search for the last dragon.
- Awkwafina as Sisu, a water dragon who can transform into a human and is the last dragon in existence.
- Gemma Chan as Namaari, Raya's nemesis.
- Daniel Dae Kim as Chief Benja, Raya's father.
- Sandra Oh as Virana, Namaari's mother.
- Benedict Wong as Tong, a formidable giant.
- Izaac Wang as Boun, a 10-year-old entrepreneur.
- Thalia Tran as Little Noi, a baby con-artist.
- Alan Tudyk as Tuk Tuk, Raya's best friend and trusty steed.
- Lucille Soong, Patti Harrison, and Ross Butler as the leaders of the Talon, Tail, and Spine.
Tuesday, January 26, 2021
Monday, January 25, 2021
Sunday, January 24, 2021
Saturday, January 23, 2021
Because of this, and the crucial lack of US viewers (and support resulting from that) when the show was in production, it seems unlikely there will ever be more than the 26 episodes already made…two seasons, basically. This recent tweet from staff artist Wei Li, who refers to the series in the past tense and remarks that it “never took off,” seems to confirm that.
Friday, January 22, 2021
Thursday, January 21, 2021
Wednesday, January 20, 2021
This one gets weird...
Tuesday, January 19, 2021
Monday, January 18, 2021
Sunday, January 17, 2021
Saturday, January 16, 2021
Friday, January 15, 2021
Thursday, January 14, 2021
Wednesday, January 13, 2021
Tuesday, January 12, 2021
The Chief Knight of the Holy Emperor's Imperial Guard of Holy Empire of Lubelius and the Captain of the Western Holy Church's Crusaders, Hinata Sakaguchi receives a letter from an eastern merchant. In it, she reads about the kingdom of monsters; the Jura Tempest Federation, and its shocking facts. As a former student of Shizu, just what could Hinata be thinking about Rimuru? Here we will look back on Rimuru's story as we enter the new turbulent chapter.
Monday, January 11, 2021
Sunday, January 10, 2021
Saturday, January 9, 2021
The film opened on December 18, 2020, in Japan.
19-year-old actress Hamabe Minami (live-action anohana: The Flower We Saw That Day special’s Menma, live-action Saki film’s title role, Hello World film’s Ruri Ichigyō) is starring in the film as Emma. 13-year-old Kairi Jyo (live-action My Little Monster and Erased) and 17-year-old Itagaki Rihito (Show By Rock!! stage musical) are playing Ray and Norman, respectively.
Hirakawa Yūichirō (live-action ERASED film, live-action Rookies series) is directing the film. Gotou Noriko is penning the film’s script. Hirakawa and Gotou worked together on the live-action Erased film.
Actress Kitagawa Keiko (live-action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon‘s Sailor Mars, Paradise Kiss) will play Isabella (“Mama”), while comedian Watanabe Naomi (live-action KANNAsa-n!‘s Kanna Suzuki) will play Krone.
Shirai and Demizu launched Yakusoku no Neverland manga in Shueisha‘s Weekly Shonen Jump magazine in August 2016, and ended it on June 15.
Friday, January 8, 2021
Thursday, January 7, 2021
Wednesday, January 6, 2021
Dante Basco, who voiced Zuko in the original series and Iroh II in the spin-off, The Legend of Korra, announced that the voice actors of Avatar: The Last Airbender were getting together for a special reunion event.
Jack De Sena (Sokka), Grey Griffin (Azula), Olivia Hack (Ty Lee), Jennie Kwan (Suki), Cricket Leigh (Mai), and Michaela Murphy (Toph) are all officially confirmed to come back, with other special guests being announced at a later date.
According to Dante's Instagram post, Katara's voice actress, Mae Whitman, is tagged in the post. Meanwhile, also include #Aang and #UncleIroh, which points to a possibility of seeing Zach Tyler Eisen and Greg Baldwin join in on the fun as well. However, with the show's big legacy and dozens of other voice stars and beloved characters, the possibility is honestly endless.
Fans who are hoping to check out the special reunion can buy tickets over at StageIt, where the show will also be taking place on Saturday, January 9, starting at 6 PM ET/3 PM PT. Tickets are $10. They can also buy some autographs, voice recordings, and merch from their favorite actors if they want to buy a special gift for themselves or other fans at the reunion's official page.
So tell your whole gang because you definitely don't want to miss this!
Tuesday, January 5, 2021
Monday, January 4, 2021
Tsuneo Suzukawa is a university student enjoying an easy-going lifestyle while working part-time at a mah-jong parlour. While walking his boss' dog, he sees a pram roll down a hill and collide with a traffic barrier. The owner of the pram, an elderly woman, asks him to check to see if her granddaughter is safe. Upon inspecting the pram, Tsuneo finds the occupant is not a baby, but a young woman named Kumiko wielding a kitchen knife. Tsuneo accompanies Kumiko and her grandmother back to their home, where Kumiko cooks them a meal. Kumiko's grandmother tells Tsuneo that she regularly takes her granddaughter out for early morning walks in the pram as Kumiko cannot walk due to a disability, a fact her grandmother conceals from their neighbours. Tsuneo, fascinated by Kumiko and her strong willed personality, begins to visit regularly and the two become friends. During one of his later visits, Tsuneo asks Kumiko what her name is, despite already knowing from their first encounter. She tells him her name is Josee, after a character from her favourite book, and he begins referring to her as such.
After modifying the pram by attaching it to a skateboard, Tsuneo persuades Josee to sneak out while her grandmother is asleep and the two ride around the city. Upon their return, Josee's grandmother becomes angry at the risk they took and tells Tsuneo to leave. However, Tsuneo later manages to persuade her to apply for social welfare, allowing for their house to be renovated to make things easier for Josee. During the renovation, Josee finds out about Tsuneo and Kanae's relationship and becomes jealous. Josee's grandmother, wanting to protect Josee from heartbreak, tells Tsuneo to stop visiting once and for all. Tsuneo complies until a few days later, when during a job interview he discovers that Josee's grandmother has died. He abruptly leaves the interview to go see Josee. The two have tea together, where Josee informs Tsuneo that she is coping fine on her own. Tsuneo reacts with disgust after Josee tells him that one of her neighbours takes out her trash in exchange for letting him touch her breasts, and Josee angrily tells Tsuneo to get out. As Tsuneo goes to leave, Josee embraces him and asks him to stay with her forever, to which Tsuneo calmly agrees. They kiss and later have sex. Shortly after Tsuneo moves into the house, Josee encounters Kanae who accuses her of using her disability to manipulate Tsuneo into a relationship. They have a brief altercation and Kanae walks away.
A few months later, Josee and Tsuneo break up. After leaving their house for the last time, Tsuneo meets up with his ex-girlfriend Kanae and they walk together. As they make their way down the street, Tsuneo breaks down in tears as he realises he will probably never see Josee again.
Sunday, January 3, 2021
Saturday, January 2, 2021
Those fortunate enough to ride this out at home watch the nation come apart on TV screens, marveling at how slowly time moves when everything cracks. This is part of the reason depictions of the COVID age left us wanting. Shows designed to reflect our new Zoom existence – "Connecting," "Love in the Time of Corona," "Social Distance" – arrived, and nobody cared.
Movies like "Outbreak" and "World War Z" surged in popularity at the beginning of the pandemic, but more than half a year later and with no end in sight to quarantine living, Amazon failed to successful tap into our anxiety with "Utopia, " a show set in the midst of pandemic. AMC's long-running post-apocalypse soap "The Walking Dead" returned to close out its season and netted its lowest ratings ever.
And a week ago, CBS All Access debuted its highly anticipated, star-studded updated version of "The Stand" to a resounding "meh."
Evidently we'd rather tune out reminders of the ways the world as we know it is falling down. Then again, maybe the issue is with how these stories are filtering our current reality. The "distanced" series failed to consider the audience's Zoom fatigue into the equation. "Utopia" is too messy and convoluted. Whether "The Stand" is a hit or miss depends heavily on the depth of a viewer's love for all or most things Stephen King, but its central conflict between light and darkness plays out onscreen as banal.
Thus I was utterly surprised to be drawn in by "Alice in Borderland," Netflix's recently released eight-episode suspense thriller directed by Shinsuke Sato and based on a manga series. This description automatically eliminates a vast swath of America from its potential viewership. For some reason we'd rather not deal with subtitles unless it's attached to a show featuring Klingons, Jawas, dragons, barbarians or Danish detectives.
To make direct comparison with "The Stand," "Alice in Borderland" handles the mechanics of introducing its characters more effectively and it doesn't throw off the audience by leaning heavily on flashbacks. What glimpses it shows of its characters' pasts are solely presented to contextualize their action in the present. Knowing the type of people they were before they tumbled into its dystopia is important, but unlike "The Stand," the "before" profiles aren't extensive to the point of dragging on the story's progress.
On the other hand, "The Stand" is a gentler story, which says plenty about the vicious nature of "Alice in Borderland" and may further narrow its appeal.
Unless, I should say, you're a fan of the 2000 cinematic cult classic "Battle Royale," the story of a busload of schoolkids who are knocked out and wake up on an island, at which point they are informed that by law they must now hunt and kill each other until only one of them remains. This Netflix show hints at what a series adaptation of that film could look like, albeit one influenced by "Ready Player One" and sprinkles of "Lost" thrown in for good measure.
"Alice in Borderland" doesn't flow like some simple pop culture mash-up or behave expressly as an eight-hour, end of days action blast. The slaughter is over the top, yes. Lots of rooms and buildings explode, and the bullets fly freely. By no means is it a culture-shifting epic, either; the script makes the same dumb missteps other shows like it trip over. (I was especially irritated by a scene threatening sexual violence against a main female character in order to highlight Arisu's impotence. Surely Sato watched "Game of Thrones," right?)
"Alice in Borderland" also endeavors to say something about the conditions that lead to a society losing its humanity, eventually asking its protagonists, and the audience by proxy, how they want to live once they've made it through whatever nightmares they have to survive.
That's the question posted to Arisu, this story's Alice (Kento Yamazaki) and an avid gamer who refuses to get a job or contribute to society in any meaningful way. "If only we could reset reality," Arisu sighs after his father kicks him out, which happens at the same time his friends Karube (Keita Machida) and Chota (Yuki Morinaga) suffer misfortunes of their own making. They meet up, blow off steam by goofing off and eventually dash into a train station toilet.
When they emerge, the city streets are inexplicably empty and without power. Not even their phones work. Then a digital sign suddenly appears on the side of a nearby skyscraper that directs them to their first game where they quickly learn by doing and barely surviving.
That Arisu doesn't believe in his own cleverness and worth is central to the first couple of episodes until circumstances force him to find some purpose in this violent world. To make it out of this world alive, he has to use his wits.
Game types correspond to playing card suits: Spades are physical competitions. Clubs require teamwork. Diamonds favor intelligent, logical players. Hearts are downright evil because they force players to toy with and betray each another.
None of the rules in this upside-down hellscape are negotiable. Giving up is not an option, because refusal to participate means game over by way of laser execution.
Why would anyone living amid an era defined by a senseless death watch something like this? For the same reasons we flock to Suzanne Collins' "Hunger Games" series, "Logan's Run," "The Running Man" or any grim vision of humankind's tendency to be inhumane to other people. Watching under-resourced and outgunned heroes overcome the odds is eternally satisfying – and as Arisu insists, every game has a solution.
In the same way "Battle Royale" was not expressly about cruel violence for diversion's sake, "Alice in Borderland" runs on a mystery hiding a critique of societal divisions enabled by technology and expanded as a result of other systemic failings.
Before "Borderland" Arisu spent most of his time in online battle royale games, the kind that foster thriving virtual economies and attract millions of player who use the space to socialize. (Think "Fortnite.") You can spend the majority of your waking life in these virtual spaces without physically engaging with real people and the world around you. Most gamers don't do that, but enough do to make it a culturewide problem.
Such games became massively popular in recent years and not for nothing. On Dec. 10, the same day "Alice in Borderland" debuted on Netflix, the Los Angeles Review of Books published an essay by writer Brendan Mackie that spells out why such games appeal to hundreds of millions of players, the majority of whom are under 25 years old.
In his estimation, they are the result of the broken promise of supposed neoliberal meritocracy. A good education no longer guarantees that a person will secure an income that helps build wealth, let alone pay the bills. Hard work does not necessarily equal economic advancement either, not in a society whose decks are stacked to favor the one percent. Hence Mackie's thesis:
The "Alice in Borderland" plot draws upon this concept, in that there is no obvious pathway to the ultimate goal when Arisu, Karube and Chota first set out on their journey. Eventually we discover that players don't necessarily share a common goal. Most of whom they encounter are only focused on survival, and more than a few are dressed like salarymen, corporate drones slogging through dead-end careers.
Several also wonder aloud what's the point of surviving if there isn't anything else to live for beside earning free time in an empty, lawless city.
"Survive" and "survival" are said so frequently throughout "Alice in Borderland" that when someone mentions "living," it stands out, and that's probably intentional.
Arisu's chance meeting and eventual alliance with an athlete named Usagi (Tao Tsuchiya) firms up this notion; one of the first questions she asks of him is, "Do you want to live?" They're not inside of a life-or-death contest when she asks it; he's collapsed on the ground and professes he wants to die, and she has just picked up a copy of Henry David Thoreau's "Life in the Woods."
In a former life Usagi climbed mountains with her father, a famous pro who vanished after a scandal and is presumed dead. Through Usagi refusal to let Arisu give up, she shows a determination to live within this world as she survives each trial. This may also increase her odds of "winning," whatever that means.
Watch closely and you may notice that she and other players who clear impossible games and navigate dangerous alliances share a drive to move forward as opposed to being motivated by the chance to return to their old lives.
Nearly every poor soul drawn into this terrible place is motivated to return to the original world, but only the ones who think like a game master as opposed to a powerless gamer have a chance. They win because they focus, determinedly, on the value of existing as opposed to surrendering to paralysis by fear which, in this scenario, is death. And the way this plays out forher is dark, and wild, but also bizarrely thrilling.
"How will you live in this world that's full of despair?" asks someone who happens to be one of the smarter and more skilled players in the game. We could, and should, be asking that of ourselves in this reality and more to the point, be determined to solve that puzzle.