Next Club Meeting: October 23, 2021, at the Fountaindale Public Library in Bolingbrook from 11:00 am - 5:00 pm

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

Chronicles of the Ghostly Tribe

Chronicles of the Ghostly Tribe
The Mongolian Border, 1979: Massive fossils of unknown creatures are discovered in the mountains, and the research team assigned to excavate the remains includes acclaimed Professor Yang (Wang Qingxiang), Hu Bayi (Mark Chao), and Ping (Yao Chen), the professor' beautiful daughter. When a freak explosion, lethal bat attack, and fall to the mountain' floor leaves only a handful of survivors, the small remaining band uncovers a mythic Cyclopean Temple and an Interdimensional Portal that looses a pack of ravenous Hell-Beasts, leaving only Hu alive. New York City, Present Day: Now living a quiet but tormented life as a librarian, Hu studies demonology manuscripts to find answers for that fateful day. Little does he know that Professor Yang has just been found wandering the mountains thousands of miles from where he supposedly died; a young woman with amnesia was just discovered in a recently-uncovered tomb; and a Northern Chinese mining town has just been ravaged by giant, unknown creatures...

Saturday, January 30, 2021

Lupin - Official Trailer - Netflix

L U P I N
As a teenager, Assane Diop's life was turned upside down when his father died after being accused of a crime he didn’t commit. 25 years later, Assane will use "Arsène Lupin, Gentleman Burglar" as his inspiration to avenge his father. A Netflix Original Series only on Netflix.

Friday, January 29, 2021

SK8 the Infinity Trailer

SK8 the Infinity
Get ready for "SK8 the Infinity", a brand new, original anime from the all-star team featuring Hiroko Utsumi (Director), Ichiro Ohkouchi (Series Composition/Screenplay), Michinori Chiba (Character Design), and Animation Production by Bones, coming January 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

Wonder Egg Priority

Wonder Egg Priority
Ai scores a “Wonder Egg” from a gachapon machine at a deserted arcade. But now when Ai falls asleep a girl emerges from her Wonder Egg, the worlds of dreams and reality begin to collide. And it’s all connected.

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Raya and the Last Dragon - Official Trailer

Raya and the Last Dragon
Prepare to join Raya on her journey to find the last dragon! On March 5, check out Disney's Reya and the Last Dragon on Disney+ or in theatres near you. Raya and the Last Dragon tells the story of Raya (voiced by Kelly Marie Tran) and her search for the last dragon named Sisi (voiced by Nora Lum AKA Awkwafina) in a realm known as Kumandra, a re-imagined Earth which is populated by an ancient civilization.
Long ago, in the world of Kumandra, humans and dragons lived together in harmony. But when sinister monsters known as the Druun threatened the land, the dragons sacrificed themselves to save humanity. Now, 500 years later, those same monsters have returned and it's up to a lone warrior, Raya and her pet pill bug companion Tuk Tuk, to track down the last dragon in order to finally stop the Druun for good. However, along her journey, she'll learn that it'll take more than dragon magic to save the world—it's going to take trust as well.
Cast
  • 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

Kemono Jihen "Monster Incidents"

Kemono Jihen

"Monster Incidents"

When a series of animal bodies that rot away after a single night begin appearing in a remote mountain village, Inugami, a detective from Tokyo who specializes in the occult, is called to investigate. While working the case, he befriends a strange boy who works in the field every day instead of going to school. Shunned by his peers and nicknamed "Dorota-bou" after a yokai that lives in the mud, he helps Inugami uncover the truth behind the killings—but supernatural forces are at work, and while Dorota-bou is just a nickname, it might not be the only thing about the boy that isn't human.

Monday, January 25, 2021

GODZILLA VS KONG Official Trailer

GODZILLA vs. KONG
In a time when monsters walk the Earth, humanity's fight for its future sets Godzilla and Kong on a collision course that will see the two most powerful forces of nature on the planet collide in a spectacular battle for the ages. As Monarch embarks on a perilous mission into uncharted terrain and unearths clues to the Titans' origins, a human conspiracy threatens to wipe the creatures, both good and bad, from the face of the earth forever.

Sunday, January 24, 2021

The Monster Under My Bed

The Monster Under My Bed
Afraid of monsters under your bed? Don’t worry, Sasha has your back. When her brother suggests there might be a monster under her bed, Sasha finds the perfect solution to avoid this unwanted scenario: start sleeping there herself to make sure the place is already taken! Will Sasha’s plan work? Watch and find out! If you are looking for a warm, cute story with a dash of spice look no further. The Monster Under My Bed is a wholesome, heartwarming animated short film that pull at your heartstrings.

Saturday, January 23, 2021

Trailer For “Season 3” of Cleopatra In Space

SURPRISE! CLEOPATRA in SPACE
[Source: AnimeSuperhero] Cleopatra In Space was originally intended to premiere on a cable network, but was scooped up by NBC’s Peacock service…and since Peacock took quite a while to launch, the US didn’t see a trace of the show until last April. At that point the series had already aired everywhere else in the world.

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.
A few days ago a trailer for a third season appeared out of nowhere. Fully voiced, fully colored, ready to go in mere hours (launch date was January 14).

Friday, January 22, 2021

WAKFU Music Video: Tristepin & Yugo vs. Ogrest

Sir Tristepin & Yugo vs. Ogrest
Proving once again just how awesome
French anime really is!
Watch it!

Thursday, January 21, 2021

The Mandalorian Anime-Style

IF THE MANDALORIAN WAS AN ANIME
What would The Mandalorian be like as an Anime? Check out this fan made animation to get a glimpse of some possibilities.

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

"Immortal Machine" - Dystopian Animated Teaser

IMMORTAL MACHINE
This is a teaser trailer for our upcoming animated short film, "Immortal Machine". This will be the seventh animated short film in the Autodale series. The film will be uploaded here on Youtube on January 22nd. In this film, we go further into the heart of the city than we've ever gone before, revealing all the lies and atrocities that the city keeps hidden away. This film is about Autodale's immortal Mayor and follows the Exceptional Woman's indoctrination into becoming Hive.

This one gets weird...

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

The Best Space Games of 2021

Best Space Games of 2021
2021 looks to be an impressive year for space games, bringing some updates and improvements which dramatically change what it means to be a space game. This video then, highlights many of the best titles for 2021, along with an outside look at what may be coming in 2022.

Monday, January 18, 2021

Otherside Picnic Official Trailer

Otherside Picnic
College student Sorawo Kamikoshi explores "doors" which randomly lead into parallel worlds, in which internet creepypasta and urban legends are brought to life. Sorawo nearly dies in one of these worlds while encountering a creepypasta monster, but is rescued by Toriko Nishina, another young woman who is skilled with guns and is looking for a lost friend. Sorawo and Toriko, with the help of another woman named Kozakura, return to the parallel world to bring back artifacts and defeat the monsters, but the two are increasingly affected by the conditions of the parallel world, meet other humans who are trapped in the parallel world, and find themselves increasingly affected by each other.

Sunday, January 17, 2021

The Life-Changing Message of Pixar's Soul

The Meaning of SOUL
Pixar released a new movie. It was a good time. One of our favorite movies of theirs. And here we're going to talk about why. I hope you enjoy it!

Saturday, January 16, 2021

"Space Sweepers" - Official Teaser

SPACE SWEEPERS
Space Sweepers (Korean: 승리호; RR: Seungriho; lit. Spaceship Victory) is an upcoming South Korean space opera film directed by Jo Sung-hee, starring Song Joong-ki, Kim Tae-ri, Jin Seon-kyu and Yoo Hae-jin. Regarded as the first Korean space blockbuster, it is set to be released on Netflix on February 5, 2021. Set in 2092, Space Sweepers tells the story of a crew on board of The Victory trying to escape the destruction of Earth. 

Friday, January 15, 2021

All 37 Evangelion Timelines Explained

Evangelion Timelines Explained
Neon Genesis Evangelion has been around for over 20 years which means that’s 20 years of speculations and spin-offs to try to solve what ACTUALLY is happening in that show. Is it a Time Loop? Is it a remake? Does that weird Shave Impact ad count? We’ve looked at everything Evangelion and made the most accurate timeline on the internet. You Will (Not) Believe How Much Time Tim Spent On This.

Thursday, January 14, 2021

Top 10 Most Anticipated Anime of Winter 2021

Most Anticipated NEW Anime of Winter 2021
In this video, we will be going through ten of the most anticipated new/non-sequel anime this Winter 2021. 

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Erasing Disney Sequel Trilogy Has Already Begun

And Luke Skywalker is Leading the Way
-- STAR WARS RUMOR --

"The Star Wars sequel trilogy is being erased before our very eyes several of my sources claim, and the return of Luke Skywalker has already changed everything in the Star Wars universe. Here is a detailed and exclusive glimpse into Filoni and Favreau's plan to save Star Wars."                                           -  Overlord DVD

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime Season 2

That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime
Season Two
That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime is a 2018 television anime series based on the light novel series written by Fuse. The series follows a man who is killed and reincarnated in another world as a slime named Rimuru. The series is animated by Eight Bit with the staff and cast members reprising their roles.

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

How Mandalorian Should Have Ended (Season 1)

THE MANDALORIAN - SEASON ONE
This is How it Should Have Ended
How Star Wars: The Mandalorian Should Have Ended (Season One)

Sunday, January 10, 2021

Teaser trailer for RPG "DOFUS – L’île de Grobe"

DOFUS – L’île de Grobe
The adventure continues on Pandala. The second part of the "Awakening Pandala" update will soon give you access to Grobe Island. Are you foolish enough to venture into the Ancestral Graveyard of the Pandalians? Play the next chapter of DOFUS in the World of Wakfu. Dofus is a tactical turn-oriented massively multiplayer online role-playing game developed and published by Ankama Games, 
Dofus takes place in "The World of Twelve", named for the 12 gods that inhabit it. Players control a 2D avatar belonging to one of 18 character classes in a third-person view. Each class has a unique set of spells that other classes can not obtain. As with most other massively multiplayer online role-playing games, players gain levels by obtaining experience. Experience can be gained by defeating monsters and completing quests. With each level, players gain points that can be used to improve their avatar's characteristics and spells. Players can access new spells and equipment by advancing in level. Players receive a special 'aura' when they reach level 100, and gain a different aura at 200, the maximum level. Players may also decide to take up professions and frequently band together to undertake dungeons. Many also become part of guilds, to more easily coordinate with others. Players complete quests to gain experience and other rewards. 
While the game takes place in real-time, combat in Dofus is conducted more like a turn based strategy game – where each player takes it in turns to make a series of moves and attacks within a time limit. As such, when a player attacks monsters – they are transported to a 'copy map' where the fighting takes place. Once a fight begins, no other players may join that fight. Players use a series of spells (which are unique to that character class) to, amongst other effects, attack, heal, buff or drain one's Action Points (AP) or Movement Points (MP). All actions done in combat (by both players and monsters) consumes an amount of AP and all movement consumes MP. In combat if a character loses all of their health points (HP) they're rendered dead. 
Characters in Dofus can learn various professions. There is a special type of profession called a specialization which can enhance item stats. Collecting professions involve players going out into the wilderness and collecting natural resources, such as certain wood and flowers. These can be made into breads and the like that restore health. They may also be sold as many of them are needed as quests items. Crafting professions involve the player piecing collected resources together to make a vast array of different items. Players gain experience in each profession by gathering the resources of that profession and/or by crafting items, depending on the type. As a player's collecting profession gains levels, they can collect new types of resources and obtain resources quickly. When a crafting profession levels, the player can create more powerful items and create them with a higher success rate, meaning that crafting will fail less often. 
The currency used in Dofus is called "Kamas" (k). There are three cities that contain a marketplace where people can buy and sell goods and equipment for a fee. The kamas from these sales deposit directly into the player's bank account. Accounts are separated into two categories, Free-to-Play and Pay-to-Play. The game includes a zone accessible to Free-to-Play accounts. Free accounts have access to the new player zone of Incarnam and access to the city of Astrub and most of its outlying areas. This makes it possible for a new player to enjoy seemingly full game play, unbounded by time restrictions. Access to the entire world of Dofus—including access to other cities, participating in factional Player vs. Player battles and being able to raise profession levels above 30—requires a monthly fee, with discounts given for longer term subscriptions.

Saturday, January 9, 2021

Yakusoku no Neverland’s Live-Action Film

THE PROMISED NEVERLAND
Live-Action Movie
The official website for the live-action film of Shirai Kaiu and Demizu Posuka‘s Yakusoku no Neverland manga began streaming a new trailer for the film on Oct 12, 2020. The trailer reveals and previews the film’s theme song “Tadashiku Narenai” (It Can’t Be Right) by rock band Zutto Mayonaka de Iinoni. (Zutomayo). The site also unveiled a new poster visual for the film.

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.

An anime adaptation premiered in January 2019. A second season of the anime was scheduled to premiere in October, but is delayed to January 2021 due to the effect of the new coronavirus disease (COVID-19) on the production.

Friday, January 8, 2021

Here are the Best Anime of 2020 - Part 2

Best Anime of 2020 - Part 2
What's that? You didn't see your favorite anime in our previous list? We have more in Part 2 of the Best Anime of 2020! 

Thursday, January 7, 2021

Here are the Best Anime of 2020 - Part 1

BEST ANIME OF 2020 - Part 1
They're the best that 2020 had to offer! Join us as we count down the best anime to come out this year, including the likes of "Dorohedoro", "Fire Force Season Two", "Haikyuu To The Top", and more!
Watch the Video

Wednesday, January 6, 2021

Voice Cast of "Avatar: The Last Airbender" are Back

The Voice Cast of "Avatar: The Last Airbender"
is Reuniting and Your Biggest Faves are Back
[Source: Yahoo!] It's time to head back to the world of Avatar: The Last Airbender and relive some of our favorite moments from the series thanks to this huge news from the show's voice cast.

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

Come To School With Us

ATARASHII GAKKO!
Seishun Academy 101: Come To School With Us
Japanese school etiquette with ATARASHII GAKKO! The Seishun Academy culture series.
Atarashii Gakkou no Leaders (新しい学校のリーダーズ) is a dance and vocal performance group formed in 2015. They will make their international debut as part of the label 88rising in January 2021, under the name ATARASHII GAKKO!.

Monday, January 4, 2021

Josee to Tora to Sakana-tachi (2021)

Josee the Tiger and the Fish
A youth romantic drama with themes of growing up, the story focuses on college student Tsuneo and dreamer Josee, who lives her life stuck in a wheelchair. Josee—named after the heroine in Françoise Sagan's Wonderful Clouds—spends most of her days reading and painting until by chance she encounters Tsuneo, and decides it's time to face the real world.

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.
At university, Tsuneo meets Kanae, a fellow student studying social care. Tsuneo asks her for advice on how to help Josee and her grandmother apply for welfare and soon after the two start dating.

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 year later, Tsuneo and Josee are happily living together. Tsuneo decides to take Josee home to attend a memorial service so his parents can meet her, borrowing a car from Josee's childhood friend Koji. They visit an aquarium along the way, but are disappointed to find it closed. After stopping at a rest area, Tsuneo changes his mind about the memorial and calls his younger brother to tell him he cannot make it home due to work, although his brother sees through his excuse and accuses him of chickening out. Tsuneo and Josee drive to a beach where Josee sees the ocean for the first time. They later spend the night at a love hotel, where Josee tells Tsuneo about how lonely her life had been before she met him.

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

Evangelion: 3.0+1.0 Thrice Upon a Time (2021)

EVANGELION: 3.0+1.0 THRICE UPON A TIME
Hideaki Anno's "EVANGELION: 3.0+1.0 THRICE UPON A TIME" Rebuild Movie has released a new PV featuring the new theme song "One Last Kiss" performed Japanese singer-songwriter "Hikaru Utada". The finale of the Rebuild of Evangelion movies "Evangelion: 3.0 + 1.0 Thrice Upon A Time" will be animated by Studio Khara. The movie is scheduled to be released in Japanese theaters nationwide on January 23, 2021!

Saturday, January 2, 2021

'Alice in Borderland' on Netflix

'Alice in Borderland' on NETFLIX

[Source: Yahoo] Dystopia became our reality in 2020, and it feels nothing like so many movies and TV shows predicted. Zombies haven't overrun our cities. Roving marauders have been in short supply, relatively speaking. An airborne plague is the source of our woes, but the atmosphere is otherwise breathable. Mostly.

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:

"Battle royale games are the stories kids tell themselves about this culture of cutthroat competition. Just like the real world, in battle royale games only the one percent win. But these games are a fantasy in which this unequal outcome is produced transparently and equitably, albeit violently, a fairy tale about how the meritocracy should really work. Though it is tough, brutal, and difficult, it is fair; and though you have only a small chance of winning, the forces that oppress you are not unseen — they are clear and distinct. The decks are not stacked: everyone has the same health, the same armor, the same access to weapons and upgrades. You'll probably die. But you will live and die on your skills alone."

The writer goes on to explain that even this is an illusion. Games and rules are constantly expanding shifting, and there are always bigger and more powerful weapons to find and buy.

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.

This is where this show endeavors to do something beyond plying the audience with spectacles of violence. A strain of pondering the difference between survival and living hums throughout the first eight episodes that clicks with conversations lots of people are having right now: Who do we want to be when this is all over? How will society change?

"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.

Friday, January 1, 2021

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

  
A N I M A T R I X
N E T W O R K
@-}- Best Wishes to All in 2021-{-@