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Sōseki Natsume's 'Kokoro': One Classic, Three Translations

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The great masterwork of modern Japanese fiction, by one of its all-time luminaries, has been translated multiple times, each version its own testament to the complexities of translation as an art

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'The Legend Of Kamui': A Nearly Lost Ninja Scroll

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With only two volumes in English, and those out of print, Sanpei Shirato's ragged and earthy ninja epic needs as much of a reissue in full as can be had

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Tsutomu Nihei's 'Abara': A Dead-Tech Sampler

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This one-shot story from the creator of 'BLAME!' and 'Knights Of Sidonia' serves as a useful entry point to the man's carbon-black universe of Giger-goth techno-body-horror

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'The Ghost In The Shell: Global Neural Network': Four Ways Into The Shell

Four teams of writers and artists from Western comics deep-dive into the 'Ghost In The Shell'-verse, and arise with four divergent and arresting visions

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I've long felt Masamune Shirow's The Ghost In The Shell was one of those things that fared best when someone other than Shirow worked on it. When Mamoru Oshii adapted it into an animated film, or when Kenji Kamiyama translated it into an animated TV series (in my opinion, the fullest flowering of the franchise thus far), or when any number of other folks came along and did their thing with it, we saw all the more completely what Shirow seemed to only be able to hint at. The Ghost In The Shell: Global Neural Network brings a novel form of collaboration to the table: it employs four teams of artists and writers from outside Japan to present their own original stories in the Shell-verse. Some of them stick closer to Shirow's original flavor; some are more explicitly in the mold of the way others recast Shirow's work; and some depart entirely from expectations, with mixed if also fascinating results.

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'A Shameful Life': Osamu Dazai's 'No Longer Human', All Over Again

An all-new translation of Osamu Dazai's bleak masterwork brings fresh clarity and immediacy to a staple of modern Japanese literature

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A hazard of one of your favorite books not being in your native language is how much of what you fell in love with might well be a product of its translation and not the book itself. I had to confront this with Osamu Dazai's No Longer Human, beloved by me since the first time I read it in the late Nineties or so: how much of my love was with Dazai himself, and how much was with the translator, Donald Keene? It took reading more of Dazai in translation, and more of Keene's other works (translations and otherwise), and finally encountering Dazai in his original Japanese, to better suss out where all those boundaries lay. Now we have an entirely new translation of Dazai's masterwork by Mark Gibeau, entitled A Shameful Life and published by Stone Bridge Press, and through it I think I can see all the more what was Dazai's.

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'Illang: The Wolf Brigade': Defanged

Jee-woon Kim's live-action adaptation of Mamoru Oshii's 'Jin-Roh: The Wolf Brigade' is passable on its own, but doesn't come close to the primal shadow-play sorcery of the original

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The problem with Illang: The Wolf Brigade, a live-action remake of Mamoru Oshii & Hiroyuki Okura's Jin-Roh, is not that you can't or shouldn't remake anime as live action. It's that you lose as much as you gain, and what they've lost here is not something you can just throw back in. Illang is assembled with great technical competence and more than a little insight into what made the original story tick. But I still felt like director Jee-woon Kim had missed the point. The original Jin-Roh had an icy, tragic sense of remove, further given a phantasmal, shadow-play quality by its animation. The live-action version is half gritty action film and half noirish spy thriller — competent enough on its own, but missing the primal sorcery conjured up by the original.

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