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Matt Schley
For Matt Schley's latest contributions to The Japan Times, see below:
Japan Times
CULTURE / Film
May 29, 2019
'Lupin the IIIrd: Fujiko Mine's Lie': A classic anime franchise goes back to basics
Last month, Japan lost a cultural giant. April 11 saw the passing of Kazuhiko Kato — better known by the pen name Monkey Punch — the creator of "Lupin the Third." The manga, about a playboy thief descended from fictional French gentleman thief Arsene Lupin, debuted in 1967 and has been a pop-culture staple since.
Japan Times
CULTURE / Film
May 15, 2019
'Promare': A burning need for rage control
Ever been so angry you felt like you were going to explode? In "Promare," the new anime film from studios Trigger and Xflag, that's no metaphor. The story goes that when the members of a certain segment of the population get mad enough, flames burst from their bodies, leading to fiery death and destruction.
Japan Times
CULTURE
May 8, 2019
Younger animators still struggling amid anime boom
By all outward appearances, Japan's animation industry is thriving. A recent report by The Association for Japanese Animations indicates the industry's worth as a whole topped over ¥2 trillion in 2017 — a new record. International streaming services like Netflix and Crunchyroll have begun producing their own anime. Director Mamoru Hosoda's "Mirai" was nominated for best animated feature film at this year's Academy Awards.
Japan Times
CULTURE / Film
Apr 24, 2019
'The Wonderland': Surface-level charm, but no true wonder
"The Wonderland," the new film from director Keiichi Hara ("Miss Hokusai"), certainly has the building blocks of something wondrous: a skilled director, top production values, and a story by beloved children's author Sachiko Kashiwaba.
Japan Times
CULTURE / Film / Heisei Icons,Heisei Icons
Apr 19, 2019
Hayao Miyazaki: Universally acclaimed weaver of unforgettable anime worlds
Animators and live-action filmmakers around the world acknowledge his influence. His talents have even been described by fans as u201cgodlike.u201d
Japan Times
CULTURE / Film
Mar 20, 2019
'Shinjuku Tiger': A story of one man and his mask
Spend enough time on the streets of Shinjuku, and you'll eventually spot a flamboyantly dressed figure in a tiger mask carrying fake flowers, stuffed animals and a boombox. This is Shinjuku Tiger, the subject of a documentary of the same name out this week.
Japan Times
CULTURE / Film / Wide Angle
Feb 21, 2019
Fans: Don't worry about a live-action 'Your Name.' remake; 'Alita' shows it can be done
It was the groan heard 'round the internet. Back in September 2017, J.J. Abrams' Bad Robot Productions announced it had picked up the live-action rights to 2016 anime megahit "Your Name." Reaction from anime fans online was not exactly positive.
Japan Times
CULTURE / Film
Feb 6, 2019
'City Hunter The Movie: Shinjuku Private Eyes': Dated gags in modern-day Tokyo
It's back. "City Hunter," the Tsukasa Hojo-penned manga about a crime-solving "sweeper" for hire named Ryo Saeba (Akira Kamiya) was pretty much an anime institution in the 1980s, adapted into a string of anime series and films starting in 1987. It even spawned a live-action version in Hong Kong starring Jackie Chan.
Japan Times
CULTURE / Film
Jan 30, 2019
'School-Live!': Zombie flick lands dead on arrival
A manga series whose time in the public consciousness peaked years ago? Check. A cast of idol singers whose acting chops are questionable at best? Check. A script in dire need of a rewrite? Check. You guessed it: It's time for another manga-to-live-action adaptation.
Japan Times
CULTURE / TV & Streaming / Wide Angle
Jan 24, 2019
Anime Feminist: Tackling anime's gender bias
Over the past few years, there has been more mainstream recognition of the idea that discourse is better served when it is expanded outside the sole realm of heterosexual, white, cisgender men. That's true of major forums, and no less true when it comes to niche media, including the world of anime fandom.
Japan Times
CULTURE / Film
Jan 23, 2019
'The Relative Worlds': A rough ride across two universes
The concept of parallel universes is a fascinating one. What if there was another you out there, making the big bucks, fighting in a war or writing bad poetry? And what would happen if you and your alternate self were ever to meet up?
Japan Times
CULTURE / Film / Wide Angle
Jan 10, 2019
As the heavyweights return, will 2019 be a smash year for anime?
When looking forward to the coming year in anime, it may be helpful to jump in the time machine and hop back to 2016. That's the year Japan was hit with a flood of smash original anime films, including the sleeper hit "In This Corner of the World" and Makoto Shinkai's "Your Name." By the time 2016 was over, the latter had become the highest-grossing Japanese film of all time worldwide.
Japan Times
CULTURE / TV & Streaming
Dec 13, 2018
Anime in 2018 saw serious cash but no surprise hits
What do a 24-year-old child detective, a group of seriously laid-back campers and anthropomorphic blood cells have in common? 2018, that's what.
Japan Times
CULTURE / Film / Wide Angle
Sep 20, 2018
Kyoto gears up for a film festival — rain or shine
It may be a spring chicken compared to its film festival siblings in Tokyo, Yamagata and elsewhere, but the Kyoto International Film and Art Festival has reached an important milestone: its fifth anniversary.
Japan Times
CULTURE / Film
Sep 19, 2018
'In Pursuit of Silence': A documentary looks at what it'll take to finally get some peace and quiet
The 1964 tune "The Sound of Silence" by Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel is a bona fide classic, but it never really identifies just what this "sound of silence" is. That task instead falls to "In Pursuit of Silence," the documentary about this surprisingly hard-to-pin-down aural quality and why it's worth pursuing.
Japan Times
CULTURE / Film
Sep 5, 2018
'I Want to Eat Your Pancreas': An eye-catching title doesn't make up for over-the-top sentimentality
The most interesting thing about "I Want to Eat Your Pancreas" is its title.
Japan Times
CULTURE / Film
Aug 22, 2018
'Ponoc Short Films Theatre, Vol. 1: Modest Heroes': An anime studio's modest break with norms
"Modest Heroes" studio Ponoc was founded by producer Yoshiaki Nishimura, formerly of Ghibli, just as that legendary anime studio decided to cool its jets back in 2014. Ponoc's debut feature, last year's "Mary and the Witch's Flower," established it as a kind of Ghibli 2, a place where Ghibli alums could continue to create family-friendly fantasy films.
Japan Times
CULTURE / Film
Aug 15, 2018
'Penguin Highway': What goes up must come down ... in penguin form
There's something about the playful, magical realist novels of Tomihiko Morimi that seems to lend itself to animated adaptations. Those adaptations include TV series like "The Tatami Galaxy" ("Yojohan Shinwa Taikei") and "The Eccentric Family" ("Uchoten Kazoku"), plus last year's film "The Night is Short, Walk on Girl" ("Yoru wa Mijikashi Arukeyo Otome"). This time around, it's the author's 2010 "Penguin Highway" that's been given the anime treatment.
Japan Times
CULTURE / Film
Aug 1, 2018
'Flavors of Youth': A China-focused anthology falls flat
So-called anthology films, made up of multiple shorts based around the same theme, are a staple of the anime industry and are generally created to a) give young directors a chance, b) show off what studios are capable of, or c) keep a director or studio in the public consciousness between full-length features.
Japan Times
CULTURE / Film
Jul 25, 2018
'Mirai': Mamoru Hosoda's latest anime is for the young at heart
Though anime director Mamoru Hosoda rarely diverges from his pet theme of family, the scale of his movies rises and falls like the tide. "The Girl Who Leapt Through Time" (2006) was an intimate tale of high school life, "Summer Wars" (2009) dealt with the fate of the entire planet, "Wolf Children" (2012) centered around a family living in the Japanese countryside, and "The Boy and the Beast" (2015) featured an epic battle on the streets of Shibuya.

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