Karavansara

East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai


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Lunch break with the ninja

Back in the early ’90s, I was part of a growing number of fans of Japanese animation in my country. In Italy we had been hit by a wave of anime since the second half of the ’70s, and then a decade later the floodgates opened with OAVs and movies. fanzines were printed, clubs were formed.
I said “in the early ’90s”, but it was actually in 1993 that I dropped out of that community, as I was starting to see things I did not like. What had been a passion, born of an interest for wild and wonderful stories and great art, was turning into a playing field for little Hitlers, people that wanted to dictate what people should or should not see – “why are you reading Marvel comics? You are supposed to be an Otaku!” – and a few individuals were starting to make an awful lot of money fleecing the fans.

I know I turned and walked away in 1993, because that was the year Ninja Scroll hit the screens.
And today at lunch break I watched it again for the first time in 28 years.

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Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust

Not all fun shows are on Amazon Prime, and in fact last night I spent two hours of fun revisiting Yoshiyaki Kawajiri’s Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust, an animated feature from 2000, based on the long-running series of Vampire Hunter D novels by Kikuchi Hideyuki.
The movie can be found on Youtube in high-quality, and is well worth taking a look at if you like dark fantasy, horror, and Dying Earth stories.

Because here’s the fun thing – in building his narrative universe, Kikuchi Hideyuki threw in everything: classical vampires and vampire lore, post-apocalyptic fiction, Dying Earth-style science fiction, melodrama and high-octane action (that the trailer above uses to the hilt), Spaghetti Western. The end result is an original product, in which every tried-and-tested element gets twisted and changed, surprising us every step of the way.

The Kawajiri movie captures the setting, also thanks to the character design based on Yoshitaka Amano’s original illustrations for the novel.
The film is beautiful, the world is intriguing, the story not as silly as it might seem.

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