Mamoru Oshii directs this landmark cyberpunk anime from 1995

The original ‘Ghost in the Shell’ and its anime universe on Hulu

Ghost in the Shell (Japan, 1995) (Anchor Bay, Blu-ray Steelbook) – Mamoru Oshii’s cyberpunk thriller was the first Japanese anime created for the international market and it became the biggest animated import in the US in years. Based on the manga by Masamune Shirow and recalling Blade Runner and the earlier anime hit Akira, Oshii’s […]

Jo Shishido stars in the Japanese gangster film from Yasuharu Hasebe

‘Massacre Gun’ – Japanese Gangster action on Amazon Prime

Massacre Gun (Japan, 1967) – Yasuharu Hasebe, a disciple of Nikkatsu’s maverick filmmaker Suzuki Seijun, made his directorial debut with Black Tight Killers (1966), a crazy, campy spy adventure fun shot in bright, pop-art color. His follow-up feature remains in the action genre but takes a turn into the dark alleys of gangster noir with […]

Meiko Kaji stars in the Japanese women-in-prison series

‘Female Prisoner Scorpion’ Saga on Amazon Prime

The women in prison genre has never been so much fun as the Female Prisoner Scorpion series from Japan. Gonzo doesn’t begin to describe this mad mix of outrageous exploitation, flamboyant art movie, and energetic comic-book craziness. Meiko Kaji gives a near silent performance as Nami Matsushima, aka Scorpion, a woman framed for a crime […]

The animated feature 'When Marnie Was There' from Japan's Studio Ghibli

‘When Marnie Was There’ on DVD and Blu-ray

I hate to think that When Marnie Was There may be the last film to come out of Japan’s Studio Ghibli, the great animation studio created by filmmaker Hayao Miyazaki (Princess Mononoke, Spirited Away). Miyazaki didn’t direct Marnie—Studio Ghibli animator-turned director Hiromasa Yonebayashi helms this lovely tale—but the studio’s dedication to the art of hand […]