Vids I Dig 169: For the Love of Comics: ‘Akira’ Edition Comparison: Marvel/Epic Comics Vs. Kodansha 35th Anniversary Hardcovers

From For the Love of Comics’ YouTube description: A quick comparison between the new 35th Anniversary Edition of Akira and the ‘88 Epic Comics edition, focusing on: production and content differences.

Book Review: ‘King of Strong Style: 1980-2014’ by Shinsuke Nakamura & Jocelyne Allen (translator)

This popped up as a suggestion on my Kindle, which made me happy. I’ve been following Shinsuke Nakamura’s career for years.

Being a fan of puroresu a.k.a. Japanese professional wrestling, I’ve watched Nakamura in New Japan going back to his time as a rookie. He’s since become a legend and now he wrestles in the United States for the WWE, where he is underutilized, if I’m being honest. But Vince McMahon doesn’t seem to have a great track record with Japanese superstars. But I digress.

This book is presented as an interview. It’s a couple hundred pages long interview but it is still pretty interesting from start to finish, as Shinsuke Nakamura is a pretty interesting dude.

The first few chapters deal with Nakamura’s childhood and his love of professional wrestling, which was in opposition of his father’s love of baseball. But we also learn what his school life was like and how he was pretty athletic between playing basketball and excelling at amateur wrestling.

After that, Nakamura delves into his professional wrestling career in the years that he worked for New Japan Pro-Wrestling.

This is where the book really brings the meat and potatoes. Nakamura is pretty respectful of the other professionals around him but he still provides great stories and insight into one of the coolest wrestling promotions on the planet.

For those who like reading wrestling biographies, this one is pretty good and it is very different, as there aren’t a lot of biographies on Japanese puroresu stars in the United States.

Rating: 7.25/10
Pairs well with: other recent biographies by professional wrestlers and mixed martial artists.

Film Review: Take Aim at the Police Van (1960)

Release Date: January 27th, 1960 (Japan)
Directed by: Seijun Suzuki
Written by: Shinichi Sekizawa, Kazuo Shimada
Music by: Koichi Kawabe
Cast: Michitaro Mizushima, Mari Shiraki, Misako Watanabe, Shinsuke Ashida

Nikkatsu, 79 Minutes

Review:

Take Aim at the Police Van is a pretty early film in Seijun Suzuki’s long and storied career. In fact, it is the oldest of his pictures that I’ve seen.

Like many of his other films, it borrows heavily from the classic film-noir style in its look and narrative.

I wouldn’t say that this is as stylized as his films from a few years later, 1966’s Tokyo Drifter and 1967’s Branded to Kill, but it definitely has a certain panache to it that is very much Suzuki.

The story starts with a sniper killing two men on a police bus transport. One of the cops on board, a friend of one of the criminals who was set to be released, takes it upon himself to figure out why the bus was attacked and why these men were murdered.

Suzuki with a script by Shinichi Sekizawa, a guy who wrote a lot of kaiju movies for Toho, tells this tale very visually in a style similar to the two decades of American crime films before this. He uses a lot of high contrast shots and the movie, overall, is mostly pretty dark with a big emphasis on shadows.

This is pretty straightforward for Suzuki. He gets in, tells the story and leaves his imprint behind fairly strongly.

For an early foreign neo-noir, this has the right look, the right tone and it perfectly emulates the pictures that visually inspired it.

Now Suzuki would go on to make some real arthouse neo-noir gems with his style turned up to eleven but it’s kind of nice seeing this, a movie that exists before he started taking a lot more creative liberties with his work.

Rating: 7.25/10
Pairs well with: other Seijun Suzuki neo-noir and Yakuza pictures.

Film Review: Wicked City (1987)

Also known as: Monster City (Sweden), Supernatural Beast City (Germany)
Release Date: April 19th, 1987 (Japan)
Directed by: Yoshiaki Kawajiri
Written by: Norio Osada
Based on: Wicked City: Black Guard by Hideyuki Kikuchi
Music by: Osamu Shoji

Video Art, Madhouse, Joy Pack Film, 82 Minutes

Review:

“[chuckles, then unzips Taki’s fly] He’s a healthy one. Let me see if I can wake him… [gives him a blowjob]” – Kanako

I was a big fan of Yoshiaki Kawajiri’s work well before I realized who he was. I loved this film, as well as Demon City Shinjuku and the utterly superb Ninja Scroll, way before I learned that the same guy directed them.

This one always stuck out in my mind as the most twisted and disturbing of his films, even though they all deal with similar subject matter. Wicked City was just supremely messed up, especially for a young teen discovering this late at night on a VHS tape borrowed from a friend at school.

I love the art style, the visual and narrative tone and how this feels like a slow burn from start to finish.

That being said, this feels like it has a slow pace but a lot happens and it’s certainly not boring. In fact, it helps to build suspense as this strange, wicked world slowly reveals itself to the viewer over the course of the film.

All the action sequences in this are pretty damn cool and it’s one of the most creative animes of its time in how it uses horror and monsters. In fact, the otherworldly monsters feel like they were ripped from John Carpenter’s The Thing but they still have their own uniqueness.

My only real complaint about Wicked City isn’t about the film itself, it’s about the fact that this just exists as one entry into what I feel should’ve been developed into a larger universe. I’ve wanted more of these since I first saw this movie and I felt like it left a door wide open.

Wicked City is one of the top anime horror films of all-time and deservedly so. It’s still effective, has stood the test of time and it features incredible art, creativity and great monsters.

Rating: 7.75/10
Pairs well with: Yoshiaki Kawajiri’s other anime features: Demon City Shinjuku, Ninja Scroll and Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust.