|"Oshii" is a Japanese word meaning "good" or "tasty" (usually in reference to food), but, in Mamoru Oshii's case, "Oshii" should mean excellent. Directorially bursting onto the scene with the obtuse film Angel's Egg (not officially imported into the US, but available in fan-subbing circles), Mamoru Oshii immediately displayed a talent for creating a film that looked like nothing else that had come before. His meteoric rise to anime directorial stardom arguably peaked with Ghost in the Shell, a 1995 film that looks cutting-edge to this day. Moreover, With his Patlabor films, he broke the mold by creating complex social-economic detective stories in a fully realized universe that had little or nothing to do with the Giant Robots that were originally used to sell the series. |
Oshii's deft style can be seen in the reality-altering Beautiful Dreamer, the most popular of the Usrusei Yatsura films and he also created one of the very first OVAs ever, the often overlooked masterpiece Dallos. Oshii's ability to weave a complex plot along with mind-numbingly gorgeous visuals and non-standard camera angles (he's the first director we can think of to use a "fisheye lens" style in anime), marks Oshii as one of the most progressive artists in all of anime.
Stray Dog of Anime:
The Films of Mamoru Oshii
Anime Book Review
Five minutes into "Beautiful Dreamer", you *know* you're watching an Oshii film. From Patlabor to Ghost in the Shell, his unique vision and directoral talent have redefined anime on every level.
This book chronicals Oshii's evolution as a director, paying special attention to his personal style and symbolism, resulting in a unique guide that will appeal to anime fans and cineastes of all kinds. If you're a fan of his work in any way, this is more than an interesting read.
Reviewed by Brian Cirulnick, March 2005
Ghost in the Shell
Anime DVD Review
Don't worry about the plot, just look at this film. Every dollar spent is on the screen. Even six years after it's release, Ghost in the Shell remains the best-looking anime film ever made. Some of the sequences are just so jaw-droppingly amazing you won't believe that the majority of the film is hand drawn animation. Incredibly choreographed actions sequences, fantastic music (the eerie, haunting title track will stay with you forever), and the dead-on film direction of Mamaru Oshii make this one of the greatest anime films of all time. To say this is a "must have" is an understatement. It's one of the ultimate cyberpunk films, and it's visuals were definitely an inspiration to the Wachowski brothers when they created the blockbuster "The Matrix" — just the opening sequence alone is a dead giveaway of that fact.
This is one of those movies that requires multiple viewings to take it all in. There's so much on screen that your first two viewings will probably leave you not even caring about the story. Then, on your third of fourth viewing, you'll start to understand the complex plot, and understand what a "ghost" is — and why it's so critical to the action at hand. For the uber-geek, this film is filled with cool-looking high-tech gadgets including some cleverly designed big guns, a six-legged tank, camouflage like "The Predator", and just some amazing art-direction that just won't quit making your eyes fall out of your head. Ghost in the Shell presents a dark and realistic view of the future, where mankind as we know it will soon be replaced by his own creations.
Reviewed by Brian Cirulnick, April 2002
Patlabor Movie 1
Anime DVD Review
Mamoru Oshii's (Ghost in the Shell, Beautiful Dreamer) landmark series spawned 2 movies - darker and more politically complex than you'd expect. Keep your brain turned on for these films, you need to hear every word of dialog to understand what's happening, but that's what makes the Patlabor films so damn enjoyable - they are true social-economic dramas with giant robots as the backdrop of a story about how good technology can be perverted by evil men.
These films carry a powerful message and you should listen. And no expense was spared to make the film(s) gorgeous, carrying the Oshii trademark style of kick-ass anime that is avante-garde film-making on every level, while also being a good detective storyas well. Patlabor, in every incarnation, carries the essential elements that make anime the great genre it is - scifi plot, intelligent script, wonderful characters, and action worthy of a Hollywood blockbuster at a fraction of the price.
Reviewed by Brian Cirulnick, April 2003
The Original Series Collection
Anime DVD Review
Mamoru Oshii's quirky series is a collection of weirdness, but, as the movies did as well, quickly mutates into an intelligent social-political drama worthy of Tom Clancy as the police clash with the military, undercover operations are questioned, and the robot fights become secondary to the complex dialogue, intrigue, and interactions between the characters.
In all, a classic series that deserves and honored spot on your shelf, if for no other reason than Oshii's pop-star rise to directorial genius during his tenure. If you enjoy anime with a brain behind it, this is the series to own.
Reviewed by Brian Cirulnick, September 2005
Jin-Roh The Wolf Brigade -
Anime DVD Review
Written by Mamoru Oshii (the director of the cult favorite Ghost in the Shell) and directed by Hiroyuki Okiura (a key animator on Akira), Jin-Roh: The Wolf Brigade offers a violent but compelling vision in animation. The story is set in a fictionalized version of the recent past, when a repressive Japanese government is battling the Sect, a violent revolutionary organization that uses adolescent girls they call "Red Riding Hoods" as couriers.
During a raid, Capitol Police Constable Kazuki Fuse (pronounced "foo-seh," voice by Michael Dobson) balks at killing Nanami Agawa (Maggie Blue O'Hare), one of the Red Riding Hoods. She commits suicide with a powerful bomb. While Fuse undergoes retraining, he meets Nanami's older sister, Kei (Moneca Stori), and initiates an odd romance. Soon both characters are caught in a web of plots and counterplots that center on the possibility that Fuse may be a "wolf," a member of a secret cabal within the Capitol Police.
Jin-Roh is drawn in a comic book style that recalls the work of the popular graphic novelist and film designer Jean "Moebius" Giraud; Okiura's skillful cutting and striking imagery transcend the limited animation. Although anime continues to grow in popularity in America, it's rare for a Japanese feature to receive even a limited theatrical release, as this one did: a dark, brooding film of exceptional power, Jin-Roh deserves to be seen by a large audience.
Reviewed by Brian Cirulnick, March 2002
Urusei Yatsura Movie 2:
Anime DVD Review
Those of you not already familiar with the characters and situations created by Rumiko Takahashi may find this movie a bit strange. Those of you, however, who know anything at all about Lum and Ataru will find this to be one of the most thought-provoking, mind-twisting and all around coolest of the half-dozen or so Urusei Yatsura movies.
Directed by none other than Mamoru Oshii (Ghost in the Shell, Angel's Egg, Patlabor), he brings his particular insight to the characters, along with his now patented formula for giving the viewer a trip through a nightmare unlike any other you'll every experience. With his love of using film-technique to play with time, space, reality and perception, Oshii weaves a tapesty that ultimately traps you like a spider's web. In 1984, when the film first came out, it was a true blast - after the first viewing we were so disoriented we could no longer determine what was real. It's like taking drugs, but much safer. And the ringing of that high-school bell is now somehow... ominous.
Reviewed by Brian Cirulnick, November 2002