April Story (1998)

 

aprilstory

Nireno Uzuki travels from Hokkaido to Tokyo to begin university. A lonely, confusing time for the young girl as she moves into her apartment, makes new friends, and learns to live by herself. Towards the end of the film we see her reason for travelling to a university so far from home. A boy who she is in love with is also attending that university.

The film is short and largely without major incidence. The director uses a lot of handheld shots and the acting is naturalistic, often seeming more like a documentary than a film. The score is similarly understated soft piano music, but the whole is a pleasant experience. It captures the feeling of being alone in a new place. Each of the scenes has something to say about the experrience of living alone, fears, dangers, melancholy, but also the joy.

A film more about feeling than action. Not a traditional love story, in fact we only find out about her romantic interest late in the film, but definitely worth a watch.

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Cyber City Oedo 808

Cyber City Oedo 808

Three violent criminals serving out multiple life sentences on an orbital penitentiary spaceship are given a final chance for redemption: help the police track down criminals on earth in exchange for shortened prison terms. The show pulls you in immediately with this concept. You are almost forced to root for these bad guys, as they in turn work to outrun more bad guys. They are equipped with collars that will explode if they do not complete their mission within an allocated time period. The idea is simple, but the execution is brilliant, with a fun soundtrack, lots of sci-fi elements such as cities run by machines, the evolution of technology, as well as some horror elements with references to vampires and lashings of blood and gore on top.

The main characters are likeably rude and violent, contrary to the typical image of a hero. Most of the action is set in Oedo, a futuristic Tokyo, which has been entirely overtaken by computers, everything is run by machines and there is a dark, claustrophobic atmosphere of metal walls and towering structures.

There are only three episodes of this show, with each episode following one of the main character on a mission. Worth watching, with some great animation, music, and fast paced action scenes.