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Tales from the Dark Side

The Nirasawa Filmography: Archangel Thunderbird 

The Nirasawa Filmography: Archangel Thunderbird 

by Renzo Adler January 15, 2021

Yasushi Nirasawa’s (1963 - 2016) career spanned garage kits, video games, film, and comics. In the realm of TV he was particularly prolific in his work for the Kamen Rider series in Japan. In the English speaking world however, the first time viewers got to see his unique character designs on TV came courtesy of Sci-Fi Channel UK.
Kaiju Memories: Looking Back at the Gamera DNA of Tokusatsu Exhibition

Kaiju Memories: Looking Back at the Gamera DNA of Tokusatsu Exhibition

by Renzo Adler December 21, 2020

On the southernmost tip of Tokyo, a stone’s throw from Haneda airport and about an hour from Ikebukuro’s Otome Road is the quiet neighborhood of Kamata. It’s glitzy or glamorous nor is it a historical destination or the site of some religious ceremony, one of its bigger claims to fame is a scene in 2016's Shin Godzilla when Godzilla, in his nascent larval-like form, makes landfall. Yet for a brief period, it was laid siege by some of the greatest monsters in cinema history.
Remembering Richard Corben

Remembering Richard Corben

by Renzo Adler December 15, 2020

On December 2, 2020, Richard Corben passed away at the age of 80, leaving a visceral legacy across comics and illustrations spanning fantasy, science fiction, and horror. My own first time witnessing (just “seeing” art feels too passive) Corben’s art  was in Banner, written by Brian Azzarello for Marvel in 2001. I was taken by the sheer ferocity of Corben’s Hulk contrasted by the dread and gripping anxiety of his Bruce Banner. I didn’t have the mental vocabulary for it, but I realized later on how it deftly combined grace and grotesquery, craft and carnage.
Maids: Katie Skelly's American Grand Guignol

Maids: Katie Skelly's American Grand Guignol

by Renzo Adler November 18, 2020

Since 2012 Katie Skelly has been drawing a world of pastel colored carnage. Not interested in anything that would typically be considered grounded, Skelly’s worlds are sensational, sensual, and sanguine. Nurse Nurse, released in 2012, played with elements of science fiction evocative of Jean-Claude Forest as a space faring nurse encountered strange new worlds and dismembered ex-boyfriends.  Operation Margarine from 2014 exists in a Russ Meyer-esque world of stylized biker gang violence as two women go on the run in the desert. My Pretty Vampire from 2018 is a parade of wonton bloodlust and secret societies evoking the sleaze cinema of Jess Franco.  Skelly’s erotic anthology The Agency, also published in 2018, is sort of a sampler platter of all of the above but with the ribald sexual excess of Guido Crepax or Milo Manara. In her latest comic, Maids, Skelly enters into a world of class struggle, teenage rebellion, and murder.

"Ju-On: Origins": A Cycle of Terror

"Ju-On: Origins": A Cycle of Terror

by Renzo Adler October 29, 2020

This Halloween season it’s pretty easy to feel dread and fear around us. Maybe you have some fears that go further back than 2020 or 2016. Perhaps you have a building on your street that’s vacant of people, but is full of uneasy dread. Or did your parents tell you about a time when they nearly had a brush with death in their own neighborhood? Do you have lingering unanswerable memories of past trauma? Ju-On: Origins, currently streaming on Netflix, suggests that ghosts are the residue of a perpetual cycle of cruelty and tragedy. 
DNA of Tokusatsu Ultraman Genealogy Safely Lands at Tokyo Dome City

DNA of Tokusatsu Ultraman Genealogy Safely Lands at Tokyo Dome City

by Renzo Adler October 07, 2020

Article and photos by David Namba

The DNA of Tokusatsu Ultraman Genealogy exhibition on Ultraman, the reigning king of Japan heroes and the history of Tsuburaya Productions safely lands with COVID-19 prevention measures at Gallery AaMo in Tokyo Dome City. From the first program in 1966 to today, no Tsuburaya hero or program is left out at this game multimedia exhibition that additionally highlights Reiwa era hitters like Ultraman Z, now running Saturday mornings on TV Tokyo and the Ultraman Tsuburaya YouTube channel.

Keizo Murase: A Brush With the Phantasmagoric

Keizo Murase: A Brush With the Phantasmagoric

by Renzo Adler October 02, 2020

 

Somewhere between science and myth, the unknowable and probing curiosity, giant monsters lingers in our minds. Colossal and crawling, Varan haunted the forests of rural Japan in the 1958 film Daikaiju Varan (aka Varan the Unbelievable). Varan, with a craggly carapace (modeled after peanut shells) adorned by semi-translucent thorns, and the countenance of a demon was crafted by one Keizo Murase. Born in 1933, Murase has had an illustrious career crafting the various giant monsters of the Showa era, including Mothra, Gamera, Godzilla, and more. 

"Sazan & Comet Girl": A Retro Adventure

"Sazan & Comet Girl": A Retro Adventure

by Renzo Adler September 15, 2020

Nostalgia is a powerful force and it can even hold sway on us with stories we’ve never seen before. YouTube is currently replete with compilations of 1980s Japanese City Pop set to clips of Urusei Yatsura and City Hunter to the delight of people that weren’t even zygotes when this stuff was out. But the easy breezy melodies combined with the intoxicating intermingling of neons and pastels captivates people and wraps them in a warm blanket of alto saxes. Sazan & Comet Girl by Yuriko Akase and published by Seven Seas Entertainment, goes for this same sort of pseudo-nostalgia, but in comic form. 


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