Compared to fifteen years ago, anime fandom in South Africa has come a long way. Back then it was a whole different ballgame. The Internet was in its infancy at the time, and downloading quasi-legal fansubs was unheard of. No, we had to rely on a handful of distributors to keep us in a steady supply, and one of the biggest was Manga Video, a company that brought us some particularly memorable anime which are now considered classics in the Western world. However, Manga Video wasn’t interested in bringing us TV series, and if we did get a series, it was usually a three to six part OAV at best. What we did get were a lot anime feature films, and anime distributor Madman has collected three films released by Manga Video which typified that early era into the Anime Classics collection.
Ghost in the Shell
This is the first Ghost in the Shell film based on the first Ghost in the Shell manga, back when the original creator, Masamune Shirow, still seemed to have some involvement in it. This stunningly-animated, politics-heavy sci-fi thriller converted many non-believers into anime fans with its jaw-dropping blend of CG and traditional animation. The action scenes are gripping and exciting to watch, but to be honest, the film gets bogged down a bit by the long political discussions and artsy sections which feature the kind of music that sounds like someone is skinning a live cat. Still, it’s an undeniable classic and an important film in anime history.
We ran a review of the Blu-ray version of this anime a while back in which we mentioned why it is one of the greatest anime films of all time, so we’ll just give you the basics here. Apart from being arguably the finest achievement in animation as far as anime goes, it’s also a great distilled adaptation of Katsuhiro Otomo’s sci-fi manga of the same name. If dystopian futures, gang wars between juvenile biker punks, and body-exploding psychic powers sound good to you, then give it a watch – you won’t regret it.
I remember how my friend and I used to shock our classmates by playing this anime in the school media centre back in high school. None of them knew about anime, much less what it could contain, and Ninja Scroll features some incredibly explicit sex scenes in addition to no-holds-barred violence. Apart from that, it’s actually a complex, thrilling tale involving ninja with supernatural powers, government spies, and a payload of gold from a secret mine. A good watch for anyone looking for a samurai action film with a decent story.