***½/**** Image A+ Sound A+ Extras A
screenplay by Katsuhiro Ôtomo, based on the comic book by Osamu Tezuka
directed by Rintaro
by Walter Chaw There is a sense of wonder inherent in the exploration of new mediums. A young Maxim Gorky's 1896 review of one of the first Lumiére Cinématographe shows in Russia begins, "Last night I was in the Kingdom of Shadows." As I began exploring the anime medium (not a "genre," I am assured, and I have come to concur) a scant couple of years ago, I felt similarly the interloper in a dreamscape conjured by a culture steeped in tradition, mythology, and the sort of artistic sensibility that could only evolve from the only people victimized by the most terrible weapon of mass destruction humans have devised. Anime is--perhaps predictably, then--often-post-apocalyptic (its themes exploring the existential by way of William Gibson's cyberpunk and Philip K. Dick's identity crisis) finding elements of the rapture in such rapturous fantasies as the lyrical Princess Mononoke, the viscerally charged Ninja Scroll, and the ferocious yet delicate Nausicaä of the Valley of Wind.