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No Matter Where You Go, Everyone’s Connected…Serial Experiments Lain (1998)

Made during the sci-fi anime renaissance, Serial Experiments Lain (1998) is a hodgepodge of 90’s tropes that, even 20 years later, is still relevant.  The first of Yoshitoshi ABe’s cyberpunk projects and directed by Ryūtarō Nakamura, the series revolves around Lain Iwakura, a typical middle school girl living in suburbia. Representative of most 90’s thrillers and sci-fi dystopias, Lain slowly starts to become undone as a shadow organization working for something called the “Wired”, a Matrix-esque version of the internet, that is slowly bleeding into the real world.

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Hope, Change, and Monsters: The Legacy of Digimon Adventure

I’ll be honest—when I first encountered Digimon Adventure during its original US broadcast, I had the same response as a lot of kids: “what a ripoff!” While the animation was eye-catching, it seemed like a much slower-paced story than I was used to, you had to follow it closely to know what was happening, and the monster designs weren’t always cute—sometimes they were downright scary. But I gave it a chance, because back then we didn’t have Crunchyroll or Cartoon Hangover. We didn’t have much choice—we just hunkered down in front of the TV every Saturday morning, scarfing down a bowl of sugary cereal and dutifully watched whatever cartoons happened to be on the air.

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Midnight Void: I Drink Your Blood

Hippies, man, with their crummy homemade deodorants and annoying bongos and jam bands with songs that never end (and don’t even get me started on the various hemp products). You know what happens to hippies in The Midnight Void? They get rabies. That’s right, and if you’ve never seen a hippy with rabies, well then that means you’ve never seen…

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The Better Angels of Our Nature: Haibane Renmei (2002)

Beginning life as a short-lived dōjinshi before being adapted into an anime, Haibane Renmei (2002) is a story about loss, pain, and redemption couched in Christian symbolism and a complex mythology. Set in the walled off town of Glie, the world is populated by humans who live in the town proper, the Haibane, angel-like humans with wings and a halo, and from outside the walls, the Toga, a group of mute traders who is the only group that can move in and out of the town freely. For bookworms the show is replete with references to the work of Japanese author Haruki Murakami. From the concept of a walled off city, animals as guides towards epiphany or transformation, the site of a well being an important setting, and the magical realist aesthetic all make Haibane Renmei a cousin to Murakami’s Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World or The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle.

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Freakazoid! A Lesson in Internet History

Way way back in the 1990s, Bruce Timm and Paul Dini created a cartoon about a superhero. No, not that one. In contrast to the Caped Crusader’s brooding pathos, this was to be an off-the-wall comedy. While Timm and Dini wanted a straight superhero show, Steven Spielberg—coming off the success of Warner Brothers’ Animaniacs—wanted another comedy. Thus was born Freakazoid!

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Birth of the Cool: An Appreciation for the Cinema of Jean-Pierre Melville

With the birth of the gangster genre during the early part of the twentieth century, the figure of the gangster protagonist has suffered the same fate in countless pictures, good and bad: to die an ignominious death or be locked up forever removed from society’s purview, yet even though the template for the gangster genre hasn’t changed since the time of Griffith. The genre’s adoption and re-appropriation by filmmakers from all over the world has led to several unique strains of the gangster archetype. Whereas the American gangster follows a rise-and-fall narrative, usually employing an immigrant or minority protagonist, the Japanese yakuza is torn between the contradictory values of duty and personal loyalty, while the Gallic version of the gangster archetype was a blend of American genre tropes and existentialist angst. Our French cousins injected Camus and Sartre into characters that wouldn’t be too far off from the early Warner Bros. gangster pictures of the 1930’s. And while there have been many contributors to the Gallic strain of crime pictures the most important of these is French auteur Jean-Pierre Melville. A man that not only dabbled in making gangster pictures he invented the image of the hip, cool, laconic gangster. An image appropriated by the likes of Quentin Tarantino, Michael Mann, John Woo, Wong Kar-Wai, Johnnie To, and Jim Jarmusch.

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Habit Forming, Mind Controlling, Life Absorbing: The Films of Larry Cohen on VRV!

Larry Cohen is a genre unto himself. A movie is no longer horror, comedy, action, or thriller when Larry Cohen is involved, it’s simply a Larry Cohen film. Who is Larry Cohen? Why do I insist on writing “Larry Cohen” over and over?

Larry Cohen is a writer. Larry Cohen is a producer. Larry Cohen is a director. Often, but not always, Larry Cohen is all three at once. Starting out in television in the early 1960s, he created The Invaders, Branded, and Coronet Blue (which heavily inspired The Bourne Identity), while simultaneously cranking out scripts for the top shows of the era, such as The Defenders and The Fugitive. In 1972 he made his directorial debut with Bone aka Dial Rat for Terror, a scorching racial satire about a black thief/rapist invading the home of an upper-class white family in Beverly Hills. It also contains a scene where someone slips on a banana peel.

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How Shows Like HarmonQuest Lure in Role-Playing Newbies

It feels weird to type this, but in 2018 I’m almost ashamed to say I’ve never played Dungeons & Dragons. I’d go as far as to say I’ve never played any form of tabletop role-playing game, but I ended up joining a one-night session of Dungeon World a little over a year ago. How did I get there, though? By listening to every episode of The Adventure Zone, binging HarmonQuest, and dipping my nerdy toes into similar shows like Critical Role, of course! It was just the start of a ride I never expected to take and my first introduction to a world in which I never thought I would be remotely interested.

That’s right, no matter how nerdy your interests may seem now, rest assured: There’s always room for more. The winning formula behind this irresistible pull is surprisingly simple, so go ahead and place those Amazon orders for 100pc translucent dice sets before digging in further.

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My Anime Dad Can Beat Up Your Anime Dad!

This Sunday is Fathers’ Day, and in the great tradition of the schoolyard Badass Boast, I asked a few of my friends to tell me their favorite anime dads. Anime has no shortage of fathers and father figures to draw upon, and their picks run the gamut from the classic to the modern.

But before we get to them, a few clarifications. First, I have a very expansive definition of “dad.” You don’t have to be a literal parent to be one, or a dude. Ladies is dads too. Second, this isn’t a literal contest in the vein of “who would win in a fight, Goku or Superman?” It’s more a sampling of the favorite father figures of a few of my friends. No blood drawn, just an intellectual conversation between anime lovers.

So, without further ado, I present a selection of the Best Anime Dads.

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How an ’80s Sci-Fi Movie Changed the Destiny of Anime Forever

Rainy, cloud covered grey skies, towering skyscrapers, neon lights, muted colors and a dim prognostication of our future: if this type of imagery brings to mind certain anime titles, you may be surprised to learn that many of them share a unlikely common origin. While not the only film to ever influence anime, and certainly not the only sci-fi film to do so, Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner shares an inordinate amount of importance in developing many of the anime classics we know today, and influencing many of anime’s biggest directors.

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Midnight Void – Prom Night II: Hello Mary Lou

Canada: a country best known for its free Medicare, hunky Prime Minister, maple syrup porn, and, during the ’70s and ’80s, a much-abused film industry tax incentive program that sent The Great White North spiraling into a little place we like to call… The Midnight Void.

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Dracula Cage Match!

Start unpacking the decorations and stocking up on candy—because folks, there are less than five months to Halloween.

As we approach the spook season, one’s thoughts turn naturally to the creatures of the night. The mind ruminates on Frankensteins, goblins, killer tomatoes, and so on. But on what does it linger? Only the most sinister, mysterious, and alluring of monsters: Count Dracula.

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Second Look, Second Chances: Repo! The Genetic Opera

Did you know that over a dozen films come out every year? That means that even if you saw a movie a month, you wouldn’t see them all. And it only gets worse when you consider that movies have been around for exactly fifty years, which means there’s another 600 movies to catch up on! Now that’s a lotta movies, film buffs!

With that many motion pictures, some are bound to fall through the cracks and fail to achieve the kinds of success their creators dreamed of. Today I’d like to revisit one of those movies. So come with me on a journey through time to a land I call 2008.

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Why Do Anime Characters Sweat So Much?

Anime is a visual medium, but have you ever stopped to really think about what that means? One way to think about it is that anime has the ability to use the things we see to give us information we might not get otherwise. For example, since we don’t always get to know what’s going on inside the heads of the characters we watch on screen, anime can use visual cues to help us understand the emotions they might be feeling. Some of these are obvious, like blushing, but others – like a red hash mark or the almost ubiquitous sweat drop – aren’t always so clear.

Today, we’ll be taking a look at the aforementioned sweat drop and figuring out what it could possibly mean for anime characters to be sweating all the time!

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So Your Child Has Been Possessed: The VRV Guide to Possessed Children in Film

Kids are the worst: they’re shrill, dangerously uncoordinated, easily bored, and don’t always poop in the toilet. So who has the patience to deal with one that’s been possessed? Certainly not you, that’s for sure. Thankfully we at VRV are the leading experts in the field of possessed children, and are here to guide you through — or even help you avoid — the often trying predicament that is your already horrible kid being possessed.

Okay, so legal has just informed me that I’m required to share the following:

VRV, VRVBLOG, and its parent company Ellation Inc holds no expertise or authority, nor provides any services in the fields of possession, children, or possessed children. We do, however, have several programs featuring possessed children available for you to stream with your Premium subscription.