What Else Did They Write? (Sadayuki Murai)

Not sure exactly how this series of posts will work, maybe it’ll evolve over time into a different structure or focus?

But for now, I’m planning to just highlight a few shows or episodes I’ve enjoyed + include extra titles that I didn’t realise the writer was involved with.

Further to the above, I’ll note right away that my research is rarely going to be exhaustive 😀


And further further related to the above, while any given writer might be credited with ‘series composition’, ‘screenplay’ or ‘script’, the terms aren’t always interchangeable. That also means that I can’t always directly credit the writer I’ve chosen with a tone, character, sequence or line of dialogue with 100% accuracy.

Nevertheless, here we go with Sadayuki Murai!

Perfect Blue comes to mind first.

I think the main idea for this series of posts came from noticing that Sadayuki Murai adapted Perfect Blue for the big screen and also worked on another Kon film, the amazing Millennium Actress.

When I later realised that he was also credited with one of the standout Cowboy Bebop episodes: ‘Pierrot le Fou’ I was surprised (in a good way). And if you’ve seen either the Bebop episode or Perfect Blue I think tonal similarities are clear.

There’s a relentless kind of menace to both and perhaps something similar can keen seen in Boogiepop Phantom, which credits Murai with series composition. (There’s also Bebop’s ‘Gateway Shuffle’ too, which always struck me as another comparatively dark episode).

You can also see Murai’s work in screenplays for Bubblegum Crisis: Tokyo 2040, Devil Lady and Knights of Sidonia along with all of Kino’s Journey and the script for Steamboy too – among plenty of others.

Ideally, I’d like to include a quote or two or mention a few moments in the various scripts to highlight things I’ve enjoyed.

I think I ought to do more than that actually, but while I’m still figuring out how I want these posts to work, I’ll just note three things today:

• Spike’s sleight of hand in ‘Gateway Shufflealways pleases me
In Millenium Actress while Chiyoko takes medicine she says “never listen to doctors, they always think that old people are sick”
I’ve said this before but the inter-generational conflict in Steamboy is one of the real highlights for me, I always thought it was written really well

And done!

For the next one of these posts I’m planning on writing about Chiaki J. Konaka.

Update Quest 2020 (3)

As I mentioned with the first and also second of these posts, I’m heading back to old reviews and expanding/updating/adding things to them – mostly (but not exclusively) pictures as it turns out.

And so, here are the contestants for update post #3:

Steamboy
Blood Blockade Battlefront
The Napping Princess
Fractale
Armitage III

Steamboy (Suchīmubōi)

Katsuhiro Otomo’s next film after the monster that was Akira took ten years to produce and the staggering care and attention to detail clear in the Victorian-era settings and its marvellous machines is undeniable (along with a lot of the action sequences) but the film is not so beloved as Akira.

Steamboy (Suchīmubōi)
2004

Obviously, different genres, different times – but I also think that there’s something missing from the storytelling in Steamboy and I wasn’t able to put my finger on it until all these years later.

In a way, the film really whips main character Ray from one calamity to another at a brisk pace.

It might sound like I’m claiming that there’s no time to catch your breath at all, and that’s not my intent, but what I think I wanted as a viewer was more time for reflection from Ray. On both his situation, and in terms of his confusion in dealing with the people surrounding him.

I found myself seeking that time for character development because Steamboy explores inter-generational conflict (in an action film, which feels somewhat rare) – and I was thrilled to see that.

All the way through, poor Ray is torn between trusting his grandfather and his father – both mechanical geniuses, and both seeming to have noble goals. Of course, there the audience faces similar doubts, but for such an important conflict, I wanted more of it on the screen.

Where I wanted more from that aspect, the film gave me a lot to enjoy when it came to the visuals and the animation itself. Even with a reasonably muted palette, the detail on the setting and machines was beautiful, and the large scale of the inventions are just as striking.

Steamboy really does feel like a triumph, visually and I don’t think I can do it justice in the review of course, since the stills can only tell so much.

But if you like classic steampunk (or have always wondered about Katsuhiro’s other major works) and haven’t seen this one yet, I think it’s worth finding for sure.

4 Stars