Perhaps it’s not that surprising that Netflix is betting more and more on anime. It has a habit of exposing the most unexpecting audience to a kind of animation they would otherwise have never seen. The number of people who watched the extremely bingeable Death Note on accident is somewhere in the realm of astronomical.
It is, however, kind of suspect that they keep remaking existing properties, and not in the anime style but live-action. They have a Cowboy Bebop coming with John Cho, a recently announced One Piece adaptation (also from Tomorrow Studios), that just abysmal Death Note from 2017, and the decent but inscrutable Bleach from 2018. Granted, most of those are technically manga adaptations, but still: it’s hard to avoid the feeling that these properties are being aggressively whitewashed for Western audiences.
Which isn’t to say the aesthetic is what makes or breaks these stories, but it’s also impossible to ignore the slightly ethereal flavor that anime brings through just its visuals, especially as its tropes and clichés surreptitiously grab and stretch the boundaries of what we assume the story’s reality to be. Cowboy Bebop, for example, leans heavy on anime’s freedom to swing hard from pratfalls to overwrought melodrama in an instant. Take that away and you either have to find new ways to achieve the same effect to new ways to work around not having it at all.
But I’m excited all the same. Not necessarily to see the finished product (though I am) but for more people to get a chance to find a point of entry to these somehow simultaneously huge and overlooked franchises. Now let’s get to those trailers!
F9 — Official Trailer
Okay, so I embedded the livestream from their concert/trailer reveal event instead of the official trailer. (You can see that here if you really want.) I just think it’s incredibly important to see in its entirety. Raw, uncut, and absurd.
Tyrese being a dumbass. John Cena being both perfect at interviews (he’s physically incapable of not staying on brand) and the worst at interviews (he’s also physically incapable of being casual). And seeing that one guy cry during the Wiz Khalifa performance. It’s all so good. Plus you can see the crowd absolutely lose it over Han’s return.
F9 hits theatres on May 22, 2020.
Final Fantasy VII Remake — Theme Song Trailer
I’m getting major Kojima vibes from this trailer and you know what? I’m fine with it. In fact, I kind of love it. The story was always a bit out there, but the big swings are already there, so there’s little chance for the remake as a whole to go off the rails into insufferable Kojima territory. So embracing the most idiosyncratic anime tendencies is just delectable.
Also, cross-dressing Cloud is perfect. And Red XIII is perfect. Young Cloud and Tifa are perfect. Plus we get a peek at the new Soldier 3rd class character Roche who is carrying in serious Arkham Knight Azrael energy. This was a great hype trailer even if we still know basically nothing about how it will turn out.
The first episode (of some unknown number) of Final Fantasy VII Remake releases for PlayStation 4 on April 10, 2020.
Ghost in the Shell: SAC_2045 — Teaser
Now, it’s not live-action, but it is based on a manga and it’s from Netflix, so there’s that. This unabashedly CG veneer is a drastic departure from what we’ve seen before (especially with the absolutely awful live-action film), skewing closer to a mid-2010 video game cutscene than anything else. Not that that’s a bad thing; it’s quite striking.
It also has a fair bit of the flair that directors Kenji Kamiyama and Shinji Aramaki are known for from Ghost_in_the_Shell:_Stand_Alone_Complex and Appleseed, respectively. It’ll be another collaboration from the two, the most notable one being Ultraman and the upcoming Blade Runner: Black Lotus series, so it’ll be nice to see how their work together evolves.
Look for it sometime this year on Netflix.
Fantasy Island — Final Trailer
To be quite frank, it’s wild that Jeff Wadlow is still getting to direct films after True Memoirs of an International Assassin, a truly rare cinematic gem resting at a pristine, gorgeous 0% on Rotten Tomatoes. I’ve seen it, and 0% is not low enough. I guess cobbling together a mediocre Non-Stop as an executive producer gets you enough cachet to keep trucking along despite also directing Never Back Down and Kick-Ass 2.
While this trailer looks pretty decent, I can’t imagine the guy that wrote all those bombs also has found a way to adapt a completely unrelated 70s television show featuring unrepentant insanity into a compelling horror film. I appreciate the bare simplicity of “Saw but you asked for it,” though.
It hits theatres on February 14, 2010.
Dead Cells: The Bad Seed — Gameplay Trailer
It’s great that Dead Cells is getting more content. I feel like it was appropriately received but under-acknowledged. Granted, all signs indicate that I’m wrong on this (developers Motion Twin called the 2.4 million Switch sales “insane“), but any chance to bump the title in people’s minds is a good thing to me.
There’s also something just so funny (faunny?) about the wildlife segment cutting back to the eyeball thing over and over again. It’s a game and a studio that has such a clear sense of itself and its personality. I’m excited to poke through this DLC.
Dead Cells‘ The Bad Seed DLC releases on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and PC on February 11, 2020.
Apex Legends Season 4 — Assimilation Launch Trailer
I have not kept up at all with Apex Legends almost since it came out. And yes, I recognize how incongruous that is with the fact that I made it my number ten game of the year last year. But I am greatly intrigued by this robot pirate assassin (which sounds like it could have only been invented in the Internet era of Epic Meal Time), so if anyone is willing to explain to me what is going on, then I’m here.
Season 4 lands on all platforms on February 4, 2020.
The Jesus Rolls — Official Trailer
What a completely unhinged thing. Not the idea, necessarily. Putting John Turturro with Bobby Cannavale and Audrey Tautou in a bonkers cross-country crime spree is objectively good. That should have already existed if we’re being honest with ourselves.
But why does it look like a high school student learning After Effects? Is it on purpose? Is this a hobby project someone accidentally released? I realize it’s just a teaser coming in at just over 30 seconds, but maybe this one should have spent some more time baking in the oven.
The Jesus Rolls releases on February 28, 2020.
Patapon 2 Remastered — Announcement Trailer
Yes. Yes. A thousand times yes. Everyone agrees that Patapon 2 was an incredible game. Some might have even said it was one of the best games of 2009. But also everyone agrees that it was on the PlayStation Portable, at a device that roughly 18 people ever owned.
So bringing it back around on the PlayStation 4 in a remastered package is a laudable move. More people should be aware of and play through this weird, beautiful, delightful little game. Just look at those little rascals go. Don’t you want to lead the rhythm army?
Patapon 2 Remastered is out now on the PlayStation 4.
Better Call Saul — Season 5 Trailer
I truly have so little else to say about the upcoming fifth season of Better Call Saul at this point. The number of teasers they’ve put out fully outweigh the total number of episodes. And with this first full trailer, all we get is what amounts to a series of teasers stitched together.
It’s all characters in wordless, inscrutable moments that tell us nothing except that they’ve definitely shot this season of television and are absolutely not panic winging it. And that’s not a dig on the show; I am looking forward to one of the best shows on TV right now continuing to explore an immensely complex set of relationships and motivations. But just release it already, you cowards. I’m tired of covering this.
The fifth season of Better Call Saul begins on February 23, 2020, on AMC.