Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
Actors: Steven R. Bennett, Stephanie Brown, Jonathan Cook, Robert Dejesus, Peter Fernandez
Director: Eric Bresler
Genres: Documentary, Anime & Manga, Animation
Explore the world of otaku, the devoted fans of Japanese animation. Otaku Unite! is the first documentary to follow the evolution of this phenomenon from its humble beginnings to its current state as a major influence of p... more »
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A Great record and a Great movie
Daniel Lemoine | Philadelphia, PA | 02/13/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I've seen this movie a few times now, in the Philly Film Festival and at Otakon 2004, and both times it was a packed house with a great reception.
The movie is in two parts, the first is about the growth and status of the Kaiju Big Battel group, which is basically a bunch of relativly amateurish wrestlers who dress up like Rampage style monsters and oddball characters. Its interesting to see how this got started and is especially interesting for any "indie" or "DIY" ("do-it-yourself", if you didn't know) fan, but since you are probably watching this movie for the anime, this part can certainly be boring if you don't like wrestling. But the costumes are still cool.
The actual documentary is great and informative, but it depends on your prior experience with anime to determine if this is anything new to you. First things first, know that this is a documentary about anime IN AMERICA. There is nothing wrong with that, but don't be confused or misled to think that this is about the complete history of anime. It reaches back to the days of Speed Racer and Robotech, and features interviews with some of the original voice actors, localizers and "translators" (quoted due to the interview about Robotech, where one of the heads of the project relates how they made up dialogue, much to the eventual chagrin of fans).
There are some random people interviewed, from anime convention bouncers to a very eccentric anime music themed radio personality, all of whom give interesting perspectives on different anime fandom. There are also several bigger name industry people such as the famous (or infamous, depending on how you look at it) Trish Ledoux. The industry people probably have the most interesting things to say, reliving their history importing anime. However, all of the people interviewed end up leaving you wanting to know more. As anime fans probably already know, despite being a niche market in America, the world of anime and its related hobbies is vast. It touches on some of these hobbies, such as cosplay (a subject that could have its own documentary altogether), but doesn't delve too deeply - don't expect it to just be an anime-themed "Trekkies". You will also realize that this movie is a bit short, but it certainly accomplishes its goal, to document the history of anime coming to America.
On that note, while a cosplayed Naruto is right in the middle of the cover, the film doesn't really reach that far into the present. How can it? After all, new trends and new franchises are constantly introduced to America and something cutting-edge can become passe within a year. It leaves you on a good note, and is certainly a great documentary for American anime fans looking to relive their beginnings in fandom, or for younger fans interested in how the American anime market grew and became the flooded mess it is today.
You'll definately learn something new and get a good laugh from this movie. As an anime fan and a movie fan, I reccomend this to add to your collection and broaden you outlook on either anime or just people in general. As an interesting factoid, Studio Gainax almost liscensed this movie for Japanese distribution."
Highly entertaining overview of anime fans
Dean C. Galanis | 04/04/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Not certain what the negative reviewers were expecting, but I found OTAKU UNITE! to be a blast. Informative and a hell of a lot of fun, the film should be equally satisfying to both the layman and the longtime fan. Filled with the typical eccentrics (anyone who's ever been to a fan convention will smile in recognition upon seeing these folks), the film takes an amused yet not condescending view, the outcome of the Cos Play being an excellent -- and hilarious -- example.
The extras on the DVD are also great, with a goofy-but-fun piece on the film's premiere at the Philadelphia Film Festival, and a breezy but thorough audio commentary. Highly recommended."
The first anime convention documentary to be publish!
SoulCrash | Chicago, IL USA | 03/28/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I'm going to talk from two point of views, the Otaku point of view, and the Outsider point of view.
From the Otaku point of view, I got to say it gave me great laughs seeing how cons used to be back in the early days. it's interesting seeing some old school people who watches anime, and how they get their anime before anime became mainstream.... Yeah, good old memories.... It's an anime con doc that I didn't skip any scenes for any reason... I watch from start to finish, and watch it again to listen to the director's commentary.... If you're a fan of Steve Benette. You'll be like "OH MY GOD!", when you watch his segment. It's worthy to have Otaku Unite! in your Anime Collection!
From the Outsider point of view, it may look like people in a trekkie convention... But it's not! But things will get interesting to watch as the video rolls on."
Max A. Brinck | Philadelphia, PA United States | 03/31/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The directorial debut of Eric Bresler (TLA Entertainment Group employee, Drexel University graduate and purveyor of Japanese pop culture through his website) is this affectionate tribute to international fans of Japanese animation. Rated "O" for Otaku, it gives us an encyclopedic nutshell of the history of anime and the growth of its viewers. We learn about aspects of anime conventions from fans and personnel with names like Thag and Ogre. We see fans dressed in their favorite anime characters wrestling it out in the ring to the enthusiastic cheering of the teeming throngs of fans. Starting with such revered names as Astro Boy, Robotech and Speed Racer, Bresler takes us on an intimate journey: a journey which began with a small number of fans struggling to get decent VHS 10th generation copies of their favorite anime. It progresses from talks with Carl Macek, credited with bringing anime to U.S. network television, to the first conventions in the mid-eighties, to the explosion of conventions and festivals in the 21st century. The documentary is an excellent mix of talking-head interviews and exciting montages of men, women and children dressed in imaginative and professional costumes, performing dance numbers on stage and intimate skits in conference halls. Debated in the beginning of the film, the definition of "otaku" is hard to locate. Is it a badge of honor? An obsessive geek? Otaku Unite! does an admirable job of not pigeonholing fans, allowing viewers to make up their own mind as to the meaning, and all the while having fun in the process."