Fantasia 2022 short film reviews: ‘Deiji Meets Girl’ and ‘Summer Ghost’ are whimsical and complex

Deiji Meets Girl

Deiji meets girl

Sixteen-year-old Maisie Higa works at the front desk of her family’s hotel, and she’s bored out of her mind. Then a familiar-looking teenage boy from Tokyo checks in, and Maisie’s summer break gets weird. She is scrappy, emotional, enthusiastic, and dramatic, and I could not get enough of her. Maisie has the perfect foil in the character of Ichiro Suzuki, who is overly nonchalant and annoyed about their whimsical predicaments. The two offer nonstop laughs and smiles as they experience their ever-evolving surroundings. I would eat this up as a feature. It has a lot of similar qualities as the Prime Video series Upload. In its current micro-series form, Deiji Meets Girl is the perfect lighthearted and creative entry for Fantasia 2022 audiences to enjoy. 

Summer Ghost

This stunning 40 minutes film about mental health comes to us in a gorgeously told mystery. When three young people meet in hopes of catching a glimpse of a local legend of a ghost girl, emotions run high as each carries the weight of sadness only known to them. With an ethereal score from Akira Kosemura and nuanced storytelling, Summer Ghost took my breath away, quite literally. It’s one of those films that run away with your attention before you have a moment to notice the runtime. With thoughtful writing from Otsuichi and a gasp-worthy ending, this one will be with me for a long time.

Both films screen as part of the Anime no Bento 2022 program


James Wan in Negotiations to Direct ‘Robotech’ for Sony


The Hollywood Reporter is reporting that current hot commodity, director James Wan, is looking to fill up his already busy schedule with another high profile film. The trade reports that Wan is in negotations to direct a live action version of the hit animated series  Robotech for Sony.

Gianni Nunnari and Mark Canton are producing the project, which is based on 1980s cartoon series from Harmony Gold USA and Japan’s Tatsunoko Productions. The series was re-edited and re-dialogued to combine three Japanese anime series (“The Super Dimension Fortress Macross,” “Super Dimension Cavalry Southern Cross” and “Genesis Climber MOSPEADA”) to give the producers enough episodes to air as a daily syndicated series.

Robotech is a sprawling sci-fi epic that takes place at a time when Earth has developed giant robots from the technology on an alien spacecraft that crashed on a South Pacific island. Mankind is forced to use the technology to fend off three successive waves of alien invasions. The first invasion concerns a battle with a race of giant warriors who seek to retrieve their flagship’s energy source, known as “protoculture,” and the planet’s survival ends up in the hands of two young pilots.

More as it becomes available

US Screenings: Expelled from Paradise

Last Saturday, December 13, American anime fans had their first chance to see Gen Urobuchi’s highly anticipated Expelled from Paradise.

Expelled 001 Banner

Urobuchi, famous for the twisting plots of Fate/Zero and Puella Magi Madoka Magica, appeared at Japan-Expo 2014 in San Jose to excite his fan base who have high expectations for his writing. The production pulled in other big names, including Director Seiji Mizushima, best known for Full Metal Alchemist and Mobile Suit Gundam 00. Rie Kugimiya (Kagura in Gintama, Happy in Fairy Tail, Alphonse in Full Metal Alchemist) plays the heroin, Angela Balzac, while her costar Shinichiro Miki (Roy Mustang in Full Metal Alchemist, Takumi in Initial D) voices her guide to post-apocalyptic earth, Dingo. They’re joined by Hiroshi Kamiya (Natsumi in Natsume’s Book of Friends, Levi in Attack on Titan), Megumi Hayashibara (Faye Valentine in Cowboy Bebop, Rei in Neon Genesis Evangelion, Lina Inverse in The Slayers), Minami Takayama (Conan in Detective Conan), and Kotono Mitsuishi (Sailor Moon in Sailor Moon), for an all-star cast.


Aniplex USA promoted the film, named Rakuen Tsuihou in Japanese, through a series of screenings in 15 cities across the US. 26 showings played on December 13, 15, and 20 with attendees promised an exclusive movie poster.

Expelled 002 poster

To build up the promotion, Aniplex USA brought Producer Koichi Noguchi to the sold-out Los Angeles show on December 13. Though not known for any particular production other than the showcasing film, Noguchi kicked off the event with a short speech and a group picture.

Expelled 003 Noguchi

A short pre-recorded clip played before the film featuring Director Mizushima. Mizushima enthusiastically asked fans to enjoy the film, especially its state-of-the-art 3DCG animation technique.

Then the film began with a brief glimpse into the virtual world of DEVA, a futuristic paradise where humans live unrestrained by physical bodies. The 3DCG animation created a unique quality that seemed to emphasize the surreal virtual setting… but as the story cascaded into the real, post-apocalyptic world, the animation was the same, losing its potential for the Wizard of Oz black-and-white to color contrast.

Once in the real world, unexpected twists build up the relationship between Angela and Dingo. But the depicted earth was far from original, a desert wasteland filled with stereotypical characters. The last twenty minutes of story was entirely predictable, and Hayashibara, Takayama, and Mitsuishi collectively had less than a minute of scenes and lines. While well crafted fight scenes kept the audience entertained and occasionally drew some cheers, the predictable aftermath left viewers with a specific type of feeling: Fun to watch, but no desire to re-watch.

Would I recommend it? If you’re an anime fan, especially an Urobuchi fan – while not his best work, you will feel entertained. But for the general movie goer, if you’re interested in anime, skip this one and watch Paprika, Red Line, and Summer Wars instead.