They are by far the best anime! We counts down the best anime to come out all the time, including the likes of Red Colored Bridge, Ai, Kodomo no Kaitei no Koto, and more!
48: Red Colored Bridge
MAL Score: 3.68
Experimental animation by Keiichi Tanaami.
genres for this anime (in my opinion): mystery, physiological and drama
Warning this is an art film so don’t expect any voice acting. Focus on interpretation. That said in mind i will now begin my review.
I am american not japanese. I know very little yet i am progressing. Which is why i missed their character message and couple other messages. I did catch one of their common messages the koi fish. I know they are tranquil fish and used in ponds for scenery/relaxing/heritage settings.
I think this movie message was mind fucking(yes i cursed but on purpose. If you watch the short movie you will agree it has a second part) by higher powers. However, upon death one can finally settle down and paint the movie of their dreams. In other words…. times are tough. Somethings come to mind more than others to help aid in our troubles. The higher powers knew this and are constantly taking notes on how to improve if needed. Then at the end, we will get what we have wanted peace.
MAL Score: 4.23
A short experimental anime about a woman desperately in love. Made by Yoji Kuri, a well-known Japanese indie animator.
It’s obvious that this is very well crafted. People confuse abstract with complicated ideas, but this is a very straight forward portrayal of love and the development of that emotion over time.
The fact that someone can grasp that idea or even convey it without dialogue(plus this being 1962) is quite a big feat. Still… no emotional attachment so you can’t really call it a good story.
Judging it by today’s art or story telling standard is illogical since this work does not go by any conventional standards. However, there really isn’t anything special that I can see in the art. Characters are probably representational of something as is set design, but it’s too distant too interpret for me. It gets a 5 since I know it exists, but Kuri failed to make it apparent to anyone but himself.
The sound is the most fascinating part(and it was not done by Yoko Onno, but instead the experimental composer Toru Takemitsu). To explain what’s so fascinating about the sound track is to explain experimental music altogether(look up musique concrete).
More understandable is the reverb and other effects added to the word Ai. This is very much a representation of the situation that the two “characters” are in and in effect tells the viewer the story and the characters emotions.
This is most subjective, but if you have a minimal interest in avant-garde art a 7 is about right. Hardcore fans will go on to give everything a 10 and most others probably a 1 or a 2.
The best part about this anime? It was only four minutes long. Seriously, I hated it.
46: Kodomo no Kaitei no Koto
English: The Thing of Rotation for a Child
MAL Score: 4.34
For whom does a girl keep rotating? A story of a weird relationship between a child and adults.
(Source: Official website)
The cartwheels represent how Japanese society works as a circular routine, which discourages individualism. Henceforth, all of the women and the babies look and behave the same. This is the final result of the indoctrination process.
The women’s clapping acts as a symbol for the hive mind mentality which exists in today’s society. Even though the women may have different opinions on how to behave when the child performs a cartwheel, society forces these women to act in an idealistic manner to appease Japanese men.
Furthermore, as the story progresses we observe how the baby, who was previously dropped by its mother, matures in its prepubescent life, it can be seen mimicking the actions of the child.
This illustrates how the influence of the preceding generations impacts the lives of the babies, who are effectively engineered to become working slaves for the capitalist society, with no means of opposition.
There are plenty of symbols and metaphors which are still being identified in this work of art.
However, due to the intricate subtleties of the animation, it has become an arduous challenge in deciphering the true meaning of this masterpiece, but we hope that one day all of humanity will be able to experience it in its true interpretation.
When they started clapping I completely lost it. 10000/10
Story: 2- Such a heartfelt story, my heart really stopped beating. If my English teacher showed this to me in class I honestly wouldn’t be so surprised. Seems very poetic.
Art: 1- The Art is immaculate, very unique, never have seen anything quite like it before.
Sound: 6- Yes.
Character: 5- No. Poor Babies, there mama’s put them on the freaking ground in order to clap.
Enjoyment: 10- Hell yah
Overall: Mathematically speaking should be 4.8 but it’s a 10 now. To fukin bad math.
Apparently, this is rated G- for all ages. Don’t show this to your children’: Hide Yo Wife, Hide Yo Kids
This bitch over here is telling me to write a longer review. Like what am I supposed to write about??? It’s only 4 minutes. Idk who the hell came up with this idea but the title definitely makes sense for the content that is shown lmao.
To summarize it so you don’t have to watch it yourself, it’s basically a girl doing cartwheels in front of women holding babies to impress them. They drop the babies and clap. She does another one, they drop the babies and clap again. Not really a spoiler, that’s all that freaking happens lmao. That’s the whole story.
The art makes me cringe and hide under my blankets. Seriously. It looks scary at first but you get used to it.
Sound is actually good for an anime made during whatever time period this was made in, because I know it wasn’t in the last decade.
If you haven’t seen this animation yet and have nothing better to do, I recommend you watch it. Hey, a free list entry is a free list entry ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
45: Great Rabbit
English: The Great Rabbit
MAL Score: 4.43
Once we called the noble, profound and mysterious existence The Great. We have moved with the time, our thought and consciousness has changed. And yet what makes us still keep calling it The Great?
art film/no spoke audio or subtitles, granted there is mumbles but that is not actual words
This animation was mostly in black and white. A demonstration of an ongoing cycle. What the cycle represents was left for interpretation. I could watch it 20 or so times over and still be perplexed on the underlining meaning. Thankfully through some research online i was able to read up on the showing with words from the actual director. The message was don’t believe everything you see or hear especially on the t.v. Don’t abide to government’s orders like a drone.
On one hand that makes sense. We as a society have improved vastly in countless areas but in some areas we remain gridlocked. Mainly with the start of creation. We have seemed throughout time to hold that in high regards. What we should be doing is asking ourselves is it really still great? Is there more that we are missing?
On the hand the government was designed with our hopes in mind. That is why we have elections. In an effort to prevent any insane person from taking office. So, why must we change our thought process and stray away? Sometimes the truth should stay buried for it is not always what you want to find.
44: Nouryou Anime: Denkyuu Ika Matsuri
English: Squid Festival
Japanese: 納涼アニメ 電球烏賊祭
MAL Score: 4.60
Death is the gateway to birth. The deceased crosses the line to join the kingdom of the dead. He sees there the dance of the sperm and the egg. He is drawn towards the sky. This is the path to the afterlife.
For further explanation: Context isn’t needed for these types things, as often short films are meant to be viewed through the lens of your own interpretation, but without any distinct form of storytelling, this particular piece falls short of providing anything past pretentious imagery and lackluster quality.
Then ending attempts to bring the imagery to a better sense of understanding, but ends up feeling rather convoluted due to the open ended nature of the piece.
Not particularly bad, but simply lacking any real substance.
English: A Clerk in Charge
MAL Score: 4.63
A clerk has his own duty. A clerk does his own work. This is what a clerk should do.
(Source: Official website)
English subbed mostly with the exception of one word.
Wow… is the first word to escape my lips. Not saying it because of the amusing aspect but in terms of shock aspect. Not sure what is more scary what it was about or the rating it is listed as. Currently is marked as psychological which is another way of saying interpretation is required. I don’t personally mind that genre for it can invoke mysteries and if its anything like Sherlock Holmes it should be fun. It is not.
There is another aspect to psychological and that mainly mind twisters(dementia). Which this is. Never really liked this aspect(despite my many already watched anime and reviews). For mainly they make little to know sense. But this time it is because is really F’d up for having such a negative message. If i understand it correctly it is mentioning how awful jobs are that it drives people to cut their lives short (to put nicely).
Not the right mind set anyone should be in regardless of the situation. Luckily in a way the movie didn’t end quite there. It went for a little bit longer but didn’t provide much substance after that point. Part or me wished it had ended when it did. That message alone was quite negative. What had followed afterword demonstrated lack of caring by the company and that people, humans were nothing more than sheep or rats. Something that was in mass quality and wouldn’t likely be missed. Although, to be fair there is another thing worth mentioning. That being another form of interpretation to the art or story.
Let’s assume that the artist and writer wasn’t as negative as i mentioned above. Maybe just maybe they were trying to make a brutal, honest point. Which depending on the situation and topic may be called for. Perhaps they were making reference to one’s love. Or more precisely the dedication that one has with their surroundings. We have all been in situations that would be fair to call hopeless. Sure, we may not have used all our time and ran out all options but the main ones used had no quick result. How would you feel for example if you were an animal lover and what you were doing wasn’t good for animals? You tried appealing, you tried protesting and talking but nothing was being done. Maybe the company tried doing shady things like threatening to replace you, buy your silence and others. Which if given the right circumscriptions like being strong on having strong moral views regardless might call for more dramatic matters. For let’s face it most people don’t learn until something quite bad happens as a result. Like the poor security we had in America at airports. 9/11 sure fixed that problem. A bit to well if you asked me for it presented more harm than good. But that just goes to show what measures had to be taken to result in quick decisive actions. Going back to the anime maybe that is why they had the main character make that “final” action of his. Although, had that been the case if it were me i would have made that more clearer to the audience that was the goal.
-Simple black and white production.
-in a way or two defied logic as we know it. Or in different different terms based the structural in a fictitious fashion at least in terms of gravity.
Overall: while i had both a negative as well as positive interpretation of the plot as it stands at least with M.A.L.’s (myanimelist) grading as a kid anime i have to say for the safety of one’s kids that this be given the lowest form of grading possible. Oh yeah, and there is a lot of perceived cursing. I say perceived for when that ‘curse’ appears it could in all fairness be a non curse word sounding like a curse due to improper pronouncing. Without subtitles from the actual writer one can’t know for sure. But given the fact that word along with another word are the only ones being vocalized and in a quite repetitive fashion leads me to believe it is in fact the bi___ word(curse).
42: Yoru no Hi
MAL Score: 4.88
The rooftops of a darkened city, a couple walking by a lone streetlight on an otherwise darkened street, an old man rocking in a creaky chair in the corner of a room lit only by the moon or the streetlight entering through the window.
(Source: Nishikata Film Review)
Visually, this one’s a shocker. Everything is rendered in brown tones, which creates a murky, depressed, and solemn environment. As it is continually hand-drawn and erased, the animation style is choppy, bizarre, and quite creepy at times.
Unfortunately, the sound couldn’t hold up as well. Before writing this review I went to my local library to do some additional research on the source material. Basically, the audio files for this film were improperly recorded, and as such, all the dialogue was instead replaced with the sounds of rustling fabrics and typewriter clicks. Rerecording the lines would have costed a whole extra seven dollars and sixty-three cents, so the producer instead chose to roll with the messed up audio. As such, what was intended to be a neo-noir crime thriller movie ended up actually being way artsier than originally intended. Maybe that’s not a bad thing, but one day I would like to see the original artistic vision rendered into reality.
There is absolutely zero symbolism in the entire film.
Overall I would highly recommend checking out your local library. Library cards are quite often free, and you will find troves of knowledge. Besides, literacy is an important skill for both you and the upcoming generation. Visit the webpage of Reading is Fundamental to find out more about how you can support your libraries and the future literacy of your children.
The Old Man begins the movie depicted as ghaustly and rotting. Upon seeing the devil-moth give his blessing on The Child (who is symbolic of the anti-Christ), The Old Man is filled with jealousy of The Child’s fortune and youth. Desiring this upon himself, he grasps the moth and forces the ritual to happen. However, there cannot be two anti-Christs. The moth rejects him, flys away and burns up by a streetlamp.
However, DO NOT BE FOOLED by this intentional misdirection. Not only does this movie corrupt the minds of children and convince them to be full-blown Satanists, but this movie is Bourgeoisie propaganda. This movie is ACTUALLY designed to sell trading cards. So what if it’s only four (The Moth, The Old Man, The Child, and The Woman)? Four will become eight will become sixteen will become thirty-two will become sixty-four will become one hundred twenty-eight will become two hundred fifty-six will become five hundred twelve will become one thousand twenty four will become two thousand forty eight will become four thousand ninety six will become eight thousand one hundred ninty two will become sixteen thousand three hundred eighty four trading cards.
No one will be able to remember all the names if that happens. Not to mention that The Old Man would be put on the banlist before the game even got released. What’s the point in buying something that you can’t even use?
Despite this, I may or may not recommend this anime.
It is definitely eerie, even maybe a a bit unsettling, but not in a scary sort of way; the scariest part about this being the style it was drawn in, but even that seems to just add to the short film’s overall feeling.
All in all, I think this is a nice thing to watch once when you have a few minutes to kill, and don’t mind storytelling that’s voiceless. Though, don’t expect the story to be clear cut and obvious, since it definitely will leave you wondering just what this was about.
41: Hand Soap
MAL Score: 4.95
An atmospheric and dark vision of adolescence and family life.
The fluctuation causeds a destructive bubble of the space time continum that destroys everything in its path
Though it an be theorised that its action has an equal and opposit reaction that reverses the destruction without us knowing
Thus in this weird continum the mandela affect was theorised. The Mandela Effect is a collective misremembering of a fact or event. Various theories have been proposed to explain what causes it. With some even saying that it is evidence that you may have experienced events from a different reality. Finding others with similar memories can affirm that.
Overall a 3/4
seen via raw Japanese no English subs
There was some decent animation. The story line was left for the viewer to figure out exactly. How they went in portraying their message i was not a fan of. For example i understood the message as a boy/sister’s struggle to fitting in/bullying. so why did i need to see a dancing frog? or the boy’s penis? or the pus protruding out of a semi ripe pimple. this is not listed as a horror flick is it? i sure don’t recall it.
The art needs a tune up. I saw some faces as the scene changed but i was not sure who i was seeing the mother/father you get the idea. In addition to that the dark! fine, i understand i was tempted(didn’t) to cover my eyes at the gross scenes i did not expect the animation to do that for me. I understand you want to film/illustrate scenes that occur in the dark but come on there are better ways to do that then doing a simple blackout. For example why not put on a light filter for the viewer.
40: Nisou no Kuzu
English: Dialogue Between Two
MAL Score: 4.97
The dialogue in question takes place between a woman, who appears to be submerged in water, and a man who sits by a tree on sandy soil. The messages the couple sends back and forth to one another take the form of metaphor: a seed, a fish, a thorn, and so on.
(Source: Midnight Eye)
Subtle nuances in it’s narrative are nothing short of confusing, which is most noticeable during it’s closure. It’s story is filled with details, photo-realistic art is fitting and so are the simple but crisp animations. The evocative sound effects really added up to Nisou no Kuzu’s surrealist approach, which I found to be one of the main strengths of this short movie.
If you’re looking for something to chew on then this is right down your alley. Furthermore, I’d recommend checking out ‘Thinking and Drawing: Nihon no Shinseiki Art Animation’ collection featuring other thematically similar works of art.
MAL Score: 5.12
Everybody wants to be fashionable and praised. So do grandmothers.
(Source: Official website)
38: Wake up!! Tamala
Japanese: Wake up!! TAMALA
MAL Score: 5.36
In 2050, the world’s climate has changed for the worse. One rainy day, Tamala saves a honeybee named Kuronosuke from drowning in a gutter. As the last bee of the cat world, he invites Tamala on a magical journey back in time—back to our near future.
With Tamala’s era quickly approaching, civilization has begun to waste and destroy the nature that lie around them. Roving around a land where all other animals are extinct, she finally begins to starve.. Until Kuronosuke offers himself as food.
(Source: Official site, edited)
Story: It wasn’t really anything unique, but in the anime community I haven’t really seen something made with the goal of spreading awareness about climate change, pollution, and this kind of problems we are facing right now. The message was great and I think the producers made a good decision by talking about this, although the show felt a little dragged out at the end and a little bit too much Disney-like. I think the uniqueness in this one came from the scene where Tamala ate the bee, which reminded me of the original movie. 7/10
Art: Contrary to the movie, this time the animation wasn’t white & black, which, although I preferred the original version, was suitable for the theme (pollution). Aside of that, not much difference from the movie. 5/10
Sound: Okay, someone who prefers slower songs probably would love it. For me the ending from A Punk Cat in Space was way better. 5/10
Characters: If you watched Tamala 2010, you know what to expect. Although this time Tamala doesn’t seem to be immortal or a product, since at one point she goes to sleep and never wakes up and the only thing left is her skeleton, so I assume she dies. The bee’s sacrifice was interesting. 7/10
Enjoyment: Didn’t really like the last 3 minutes or so, it felt too much like a commercial or Disney movie ending. For a 17 minute short movie it was fine tho. 6/10
Overall it was fine, expected something a little more messed up and interesting since I saw A Punk Cat in Space, but was pleasantly surprised by the message it had
Also you can watch it without seeing Tamala 2010 first
MAL Score: 5.41
Surreal cutout (kiri-gami) animation following a young girl’s physical journey, which is also an inner voyage through which she will learn all the pain and joy of life. She travels to an anonymous Western city, a bizarre dreamscape cluttered with elements from works by Dali, Magritte, de Chirico and Escher. The journey will change her completely but when she returns she will be the only one who knows how she has changed.
(The poem in the film is by Su Tong-Po, a famous Chinese poet)
What more could you possibly ask for?
Story: 2 – Dreadful
This short tried to tackle various topics symbolically but the storytelling was a mess throughout.
Art: 1 – Pathetic
There was barely any animation for multiple portions of this short and none of the visuals were pleasant for the eyes.
Sound: 3 – Poor
The background song did not add very much to the viewing experience and there were not any outstanding qualities. (There is no voice acting in this short.)
Character: 1 – Pathetic
The protagonist did very little and was simply strung along by the inadequate plot. None of the other characters who made an appearance did much of anything due to their glaringly brief screen-time.
Enjoyment: 1 – Pathetic
I did not at all take enjoyment from watching this short, especially with my attempt of trying to understand the director’s thinking process when the thought of this idea.
Overall: 2 – Dreadful
A rather fair score for a short that excelled in being a horrible watch, though it is the only short where you could find this unique mix of Jesus, a T-Rex, tanks, and an alien eating babies.
A tad bit of non relevant Japanese spoken audio. Aside from that nothing else was spoken. There was a couple English words here and there but not in subtitles more in scenery.
a true art film
The artist took on multiple topics and expressed them mostly in symbolically fashion. An okay idea but without subtitles or some other form of guidance the viewer becomes lost in this symbolic jungle. Which is why some call the story a mess.
While animation was limited to certain aspects in frame the art show was never the same. For a viewer to relax and appreciate something visual they have to have an idea of what is to come. If it is a black and white piece they would expect a black and white piece throughout the show. This did not happen. Not only did the color keep changing but the scenery did as well. Which can be expected in an art movie. For it is almost like taking a film recorder in a museum.You are bound to see tons of different artist styles. But to collaborate all those styles into one is like taking different pieces from different puzzles and smashing them to fit. It won’t work. Not only that but certain aspects were clearly copied and pasted.
– while i did appreciate the background music to some regard it did not help understand the show so in a matter of thinking it was pointless. The only plus in having it was it aided me in watching the film in its entirety as opposed to stopping it midway through.
With a plot that was a mess it makes sense that the character(s) or in this character would follow suit.
This film had potential to convey a message of some matter but to not have proper direction made the entire film a pointless event. Also, what on earth was with the multiple forms of torture like alien eating babies or burning alive or stone man? So many questions i have with very little in forms of answers. My only theory behind this madness was this film was meant as a psych film. Meaning when the woman got on the train in real life and noticed that plane ad she interpreted it as a mental escape. For with life we are faced with multiple faces of trouble. Whether it is nasty traffic day in and day out, a cheating ex, or dealing with bratty kids. It can be enough pain to bring a person to a speedy end. Which is why the idea of getting away to places like Hawaii seem so appealing. But until one can bank enough time and money for a trip one must rely on religion (tranquility) as they continue to face the on going struggles that lie in front of them.
English: The Gourd-Bottle
MAL Score: 5.51
Independent animation by Suzuki Shin’ichi.
35: Taneyamagahara no Yoru
MAL Score: 5.55
Four workers wait out the night around a campfire. Three of them are talking about different things when they start hearing strange noises. Their discussion wakes up a sleeping companion who promptly goes back to sleep only to start having dreams…
The night on Taneyamagahara open with the conversation of the four workers in the night around a campfire. Three of them are talking about their experience during their life as workers. The story then move on to the conversation about weeds and oak trees about the season and their surround environment.
on the visual section, Simply put, The Night on Taneyamagahara is a brilliant piece of arts. Everything is hand-drawn, with fluid color almost as if it is a canvas painting animated. The backgrounds are detailed and encapsulate perfectly what japan is on the rural era.
The story however, Is a mixed bag. Taneyamagahara’s presentation is a dialogue after dialogues with a still picture following. It just 27 minutes length but it feels as though it was 3 hours show, the pace is very slow and not in a kind of a good way. However personally I can’t tell the show is bad, merely because the plot is actually quite deep and I think you may found some messages the anime deliver if you invest some attention to the anime, and the presentation is actually quite nice with the story was told with narrated picture-book format.
As for the sound, it was mute for the most part. With the sound seems giving the chance for the dialogue to take over and deliver the atmosphere.
The backsound boosted thought at the near the ending which I think is simply beautiful.
In the end, this anime is certainly doesn’t more attention than it actually needed, but I think there are something to find for those who likes to pay attention deeply to some anime. More or less this anime just appear to broaden the horizon of your anime collection which is also one of the purpose this review was made.
I totally fell in love with the simplicity of Taneyamagahara no Yoru, the genre “slice of life” barely has any meaning to me anymore in a monotonous deluge of school-themed SoL series, but this movie actually did seem like a true slice of life, a sliver from evening until dawn with a complete view of life including drifting in and out of lucidity, in and out of dream. It totally immersed me in that regional culture, and the choices in the art direction really made me hone in on the voice acting and the casual drawl of the regional dialect, which enhanced that aspect immeasurably for me. It seems not so much to straddle some dichotomy of rough-hewn practical engagement with reality and a drifting through dreams so much as it seems to present them as a cohesive and integrated whole. Anything more I might say ridojiri said better than I could.
I don’t know why I felt compelled to write a review for this, I usually just rate things. It just…affected me more deeply than I thought it would? Like, I’m STILL smiling. It’s a relaxing, engrossing work of art and I have no doubt that I’ll be returning to this over the years when I want to unwind with something that’s in no hurry to be itself as it unfolds. Truly amazing voice acting and soundtrack, great sound overall actually.
34: Shijin no Shougai
English: A Poet’s Life
MAL Score: 5.68
A worker is fired from a factory for demanding a wage increase. His mother, worn thin by poverty, is caught in her own spinning wheel. Then a strange storm buries the town in snow, freezing rich and poor alike. Another short film by Kihachiro Kawamoto
A think tank is the best way to describe this piece. A story is told while not as mystery presents a mystery. For it forces to the viewer to question what he/she just watched. From there try and decipher each character’s role and presence. While coming to an end with what they interpreted as the underlining message.
My take was a tale of the downfall to one’s on going riches. For money generally comes from others hard work. If one keep draining from the source with out providing some back the source will dry out in time. Once it drys out you no longer have a safety net. If the time comes where you need the extra cash you don’t have you are out of luck. Going towards the moral of treat others kindly with respect.
Sadly, this retrospect or life moral is not always acknowledged. Industries no matter where you look are still on a for profit regard. Whether it is a drug establishment or insurance. They are bleeding us dry. When we dry who will they bleed? Themselves?
Shown in a black and white outlook. Now, you can see that as early production for it kind of is(late 1900’s). Although, the artist here choose it to demonstrate suffering, horror, and lack of hope. Making a red sweater into the mix that will really stand out in a black and white piece.
Overall: Not a movie you can put to bed after watching it. This is something that should stick with you as you live your lives.
33: Ninja & Soldier
Japanese: NINJA & SOLDIER
MAL Score: 5.88
Two eight-year-old boys compete in a game of childish bravado. Ken is a Ninja, Nito a child soldier from the Congo who was forced to kill his own mother. Their na?ve game addresses cruel realities, and they talk about their differences and what they have in common. Accompanied by contrasting graphics, the film explores the types of acts of which humankind is capable.
32: Eikyuu Kazoku
MAL Score: 5.93
It started as a sociological experiment. Six different people were brainwashed to think that they were a family and then put in arbitrary situations to see how they would react; however, when a taping of the families conducts is sold in a desperate attempt to make a little capital, it instantly becomes a success. Now the family is a first rated show and their every move is broadcasted around the world without them knowing it. But when a clogged toilet sets off a chain of events that ultimately frees the family from the room they are confined in the broadcasters, not willing to lose their source of income, set out to hunt down and recapture every member of the Eternal family.
However, I wouldn’t recommend that anyone waste their time watching this. Even if you’re like me and trying to watch every single animation ever produced.
I like randomness, so just for the hell of it I’ll go ahead and give the overall a 4 instead of the much deserved 3.
It’s like “The Truman Show” but also has a hint of “The Matrix” which is really interesting as this predates both.
The characters were crazy but oddly enjoyable and it has a buch of really random scenes in it. The artwork was really surreal and while definitely not for everybody I’d say it’s worth checking out if you’re remotely interested as it’s only 28 minutes.
Also a little off topic but the final boss theme “Grace and Glory” in “Jet Set Radio” samples the ending song in this, I wasn’t expecting that, it was really cool.
31: Buddha Saitan
English: The Rebirth of Buddha
MAL Score: 5.95
17-year-old Sayako Amanokawa aspires to become a journalist, just like Kanemoto, an elite newspaper writer she looks up to. But Kanemoto, shamed from an erroneous report about a corruption scandal, jumps in front of a train and commits suicide. Since that incident, Sayako suddenly becomes able to see spirits and almost loses her life. However, from that near-fatal incident she experiences something extraordinary. The journalist inside her stirred, she embarks to find out about the truth. But the forces that stand in her way turn out to be much more formidable than she ever imagined.
The story follows 17 year old school girl Sayako who dreams of becoming a journalist. One day at a train station she sees a ghost of her idol journalist, Kanemoto, who committed suicide in the same train station the day before. The apparition of Kanemoto, distressed, pulls Sayako into a courtroom hearing where it is decided if he will go to heaven or hell because he committed a sin by killing himself. This triggers Sayako’s exploration into Buddhism and finding the true reincarnation of Buddha on earth.
Overall, this movie isn’t bad but it isn’t very good either. I rated it a four because of the lack of character development, average animation (with a strange scene of IMVU looking angels that looks nothing like the rest of the art in the movie), but has an understandable plot. The movie does have some shinning scenes: when the reincarnated Buddha talks about achieving success along with other enlightened teachings Buddhists adhere to.
I think if you’re looking for a quick movie to watch that is different than the majority of animes out there you should check this out.
Finishing the film 3 days ago, it’s fresh in my mind, so let me enlighten you with a true review.
The story starts off simple but then goes its own direction with the introduction of plot twists, religious perspectives and its referral or continuation to The Laws Of The Sun (watch that before you watch this film).
Despite not being an official sequel to the animated film mentioned above, this anime draws its ideas from it and references it using its actual scenes – so in a way, it’s a sequel to that story.
What’s wrong with the story being “too religious”?
Why watch it knowing that it’s going to be religious, since the title ‘screams’ religion?
It’s meant to be religious. Sure, it does seem like propaganda, but keep in mind that this film was created in Japan for Japanese audiences and that Japan is a mainly Buddhist-Shinto country.
So no, its purpose is not to brainwash humans living in the US or aliens living in Earth 2.0 into following Buddha’s ways.
The art is generally a good 8 – and it gets even greater when the anime turns serious or goes epic, like at the end when there’s a great battle and the art is turned up a notch to an 9.
Basically, it goes like this -> though at times it seems like a 7, normally it’s an 8 and at certain moments it’s a 9.
Now, I would say that the dub sucks, but then there’s Sorano, whose voice actor, in my opinion, nailed a ‘reborn Buddha’ perfectly.
Seriously, in every single grand speech he made, which most of the time lasted for 3 minutes, I would get goosebumps, and I’d say the same for other enthusiastic anime watchers.
The school girls sounded 20 years older than they actually are, apart from Sayako, whose dub was actually a mile better than the others’.
Sayako’s boyfriend’s dubbing seemed so lifeless, it felt like his voice actor wasn’t really bothered about it.
If given a choice, I would rate the dub a 6 – it has its pros and cons, but while the cons outweigh the pros, Sorano’s dubbing far outweighs the cons.
But seriously, it’s not unbearable and I’d recommend watching the dub for Sorano’s godly voice.
The sound. There’s one BGM in particular that plays when Buddha/Sorano appears, probably the most memorable of the OST there, for being so majestic and godly-like.
The ending song is the second-most memorable – it sticks on you and what’s good about it is that it tells the story of Buddha while sounding great and catchy at the same time.
But in general, the BGMs fit the scenes nicely, and that’s what matters really.
Some of the characters do stick on you, especially Sorano.
I once skipped to a scene of this film back in December 2013 and glimpsed Sorano, the reborn Buddha.
It’s been almost two years and when I decided to watch this film, I was anticipating his introduction the most.
I’d say the same for any other enthusiastic watchers.
I wouldn’t be surprised if they were also anticipating his appearance whenever things went wrong.
I started off hating the false Buddha and ended the anime with respect for him, now that’s something.
There’s Sayako’s dad – the anime went fast with its pace with his reaction to his secret being revealed, which disappointed me and really lowered his value.
Then there’s Sayako’s little brother, a cliched kid who runs around doing whatever he likes, and the anime does something smart with him at the end and the credits – for that reason it will stick with me whenever I see this anime.
Now, if you’re a skeptic of religion, you might have a hard time watching this because it seems like ‘propaganda’, but if you watch this with an open mind you’ll really enjoy it.
Overall, it’s really memorable, enjoyable and definitely worth a re-watch, which I plan on doing when the week starts hopefully.
Lastly, in Buddhism there ARE demons and evil spirits, such as an Asura, which is mentioned in the anime.
And about possessions – ever heard of a Yakkha? Ever heard of the Atanatiya Sutta?
Before bashing on an anime, it’s better to actually research points that you’ll present.
The anime doesn’t misinterpret its ideas and mix it with Christianity, it’s mainly about Buddhism.
I’m not a Buddhist nor religious, more like an agnostic, but what’s wrong with the religious side of anime?
Just enjoy it for what it is.
And I don’t mean a movie with a cult following, I mean a movie directly connected with a current Japanese cult, created to spread it’s screwed up propaganda.
And trust me it’s not the only one either. There are others just like it tied directly back to the same cult as well.
I came across this movie around maybe 6 years ago on vacation with my family in the middle of the night while scrolling on youtube. Since I was pretty new to the whole anime thing and would literally watch whatever I got my hands on, legal or youtube-wise, I thought why not.
My memory is pretty blurry about the experience as a whole, but I could remember a few weird things. 1, the reincarnation of Buddha into a japanese man, an athiest father(the antagonistic ‘non-believer) being proven wrong about his son’s illness by the powers of religion, and this really weird battle between human Buddha and this guy in dark clothing that I assumed to be their version of the Devil(since I was a Catholic school student at the time).
After a while, I forgot about the movie’s existence for the next some years, while my tastes in anime had evolved. Then a youtuber I follow, ThePedanticRomantic, posted a new video, ‘The Japanese Cult Producing 20+ Years Of Anime’. I highly recommend you to check this out.
Though she opens up the vid with mentioning the infamous cult that lead the devastating Sarin Gas Attacks of 1995, she quickly moves on to another similar cult that has been rising in popularity and more specifically has been making many original anime films for many years, this cult is called Happy Science. And yes, these are the people behind this movie and many more of it’s like.
Though some of their movies may have people finding them uplifting and whatnot, when watching them be aware that these are tools to spread their ideology. This is not a religion like Buddhism(which I thought it originally was), Christianity, Judaism, Islam, and etc.
This is a CULT, and it deserves to be categorized as such. Though they may give off a sound foundation that you might at first find harmless ,what’s added on top to that foundation is a bunch of screwed agendas like their denial of Japanese war crimes and their leader proclaiming to be the incarnation of not just the Greek God Hermes, but also Buddha, Jesus, and allegedly even Yodah from Star Wars.
And yet, one of the weirdest things I’ve learned of this was that this movie was able to get an official Western release and Dub by Eleven Arts, the same people who licensed Maquia and Liz and the Blue Bird, And this wasn’t the only Happy Science movie licensed by them as well.
Whatever you do, don’t support this movies and other movies connected to this cult, because Happpy Science spreads dangerous far-right Japanese nationalist agendas that can easily be taken seriously by anyone, and even if viewers can’t outright make out this propaganda through their viewings, just watching it alone indirectly supports and highly problematic group that can be considered as Japan’s Alt-Right.
Whatever you do, don’t support this movie, it’s sibling movies, or it’s parents at Happy Science it any way.
Besides, the movie is pretty shit anyway so why bother.
For more of a solid grasp on this whole situation check out ‘The Japanese Cult Producing 20+ Years Of Anime’ by ThePedanticRomantic on Youtube.
30: Da Shi Jie
English: Have a Nice Day
MAL Score: 5.98
A hard rain is about to fall on a small town in Southern China. In a desperate attempt to find money to save his fiancée’s failed plastic surgery, Xiao Zhang, a mere driver, steals a bag containing 1 million from his boss. News of the robbery spreads fast within the town and, over the course of one night, everyone starts looking for Xiao Zhang and his money.
The slightly ugly character designs pair fairly well with how acerbic and cynical most of the characters are, but the visuals and some of the backgrounds and graphics look, if not pleasing, then at least interesting. Extremely limited animation at times, with only mouths moving and shot-reverse-shot between characters, but it’s never painful to look at either. A couple of longer shots on scenery are nice and none of the framing and so forth really compares much to anime, it’s a lot closer to Western film in general and particularly indie-animated American films in the same vein.
A lot of inconsequential dialogue, a lot of chitchat and jokes without punchlines and so forth. I would never call this film clever or unique, but it’s well executed. It knows what it wants to do and it does that well. Slower, slightly atmospheric, etc. The lingering shots of an item, a body, or a scenic background with the decent sound work can be pleasurable despite feeling like padding sometimes.
That said, it does feel a little aimless, a little drawn out, a little crass. It’s only 70+ minutes long, but it felt 30 minutes longer than that, mostly in a bad way. I don’t know if I could recommend it to anyone beyond the novelty. It’s solid for what it is though.
Characters can subscribe to the spiritual schools of Buddha, Bill Gates or Mao and still not have the means to afford quality plastic surgery (like the Koreans), let alone material bliss in the form of online shopping. But hey, it’s good to dream of Shangri-la, right?
The film’s quintessential scene involves one character explaining 自由 (zìyóu or freedom) using the analogy of shopping, perhaps more specifically of affording. From that story, it’s clear: None of these people are free. Freedom isn’t found in poverty – but violence is. And things are going to get real bloody.
29: Tamala 2010: A Punk Cat in Space
English: Tamala 2010: A Punk Cat in Space
Japanese: タマラ 2010 ア パンク キャット イン スペース
MAL Score: 6.07
In the year 2010, practically one hundred percent of Cat Earth’s GDP comes from the megacorporation Catty & Co., which is rapidly spreading across the rest of the galaxy. Here lives Tamala, a beautiful yet foul-mouthed cat, who decides to travel to the planet of her birth, Orion. After an unfortunate crash landing on the planet Q, Tamala meets Michaelangelo, a fellow cat, whom Tamala refers to as “MoiMoi.”
As Tamala and Michaelangelo explore the planet’s capital, Hate City—which is under martial law to separate the feuding cat and dog populations—they pass by graffiti and museum exhibits about the ancient cult of Minerva that speak of something dark and sinister. After Tamala catches the eye of the extremely violent motorcycle-riding Kentauros, she and Michaelangelo flee, but mysteries about Tamala’s identity continue to surface. Why did Tamala originally leave Orion, and what exactly is her connection to Catty & Co.?
The thing to understand about Tamala is that it’s a very artsy fartsy indie film. It’s a struggle to come up with comparisons in anime because it’s so different, but its directing style reminded me a lot of 2001 Space Odyssey. Reality is distorted. A lot is said without words, really drawing out certain scenes in order to hammer home the point. It’s a frying pan to the face method of metaphor-driven storytelling.
My problem with these kinds of stories is I seriously struggle to get engaged in the message when there’s a disconnect between the story and the secondary story told through the imagery. The way the story is told makes the meaning harder to grasp. Tamala doesn’t do this. The leading story about the ills of capitalism and corporations and marketing images is both the metaphor and the surface story. It just also happens to have a very unusual method of getting this message across which doesn’t exactly conform to reality.
Tamala, the lead cat character, is the face of the Catty and Co brand that own 99% of the earth and has turned it into this dreary place where it rains the whole time, surrounded by massive skyscrapers covered in advertisements for Catty and Co brandishing this cat as their logo. She is Hello Kitty, an all purpose logo character to put on everything they create. When she escapes to the rundown shithole planet, Catty and Co isn’t there, and she spends her time just living the dream. And by the ‘dream’ I mean doing whatever the fuck she wants with no paying heed to consequence.
It’s a very Rebel Without a Cause movie. Having the word ‘Punk’ in the title isn’t to just sound cool or anything. The things Tamala do are very destructive, spur of the moment decisions that have no sustainability. She’s rude to everyone and everything, damaging property and wasting money doing whatever she wants. There’s a rather alarming amount of English-language swearing in this too, on top of all the regular ‘kuso’ Japanese swearing. It’s not quite Panty and Stocking “Motherfucker, Fatherfucker” levels, but it’s the next best thing. It’s not about trying to appear hardcore or anything, which is why heavy swearing usually appears in entertainment. It’s about tying it into this punk-life attitude she has when she’s trying to get away from the corporation.
What’s interesting about the movie is that, while it’s critical of the capitalist machine, it doesn’t have much positive to say about anything else. The shithole planet is covered in dirt, the streets are full of dying bodies and prostitutes, and the police chief is a thug who keeps a lady mouse in his house as a prisoner so he can sexually violate her. When Catty and Co swings into town, ultimately nothing changes, except now the streets are covered in Catty and Co advertisements instead of graffiti.
The ultimate goal of Catty and Co was to create some sort of hive mind mentality of all the young people, following their lead and consuming Catty and Co products like zombies. The ultimate betrayal of that lifestyle is Tamala, their own logo. Anarchy and punk lifestyle is destructive and harmful, but it’s the only way she gains her individuality outside of being this logo. Throughout the movie she’s trying to get to Orion, where supposedly her real mother is before she was taken and starred as the logo. It represents this time before she lost that innocence, a bit like what Rosebud represents to Kane in Citizen Kane. Gosh, I’ve referenced 2001, Rebel Without a Cause and Citizen Kane in this post. I’m not trying to sound overly poncy, I swear! It’s just this is such a strange movie that I really have to delve into the back of my memories to come up with some other sort of touchstone to ground my thoughts.
Tamala doesn’t reach Orion. According to Wikipedia, the movie was planned as a trilogy, but they never made more. Not entirely surprised either, given that it was the strangest artsy film I’ve seen in a long, long time, and does have some serious issues, even accepting the bizarre way it tells its story and some of the eccentricities that come with that. There’s a terrible bollocks of a scene where the movie drops all attempts at at visual storytelling to instead have some old bloke sit on a coach and narrate for 20 minutes about what the point of the movie was. It was a real stupid scene and dragged it down several points in my estimation.
But I did like Tamala. Somehow the mood managed to grab me and send me into this weird psychedelic haze where I wanted to run outside in my underwear with a baseball bat, smash a billboard or two and yell ‘down with the man’. I think a large part of that was the music, which is one of the best I’ve ever heard. It’s like a cross between the Hotline Miami soundtrack and The Pillows, which to me is like some sort of glorious combination of my two favourite types of music in the world. Even taking my taste in music aside, it’s perfect for the tone of the movie and went a huge way to making the more pretentious, eccentric, slower parts of the movie tolerable.
Recommending Tamala is incredibly difficult, because I would have to know you as a person. I could see someone thinking it was the biggest load of pretentious artsy nonsensical bullshit ever, and I could see someone else thinking it was the most profound daring movie that captured a tone so perfectly that they thought it was the greatest thing ever, and I would totally understand where both sides are coming from. If you like artsy films, and are in the mood for something genuinely completely different from absolutely everything else out there, give Tamala a shot. At the very least, it’s worth it for the music.
Tamala is about a pretty little female Cat, Tamala, who sets off from Cat-Earth on a journey to get to her home planet where she was born, Orion. Along the way her spaceship is damaged and she lands on a Planet, where she meets a male cat Named Michelangelo(Though Tamala keeps calling him MoiMoi). The movie basically follows what happens while Tamala is on that planet.
At first the story sounds very simple, and the animation style can trick an individual into thinking its an anime for younger audiences. That is far from the case. Despite its initial appearence, Tamala has loads of adult themes in it and there are deeper mysteries behind the plot. The biggest of these mysteries is "Who/What exactly is Tamala? Who is the Robot in the dream sequences in the movie?" There are other mysteries too, many concerned with the omnipresent Catty & Co. company that dominates the commercial/political universe of Tamala.
As I said before, don’t let the art decieve you. As a matter of fact, though many seem to be put off by the simplistic art style, I think that for this movie it fits nicely because it lends beautifully to the Surreality of the atmosphere. Add to this the fact that there are spots in the movie that suddenly shift from the standard, simplistic style to CG rendered hyper reality, and it completes the formula that makes this movie such a strange and interesting journey.
Unfortunately I didn’t really notice anything special about the sound, though it didn’t seem to detract from the movie either. There is one song that recurs at multiple points in the movie that has an ethereal sound to it. I thought it was okay.
The character development was very well done for a 1.5 hour movie. Tamala comes across as a very spicy character despite her youthful appearence and childish way of speaking. That too is part of the surreality. Tamala speaks like a small child in the way she pronounces her words and phrases her sentences, like at one point in the movie when she says he has to go to the bathroom. She uses the japanese word a child would use, kinda like a little kid telling his parents he has to make pee-pee. But then there are times where she says some really adult things in this childish tones, even dropping the f-bomb(in english, mind you). This uneven matching of innocence and maturity makes Tamala an interesting character.
The supporting characters come across very nicely too. Michelangelo has a common-sense, mellow feel to him, and it’s cute at times to watch his growing attachment to his new friend Tamala. Kentarou comes across well as being the mean jerk he is, though even he is shown to be a human character in the end.
I gave this a little lower scoring because of the fact that it took me a good half hour of thinking "what in the world am I watching, and why?" before the pieces started to fall together sufficiently to get me interested. The harsh language/content matter combined with the simplistic style almost threw me off. Once I started to get interested, though, I enjoyed this movie thoroughly. Other than that My only real complaint is that the movie seemed to end on to much of an open note for me.
Overall I really enjoyed this movie and hope that others manage to find it and give it a good shot.
I learned of _Tamala_ from Anime Year by Year’s 2002 entry, which describes the work thus:
“Unbeknownst to her, she is genetically engineered to remain eternally young by the conglomerate Catty & Co., formerly the clandestine cult of Minerva, so that she can be used for advertising purposes. Even after she is killed mid-film by a pedophilic dog police officer, she remains ‘immortal’ with her face plastered over all of Meguro Ward, Tokyo in ads for cigarettes, matchboxes, and other consumables. One of her flings, a cat named Michelangelo (calling himself Professor Nominos later in the film), views the logographic Tamala in the same way Oedipa Maas does the muted post horn in Lot 49 and starts giving lectures on her hidden significance. To anyone who enjoys Pynchon’s novels, this winding and nonsensical plotline won’t be a deterrent. Tamala does a great job at capturing the essential elements of his art: conspiracy theories that go nowhere, riffing on the emptiness of semiotics (Tamala represents anything and everything to her observers a la the post horn in Lot 49), postmodern obsession with holocaust and atrocity (Tamala’s only wish is to return to her home planet of Orion, origin of the massacre). Moreover, the cyclical structure common in the postmodern novel is contained in Minerva’s belief that Tamala is their god Tatla: “Why can’t Tamala die?” The reason is now visible. Tamala must live forever, the everlasting cycle of Destruction and Rebirth with Tamala as the centerless center – the icon of Death and Resurrection – must be retained so that Catty & Co. may continue to expand its network of conspiracy and worldwide capitalism…I also appreciated the unconventional B&W coloration and 1960’s OST, and the use of Flash, far from being distracting, fits with irreverent attitude of the film’s protagonist; naturally, a true punk anime shouldn’t use the normal means of production. Many adaptations lazily copy the text of the original work. Tamala distinguishes itself by reproducing the spirit of Pynchon’s work while grounding it in a fundamentally different context. Though the film alienated many of its viewers (the lengthy monologue towards the end is usually cited as a sticking point), I found Tamala to be a complete success thematically and an ideal example of avant garde animation.”
Intrigued, I checked it out. My impression was less favorable.
I started off favorably inclined, as the artwork beckoned back towards the forgotten era of hyper-kinetic deformed black-white animation, before Disney’s hegemony, and any revival gets kudos from me. The Pynchon paranoid mood also was OK with a number of creepy elements buried in the urban background (the giant robotic advertisements being a good example). Slowly, the artwork begins to wear as the sheer repetitiveness and minimalism and slow pans and static camera and unimaginative gray-scale coloring shows it’s not some East Asian/Kubrickian esthetic, it’s just low-budget cheapness. (I may like Flash animation well enough for short, but *92 minutes* of it?)
The paranoid mood in fiction is exhausting, and to a great extent, depends on the payoff because you’re setting up a mystery: what is really going on, or is the protagonist just crazy? _Tamala_ suffers from dwelling on a topic of little interest to us: the slow decay into riots of the random city (heavily reminiscent of _Taxi Driver_’s NYC – lots of casual violence, prostitutes, etc) she wanders into. Other choices alienated me (what was the point of the mouse sex-slave?) or irritated me as much as the art (Tamala only speaks in an immature monotone, no matter what she is describing or saying). We ultimately do get the whole framework laid out, in a single gigantic infodump at the end, as AYY alludes to. Infodumps usually indicate a failure of writing, and _Tamala_’s infodump is no exception: it comes too late for me to care, and when laid out baldly like that, my reaction is more “huh?” The plot… I don’t even… well, I can’t say I’ve seen *that* in worldbuilding before, so it definitely has novelty.
The work ends abruptly after the monologue and from Wikipedia, it seems they had intended to complete the return of Tamala to Orion and come up with a real ending, but that has not happened and so (given it’s an obscure work from 12 years ago now) the viewer will be perpetually in suspense as to the rest of Tamala’s story. I’m willing to put up with weak entries in a series if the rest delivers, but unfortunately _Tamala_ has to be judged on its own.
So, definitely unusual, definitely avant garde and experimental, but not much of a success. I don’t regret watching it but it’s probably best for those who want novelty and have run through most of the usual suspects in anime.
28: Darkside Blues
Japanese: ダークサイド ブルース
MAL Score: 6.08
The Persona Century Corporation has purchased nearly every parcel of land on earth. Dissension is not tolerated within the corporation’s borders and those who oppose Persona are dealt with swiftly. Of those few places not yet under Persona’s control is the free town of Kabuki-cho, also known as “The Dark Side of Tokyo”. Within the town, under the leadership of a woman named Mai, is a small resistance group called Messiah. Into this world steps a man who takes the sobriquet of Kabuki-cho: Darkside. Sealed up in another dimension eighteen years ago by Persona Century, Darkside now returns to aid Messiah using his unique mystic power of renewal.
Darkside Blues is a nice little gem from the 90s based on a manga by Hideyuki Kikucho who is one of the most respected horror writers in Japan. Often called the Stephen King of Japan, many of Hideyuki’s novels have been adapted to anime such as Vampire Hunter D, Wicked City, and Demon City Shinjuku.
Animation – 8
I’ll go ahead and draw attention to the elephant in the room: this is an old anime. The art and animation styles likewise reflect the 90s. Whether you enjoy 90s style or not is your choice, but compared to other works of the time, Darkside Blues fares very well. The art and animation themselves are slightly above average, but I don’t think many people can deny the style this show brings to the table. While there’s nothing too progressive as far as the direction or choreography at work here, I still can’t help but be impressed at how easy everything seems. By this I mean that it seems the style just flows off the screen naturally and can be seen in the fluid movements of the characters in many scenes. While there are many action sequences, they aren’t so much edge-of-your seat and jaw dropping as they are seamless and fluid which is very pleasing to the eye.
Sound – 9
While maybe a handful of people out there won’t like the music here, I think the sound is perfectly done. The melancholy music does a great job setting the mood and enhances the feel of Kabuki-cho as a city.
The Japanese voice actors do a good job and are obviously cast well for their roles. Natsuki Sakan is a great fit as Darkside and this is one of those times when a female voice actor really does seem more appropriate for a male character.
Story – 8
Set sometime in the future, Darkside Blues depicts a world almost completely owned by the Persona Corporation. One of the few free areas is the slums of Kabuki-cho, often called the dark side of Tokyo. There are various ‘enhanced’ humans running around who boast supernatural powers, though it’s never explained whether this is actually magic or achieved with technology. Taking place in the future, there is quite a bit of technology around in the form of watches that fire lasers, robotic attack drones, and even a massive quantum cannon.
Something interesting I noticed was how similar this movie is to the Clint Eastwood movie Pale Rider (which was in turn a retelling of the classic western Shane). The reason I say they are similar is that, just like Pale Rider, Darkside Blues follows a small group of people (Messiah) whom are resisting oppression at the hands of a wealthy group (Persona Corporation) and then inserts a mysterious stranger (Darkside) who has a score to settle. While Darkside may seem to be the main character, the movie really seems to focus more on the effect his presence has on the members of Messiah.
Unfortunately, the movie seems like a small part of a whole that the viewer is never fully aware of and some things are left unexplained. Despite that, the sub-plot involving the escape of an Anti-Persona resistance fighter is covered well. The main confusion involves the backstories of many characters.
Character – 7
There are a lot of good things here, unfortunately most of the characters are undeveloped with only hints given regarding their past. The only characters really explored are the resistance fighter Tatsuya and Selia, an acquaintance of the Messiah members.
Darkside himself is almost a walking cheat code as time and time again various Persona assassins run across him only to find their attacks have no effect. Darkside only bothers to take his hands from his pockets on a couple of occasions and really he never seems worried no matter what attacks are being thrown at him. Darkside’s past is only ambiguously explained, but really his character is in the movie to bring about change in others.
Through a process he calls ‘renewal’, he enables various characters to overcome hurdles formed when they were emotionally scarred in the past. Though for some people, this renewal simply brings about their death.
Enjoyment – 9
I personally love 90s anime and Darkside Blues is a great one. This show walks a fine line of psychological and action so there is substance to chew on mentally, or if you just wanna sit back then there’s plenty of action as well. While I wouldn’t call this an action anime, I don’t think more than 5 minutes ever go by before the next altercation starts.
I really wanted to like this movie because it was based on a manga by Hideyuki Kikucho who also wrote Vampire Hunter D. You can see the similarities in the animation (which is superb for its time,) supernatural themes and mysterious, romanticized character of Darkside. Unfortunately, the movie did not live up to the D.
Call me dense, but I never did understand Darkside’s power or why he was at odds with the Persona corporation. Had he not been a part of the movie, the story would have been complete–an oppressed society rising up against its oppressor. In fact, the most explored characters are the terrorist and the Kabuki-cho resident that nurses and shelters him.
Where the anime does excel is the music. In the opening sequence, a street musician breaks out in a blues number during a struggle against Persona. The blues music portrays the heavy air of oppression in Kabuki-cho.
There is thought provoking dialogue regarding peace and whether peace achieved through force is actually peace. Had the movie followed these themes without the supernatural element, it would have been a success.
Japanese: MAROKO 麿子
MAL Score: 6.30
Summary for the Gosenzosama Banbanzai! OVA.
26: Atama Yama
English: Mt. Head
MAL Score: 6.41
After a stingy man eats some cherry seeds, a cherry tree grows on his head and he gets into a lot of trouble.
theatre with surrealistic images in the background rather than watching an anime, which is a large part of what makes watching it so interesting! This verve for stage direction comes mostly from his choice of story adaptation, seiyuu and musical directors as much as from his execution or art style, which often leave its viewer wondering what really happened there. And while his art style is unique, where Yamamura Kōji really shines is how he tells a story.
In my review for Inaka Isha I mentioned the feel of Noh theatre in the work; for this adaptation of traditional Japanese rakugo* story Atama Yama, director Yamamura Kōji tells the story using another kind of traditional Japanese fare – rōkyoku (also known as naniwa-bushi), which is a genre of traditional Japanese narrative singing generally accompanied by a shamisen.
To help execute his vision, Yamamura selected rōkyoku singer and bluegrass shamisen artist, Kunimoto Takeharu, to play the narrator and various members of the cast. Kunimoto, who has a real vocal flare for the dramatic, transports us to contemporary Tokyo, Yamamura’s choice of setting for his stage, where we are shown a man too stingy to let go and too greedy to leave behind. Is this another surrealistic perspective of man’s eternal dilemma of Eternity and Death or simply a moralistic play about the dangers of greed? While it doesn’t answer any of the fundamental existential dilemmas or make us grow in our interpersonal relationships, it is still interesting to watch, if only because of the insights we gain into Japanese culture and tradition.
One of the best parts about Yamamura’s directing style is that he realizes how talented the people he hires are and basically lets them do their thing. This usually means that the seiyuu’s skills at storytelling shine through with the first breath, and so it came as no surprise to me when the musical quality of Kunimoto Takeharu’s voice took mine away. There were times watching this that I found myself unable to pay attention to the story because I was too busy listening to his narrative and the way he would change his voice or even how he paused to breathe. This alone would have been enough to capture my attentions, but when accompanied by the music of his shamisen, and at times a haunting violin as well, I went away chilled and thought to myself “I almost prefer to see this as a play rather than in it’s animated form.”
But see this once anyway, if only to hear the talented Kunimoto Takeharu tell you a story and listen to him play his shamisen.
*Rakugo (落語) is a type of Japanese verbal entertainment, originally known as karukuchi (軽口). A lone storyteller, called a rakugoka, (落語家) sits on a Kōza stage and using only a paper fan and a small cloth depicts a long and complicated comical story. The story always involves the dialogue of two or more characters, the difference between the characters depicted only through change in pitch, tone, and a slight turn of the head.
— Information courtesy of Wikipedia
One major takeaway would be the integration of motifs as the crux of all chaos that is seen to its causal endpoint on the artifice of destiny. Every swath of misfortune that befalls the man with the cherry tree growing from his bald head is caused by his indignation to resign and uproot it before tertiary problems begin to take root (giggles) and drive him into a corner. The little people frolicking by the “tree” on his head? They seem unfazed by what self-inflicted mockery he has to put up with on a daily basis, and as if it couldn’t get any worse for him, they act out every destructive impulse known to humankind on his shrivelling epidermal “zenshin taitsu”, if only out of a complete disregard for the host on which they thrive. They’re parasites, and this man refuses to do a thing about it. Why wouldn’t he cut down the cherry tree? Why did he think it wise to chew on a cherry blossom seed which fruit came from an unknown place, where nutrients in the soil beneath were likely scarce? And above all, why was the man so god-damned stingy?
All of these we don’t get a concrete answer to. But what we do get in return however, coalesces into something beyond even our wildest imaginations. Something beyond even my own imagination.
What a bloody masterpiece by Yamamura-sensei this turned out to be. Thoroughly recommended. Through and through.
25: Ch oS;Child: Silent Sky
English: Ch oS;Child: Silent Sky
Japanese: CHAOS;CHILD SILENT SKY
MAL Score: 6.56
Silent Sky is a combination of the additional episodes 13 and 14. It consists of the story in the future, three months after the incident that was similar to “New Generation Madness” and the disease Chaos Child Syndrome that brought by the past earthquake in Shibuya.
As for the plot of the movie / True Ending, I quite enjoyed all the twist, the plot reveals, and the character development presented for both the main characters Serika and Takuru. It was also nice to have a villain that has his own motives separate from the other main antagonists in the series.
I rate the C;C anime+movie as 8/10, and the VN as 10/10. It is not quite as great as Steins;Gate, but it is very close. I would definitely recommend playing the VN first and then watching the anime.
ChäoS;Child: Silent Sky occurs after the events of the anime series and for the first half focuses on Serika Onoe digging her way back to the New Generation Madness murders and to Takuru while the last half gives Takuru the resolution he gets after the bittersweet ending he was given in the anime series.
Oh don’t get LA wrong, Takuru pretty much KNOWS he needs to take the punishment he created himself and he gets it both emotionally and latter on physically thus even the True Ending though a little bit less ambiguous as the anime series ending it’s still bittersweet.
Due to the anime series ending, the only main players of Silent Sky are Takuru, Serika and Mio, with major character development in the form of resolutions from Takuru in fully owning up to his crimes from the anime series, Serika from knowing to stay away from Takuru and Mio guiding them in curing the Chaos Child Syndrome from the rest of the cast (thus their inactivity from this movie until the end). But even with the majority of the cast absent, both of Takuru and Serika’s ultimatum was great development from them and again helped with the ambiguous ending the anime series gave us.
The animation and voice cast are back so LA won’t say much, really the animation is expected from Silver Link, while Sumire Uesaka as Serika and Yoshitsugu Matsuoka as Takuru were probably the most obvious standouts with them taking the majority of the screentime.
LA will say that ChäoS;Child as an anime was a bit middling with it’s large cast and rather crazy, gory and complex plot but with some great plot twists as a result (and meta-wise tries to redeem Chaos;Head’s mixed to negative reception by righting wrongs using it as a foundation), heck LA will give the anime’s ambiguous ending as pass as it gave a HUGE sacrifice from it’s main protagonist in similarity to Okabe from Steins;Gate, but Silent Sky pretty much gave it’s definitive ending that Chaos;Child needed.
ChäoS;Child: Silent Sky gives us the True Ending and really as much as it’s of a bittersweet ending as the anime series, not all True Endings NEEDS to be happy and from the Science Adventure series, even more so.
English: Kakurenbo: Hide & Seek
MAL Score: 6.71
Among the high rises of steel pipes, meshed power lines, and faded neon lights, exists a game that children dare to play within the ruins of the old city.
“Otokoyo,” a secret game of hide-and-seek, one where all who play wear fox masks and only begins when seven have gathered. But it is no normal game, as all who have played it have gone missing. Many whisper it is the work of demons, but that is just a rumor… or is it?
Kakurenbo follows the story of seven children as they play Otokoyo for the first time and discover why if you play, you never return.
As for the characters, they’re all grade school children but they all have their own unique style and look. For instance, one kid has earrings big enough to have a kanji symbol on it, another has a mowhawk, etc. Regardless these kids arent your typical type of kids but I don’t think this show is aimed toward a young audience considering the graphic nature of this OVA. Well its not a graphic violence but more of a psycho thriller. Which is pretty unique since you dont see these types of anime being produced as much. But back to the characters, they all wear fox masks as a requirement to play the game. I’m assuming this is a move to save money on animation, or it can be to increase the scare factor of the show. Which brings me to the art and animation of the show.
Apparently it took the production team 6 months to produce this one episode, and you can see that most of their work was put into the art and animation of this show. It looks like most of the show was hand drawn but the characters are a mix of cell-shading and hand drawn animation. As you well know this combination usually looks pretty bad, but surprisingly they managed to make it look really REALLy good in this show. The antagonists are all vibrant and oozing evil, neon lights all have a soft neon glow, posters on abandoned walls are written out with care, and even heaps of trash and debris have their own beauty to them. The detail to the background artwork is just insane it appears they put in just as much work to the backgrounds as they did to the characters.
As for the sound effects and voice acting, one turns out VERY EXCELLENT and the other turns out VERY mediocre. The sound effects are top notch and set the mood all perfectly. Almost a little too perfect. Still air can be heard, buzzing of neon lights, even the dilapidated buildings that make the setting all creak and crack with antique clarity. At times, the sound will actually make you jump if you get too into the show. On the other hand, the voice acting is mediocre at best. Most of the time they don’t even speak, they mostly run and scream in fear. Two of the kids don’t even speak at all. But where there is no dialog, they’re usually some sort of suspenseful, creepy, or downright ominous song brooding over the show.
As usual, my review is starting to becoming longer than the whole show itself. Overall, the show is a great psychological thriller who is very open minded to unique shows. This show is obviously full of holes and inconsistencies, but the whole experience will still be exciting every time i watch it. And I’ve watched it 4 times already 🙂
Anime: Kakurenbo is a half-hour OVA that was produced as a collaboration between CoMix Wave Inc (known for their work on 5 Centimeters per Second and Voices From a Distant Star), Dentsu Inc (known for their work on Antique Bakery and D.Gray-Man) and Yamatoworks/D.A.C (this was their debut production), and directed by Shuhei Morita (who also directed the Freedom OVA series). Kakurenbo was released on September 1st, 2004 in Japan, was licensed Stateside by the now defunct Central Park Media, who released it on October 30th, 2005.
Story: In a city that’s now in ruins, children play the game of Otokoyo (a Japanese version of hide and seek), but seemingly disappear whenever it’s played, supposedly spirited away by demons. A boy named Haraku enters the game hoping to find his sister, who went missing playing Otokoyo.
This OVA’s really good at ramping up the creepy factor. You’re thrown into this world with little to no background whatsoever, and truths unravel slowly as you watch these kids going through the game, which grows more and more scary as you go through. You don’t know much about the kids initially, as they’re all wearing fox demon masks, as required per the game, but you learn enough details about them as they go through the game. And there are some excellent and truly scary twists in this, though I would suggest some cultural background before going into this, as it’ll make these make a lot more sense. And everything wraps up neatly in a half hour’s time.
Art: Kakurenbo was made entirely using 3D CGI and cel-shaded animation, like in Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker. The art for this in general is incredibly well done, and conveys the creepiness of the atmosphere perfectly, not to mention the designs of the creatures you find in here. ‘m personally not that much of a fan of cel-shaded animation, though, as it does look a bit strange in places, especially with regards to the childrens’ expressions, which are incredibly wooden. It is a fairly new technology, though, so it’ll probably become better-used with time.
Music: I really like what they did here. Traditional instruments are used and orchestrated perfectly, as is the incredibly understated use of silence, to add to the tension in the entire thing. Excellently done.
Seiyuu: They didn’t particularly stand out, but neither did they leave much of an impression on me. Overall, passable job here.
Length: The OVA does feel a bit constrained by it’s half-hour run time, but it still manages to tell a good, creepy story, even if we aren’t as invested as we could be in the kids. Overall, it does well with what time it has, even if it could be a bit better.
Overall: An amazingly creepy OVA with a pretty good story and music track, decent art and seiyuu, and a length that could’ve been longer for maximum effect. A good watch for Halloween.
Overall: 39/50; 78% (B-)
1. Is this anime for you?
A: If you are easy to trick and get lost in atmosphere quite often, or don’t watch horror much or are frightened easily then yes.
Now part 2 is justify why you hate something to the people who love it. (Fair enough since you should at least provide good reasoning for liking or hating something.) Past this part has SPOILERS.
It is a game of 7 children. There are 8 children. This is the start. Gee, WONDER WHO THE 8TH IS!? Also, she looks exactly like the one kids sister (despite wearing a mask), and they all wear fox masks. Now they spend 16 minutes running around the city looking for the girl (8th child) as well as being chased by monsters. During which period, they find a poster with 4 monsters and a fox in the middle.
Right then I stopped the movie, walked to my brother’s room and explained to him That I’m watching a OVA in which there are kids running around with a fox mask, an extra kid pulling a Silent Hill 2, and that the fifth monster was a fox. We said IN UNISON “She’s it”. She literally is “It” btw. To catch the children. Then after 16 minutes elapse, we get to see that SHE IS THE MONSTER! Oh wow, shocker on shock street. They still feel the need to then explain that however. Then she says “When we play Hide And Seek the city gets brighter, but only for a minute”. Right then I said “She’s using them as batteries” then that’s revealed, as if that’s a surprise. Then it’s revealed the last child is it, go figure.
So in addition to being 100% predictable, how is the atmosphere since that’s a key aspect of horror! It’s not great. The music is poor, it’s often annoyingly dark despite being animated, the creatures are not that scary, the characters are not particularly likable. They’re UNLIKABLE CHILDREN, how is that possible!? Probably because they’re soulless, in a 20 minute production, designed primarily to serve as fodder for the monsters.
The only thing it does well is somehow make 3d cell shading not look horrible for 20 minutes.
So I guessed the plot, I wasn’t afraid or creeped out despite watching it at midnight in a dark room, and it didn’t entertain me. Enjoy! I am being generous with my rating.
MAL Score: 6.71
Who is good and who is evil? What is the boundary between them? An animated thriller about the tension between a good-hearted person speaking falsely and an evil-natured person speaking truthfully, and of those that surround them.
Similar to Sangho Yeon’s last movie, Dwaejiui Wang, Saibi depicts a darker part of the society, such as religious cults, swindlers, alcohol abuse, and domestic violence. Throughout the movie, the viewers are left to ponder about what is right and what is wrong, and may be very frustrated by how there is not a single character that truly acts on “justice”. I will leave to to the viewers to decide what director Yeon was trying to communicate in this movie, but I think he did an excellent job.
The art and sound isn’t outstanding, but it does not inhibit the overall presentation of the movie. Most of the animation is 3D, which some of us may not like, and there wasn’t really a soundtrack that stood out. As far as I can recall, the soundtrack was quite minimalistic of it existed at all, but this actually helps in depicting the cold reality of this movie; there is no soundtrack in real life lol.
The character in combination with the plot was simply great. At least that’s my opinion. If I explain why, it will be a spoiler, so I won’t talk about it in two much detail. There are two main protagonists of this story. One is an alcoholic father who abuses his daughter and his wife whenever he comes home. Another is a priest who leads a rundown church in the village which is about to be filled up with water due to a dam project. There are multiple conflicts that involves those two protagonists, and they all come together and reach an unexpected conclusion.
I ran out of energy so ill just end my review here. If you’re fine with dark heavy story, I recommend it.
The story takes place in a poor village in South Korean. In this village is a small Christian church which a lot of the villagers visit, to pray and hope for a better afterlife. You as the audience focus the conflict between the main protagonist and this church. The main protagonist is for me the most unlikeable character of all. He is an aggressive alcoholic who beats up his daughter and his wife as often as he can while insulting everyone who he is speaking to. The movie sadly doesn’t go into any detail why he ends up being such an asshole, it gives you hardly any background information to any of the characters overall.
Saibi is a very depressing movie. It won’t give any happy moments or a fulfilling feeling. The characters that you root for won’t get their happy ending.
I am not the biggest fan of letting my cheers for the likeable characters getting crushed but this movie creates such a big impact because it is just like a very sad story about the real life and I guess that’s the movies biggest advantage… its proximity to reality. Of course there are some scenes where you ask yourselfe “what?”, or “how?”, but basically the movie resembles a shitty life in some poor south Korean village, as close as you can imagine it. (as a person not living there and only hearing stories)
The reason I gave this movie a 7 was because I didn’t enjoy this movie that much. It has a very slow start and the first half was for me rather boring. I first really started to like this movie after the ending, when I looked back at it and put aside all my subjective feelings about what I wanted to see and how the movie should have been.
The artstyle is probably the point why I thought this movie was boring. In such a depressing reality near movie it is very important to have an atmosphere to engage the audience to the story. The Soundtrack was fine and accomplished that, but the visuals just kept pushing you away from the atmosphere with its shitty cgi looks. I have to say that I have seen worse cgi in anime, but I just can repeat myself by saying that cgi in anime looks just terrible nearly every time.
So overall Saibi is a very depressive movie and definitely not for people who like happy endings. It has a sad atmosphere to it which sadly cannot grip you that much because of its terrible visuals. But despite all its flaws Saibi will definitely be a movie you won’t forget so quickly after finishing it.
The movie is certainly animated, yet all the way through it is difficult to tell if that animation is 2D or 3D. Even upon completing it, I can’t tell for certain if it’s all one way or not. What gave me the impression that the animation was 3D was the very stable proportions the characters carried, along with many nearly robotic movements they had throughout the film. Even with that taken into account, there were many times where the characters felt as if they were literally animated in 2D, just with very good attention to proportions. I’m not one who would complain much about cgi in animated material if it’s done well, and I felt that the cgi was done very well in this movie. However, the animation style in general felt strange with periodic jolts for movement along with some lacking facial expressions and animations. Beyond the characters, the background art is unquestionably hand-drawn throughout the entire film and there is a lot of detail to be seen in those backgrounds.
The music in “The Fake” is barely there to note. There’s the spare music track every twenty-or-so minutes, but none of them are done well enough to recall. The sound effects are decent, but there are periods where it feels as if the entire atmosphere isn’t being presented adequately. Overall, the music does the bare essentials of what I feel it needed to do and didn’t make any attempts to go much beyond that, but that isn’t to say it even intended to. The director may have felt this was the way he should go about with the style of this movie.
Speaking onto that style, the movie is very dialogue heavy, and the animation style being there at all times lends is a somewhat menacing atmosphere. The characters all move visually in slightly off ways, possibly not intentional, but that does add to the dark side of the story. The dialogue is filled with curse words and the main character is one of the heaviest cursers I’ve witnessed in any form of film. He will find a way to insert a curse word into every other sentence, and not only he is the one who talks in this manner. While the main character is surely the worst in that regard, a few other characters will curse plenty along with him.
Bad words isn’t the only thing an innocent viewer might worry about. There are plenty of beatings in “The Fake”, most between interactions involving the main character. Even that doesn’t conclude what people might consider offensive. “The Fake” has a strong opinion on the place of religion in people’s lives, while also including the degradation of the mentally challenged and side topics of near-pedophilia. However, the religious aspect is without a doubt what takes the front seat out of these. The story revolves around a group of depressed and anxious people who are all signing up for a hidden Church a ways out of town. Without digging deeper into the place of the Church in the story, the people are the focal point of examination here. These people face hardships and turn to religion to justify their hardships. The story looks onto these people with a negative perspective, being the main character. He himself isn’t either an intellectual or an upstanding citizen, but he sees these people migrating in this fashion and reacts towards it in a way that is controversial yet understandable.
The movie is very focused on dialogue and character interactions, with but a risky visual design and a sparse soundtrack backing things up on the budget side of things. The directing is done well for the most part, yet those of the western audiences may notice some peculiar directing of dramatic scenes which I would compare to Nicolas Refn’s work in the live-action movie “Only God Forgives”. Directing isn’t essentially a key element required in a dialogue-heavy movie as I see directing as an equal factor in just about every visual medium, so what is mainly left to weigh beyond that is the writing and the concreteness and imagination of the story itself, along with hopefully some depth. The character interactions in “The Fake” were adequate, although many of the characters tended to act in ways that could define them with a quirk. The main character, for example, is forcefully rude for much of the movie, and it never really feels justified or reasonable to the extent he goes with it. The police in the story also tend to act laid-back and weak, almost throwing out a catch-phrase whenever they scratch their heads as they fail to enforce authority. This could just be their personalities, but all of these personalities feel a bit off, and not in an artistic way. While the story does have depth in meanings and interpretations, the overall plot itself isn’t incredibly imaginative or complex.
Saibi (“The Fake”) is a dark tale by the perspective it takes on topics that are controversial, the brutality it presents, and through the way the movie is set in motion and directed. It is unclear of what the director’s intentions were in the visuals and the sounds and if there was limitations in place, but this finished product of the movie creates a desolate and menacing atmosphere in the way it presents itself alone. The director directs the drama that ensues in almost jump-scarey ways by creating these robotic visualizations of its characters, carrying limited facial expression, and randomly exerting them with passionate and furious intent when the time is needed for it. The style is unique for both live-action and animated films. If you can tolerate something that acts in ways you wouldn’t normally condone, while also accepting a style that not many visual entertainment carry alongside it, then I would recommend “The Fake” for the experience and for some interesting perspective. To watch this and enjoy it, at least to some extent, you will be expected to be more accepting and willing for variety – that variety in “The Fake” being seen visually and in its storytelling.
22: Dwaeji-ui Wang
MAL Score: 6.74
After his business goes bankrupt, 30-something Kyung-Min (Oh Jung-Se) kills his wife impulsively. Hiding his anger, he seeks out his former middle school classmate Jong-Suk (Yang Ik-June). Jong-Suk now works as a ghostwriter for an autobiography, but he dreams of writing his own novel. For the first time in 15 years, they meet. Kyung-Min and Jong-Suk both hide their own current situations and begin to talk about their middle school days.
At their middle school, they were classified by their wealth and grades. Kyung-Min and Jong-Suk were at the bottom. They were called pigs. They were bullied by a ruling class called dogs. When they were called pigs, they got angry but couldn’t do anything against the dogs. Then a king of pigs appears—Chul (Kim Hye-Na). Kyung-Min and Jong-Suk became to rely on Chul-Yi.
Now, leading Jong-Suk to their middle school grounds, Kyung-Min discloses the shocking truth to Jong-Suk of what happened 15 years ago.
(Source: Asian Media Wiki)
“The King of Pigs” is a South Korean CGI feature with highly inconsistent production values, but in all honesty, that’s not something that I actually hold against it. It doesn’t seek to be a glossy anime-style production, so it mostly avoids the inherent pitfalls to the approach suffered from works like the recent “Berserk” films. If anything, the aesthetic is more along the lines of animated art house successes such as “Waltz with Bashir,” or even the rotoscoped Linklater films (albeit with far less technical care and certainly weaker scripts to build upon). I tried hard to justify “Pigs'” content for the duration of the film, as there are occasional flourishes which did appeal to me, but at a certain point, it just becomes an exhausting and monotonous drag.
The film opens with a static shot of a freshly strangled woman, her murderous husband serving as one half of its thematic focus. The other lead is then introduced as an unsuccessful ghostwriter, venting his frustrations through the seemingly routine emotional and physical abuse of his girlfriend. Things only go downhill from there, too. After the former calls upon his similarly abject childhood friend for the first time since their first year of middle school, they recall the traumatizing events that we’re led to believe shaped the course of their lives. There’s no real message to any of the film aside from the fact that people are awful by nature and that’s that. The bullying the young men experience is increasingly cruel and difficult to watch, and like everything else in the film, is as such for the sake of being cruel and difficult to watch.
I think that the most irreconcilable turn the film makes is its apparent and absolute exoneration of the evils both men would later perpetuate on the grounds of their soiled childhoods. In this regard, the film veers from being merely un-enjoyable and celebratory in its grimness into territory which is nothing short of morally irresponsible. Violence begets violence, thus effectively removing any responsibility from the destructive men themselves. In school, the boys rally around a third figure, one who lashes back at their tormentors in ways which grow increasingly gruesome as the running time wears on. In case you haven’t yet caught on, that really is the entire modus operandi at play here. I understand that such things are widely open to interpretation, but I would argue that the film’s treatment of this backlash is one which not only condones but celebrates the notion of harsh retributive violence.
As I stated, I wanted for a long time (far longer than it deserved) to like this movie, to find something which would justify all of my stated misgivings. Unfortunately, it didn’t want to give me much to work with on that quest. There is simply nothing about the story that feels particularly necessary. I think it’s important to reinforce just how much this movie revels in its own ugliness. It stops trying to do much of anything else pretty early on.
Admittedly, there are a few well-devised plot twists and turns, jumping back and forth chronologically as it does between the aforementioned childhood recollections and scenes of the two men drinking and then wandering the same locations as adults. It’s not an incompetent film, merely a wildly misguided one whose lofty and undeserved self-assurance permeates most every frame. The closing moment alone instantly became one of the most heavy-handed and indulgent bull**** turns I’ve ever seen a movie take, and let it be known that I have a remarkably high tolerance for heavy-handed and indulgent bull**** movies. Is it art? Yeah, sure, whatever, I don’t care, but I certainly don’t think it’s particularly good or worthwhile art. I regret giving it the benefit of a doubt for even a minute, as well as allowing it to occupy my evening. It’s pretty rare that I see something and feel compelled to so immediately broadcast my distaste for it, but it’s also pretty rare that I see films as all-around horrid as “The King of Pigs.”
touched the “it’s violent, so it’s deep” genre.
But first of all I have to say, that I don’t see this movie as a bulliying film,
but for what it wants to be at the end of the day:
A Film that wants to be vile, in the edgiest way possible,
by saying things, a hundred other movies said before,
in higher Quality.
So, for anyone who wants to see “Dwaejiui Wang”, I recommend
to watch “The 120 Days of Sodom” and the 134 other movies
doing that stuff better, in which this movie gloriously failed.
21: Kuro no Su: Chronus
Japanese: 黒の栖 -Chronus-
MAL Score: 6.82
For as long as he can remember, Makoto Nakazono has had the power to see grim reapers watching people shortly before their deaths and escorting their souls to heaven. He realized long ago that nobody would believe him if he talked about his ability. Since there is nothing he can do to alter people’s fates, he tries his best to pretend that he does not see anything out of the ordinary.
This all changes when a reaper at Makoto’s high school speaks to him and questions him why he never interferes. After learning that the reaper is there for his best friend, Hazuki Horiuchi, Makoto starts to wonder if he can defer her grim fate, even if only for a little while.
If two people are meant for each other, it doesn’t mean they have to be together immediately or as soon as possible, but they will, eventually. Loving the wrong person doesn’t mean you’re stupid. It means that the person does not appreciate your love. One can not truly experience the beauty of love without enduring the pain that comes along with it once it is lost.
As a romance fan, I can say that this is a great series that I’ve watched in a while. Even though the series is quite short, with only a mere duration of 25 minutes, the character development plays its role with an outstanding performance. It’s not your typical cliché story either, even though I didn’t expect much from the movie at first. But, what I get to experience is the truest feeling of satisfaction.
A story about a high school student named Makoto Nakazono who could see the Grim Reaper or people who take the lives of others. He saw many people whose lives had been taken around him. His abilities kinda make him an outcast since he can see these creepy ‘black entities’ all-around people. Thus, he decided to shut himself up until the black entities’ next target was none other than his lovely childhood friend. Now, the story of an adventure to save the one and only childhood friend shall begin. Where it is a story full of hardships to seek one true love.
Animation and Art
The art and animation for this series are ordinary and pretty typical. Honestly, it’s not that worse.
The ending was quite catchy, but it wasn’t that memorable. Also, this anime doesn’t have ops. But the ending is not that bad. Better check it out once you have finished the anime.
My favorite part of the movie. I simply love it. The character development of the characters in this movie has transcended to a realm beyond disbelief. It wasn’t easy to push the change of one character without it looking rather forced. But this movie alone has made it seem like it is as easy as stealing candy from a baby. Although it doesn’t manage to save its face value entirely, you do need to give it some credit for its achievement in developing its character.
In all honesty, I love its story. It has a great storyline and good character development, along with a few flaws. It was quite a fun ride. Although the animation does kinda bother me a bit, the story and pace are more than enough to make up for it.
First off, I loved how the first half or so basically resembled Boogiepop Phantom or Serial Experiments Lain in terms of presentation in order to represent the main’s powers regarding the supernatural. I love that sort of cryptic direction when it’s done well, and Chronus pulls it off in a way that can be a bit heavy, but not to the point that I can’t see what’s going on. Said presentation disappears in the second half when the story goes more traditional and kind of action-y, but it’s still kept visually interesting through the free-flowing animation and colorful visuals. Movement was pretty fluid and it delivered on visual intensity whenever it needed to. In short, this thing is pretty damn interesting, visual-wise. But is said visual style being applied to something worthy of it?
Well, I think the story is pretty damn cool. A kid grows up with the ability to see soul-stealers, but he doesn’t do anything about it because he doesn’t see the point. But when said soul-stealers go after his female friend/crush, he realizes he has to take action. In essence, it’s a romance anime just like Harmonie was. However, this romance is between a girl who is about to die and a dude who’ll brave different dimensions and scythe-wielding specters in order to save her.
In short, it’s a romance anime where cool stuff actually happens rather than one where you just blab about said cool stuff like you’re in a typical VN adaptation and proceed to do nothing but weakly tie it together with the most basic of plot elements. When you tie it all in with the awesome visual style and a pretty damn cool ambiguous ending to the thing that leaves me wanting more, you know you’ve got something worth watching.
Yeah, this looks to be my favorite of the Anime Mirai stuff this year. Unless A-1 gained talent just for their contribution or something.
One day, he is suddenly interrogated by one of the “black entities,” Akira Seno: “Will you get in our way?”
But Makoto replies with an air of resignation, “There’s nothing I can do anyway, so I won’t.”
At that moment, Makoto didn’t notice the threatening shadow approaching his childhood friend Hazuki…
When I read this, I thought it was just going to be another Bleach rip off, what I wasn’t expecting was that I would really enjoy this short movie and watch it multiple times.
Have you ever wondered what it would be like to see Grim Reapers? Well in Kuro No Sumika – Chronus – it does just this, what would it feel like to see your loved ones die, when you can’t help it by seeing Grim Reapers,
Now onto the Review:
This is my first Review be nice.
The reason I’m giving the art such a low number is because I’ve seen Art style like this in multiple movies and it’s getting old, but what can you do?
The story was very interesting but like I said I thought it was going to be another Bleach like story.
But they turned it around by him not being able to actually attack the Grim Reapers, all he could do is talk to them.
The sound was amazing, everything was in Sync, The voice acting was very outstanding I actually thought I was there in the movie.
The Character Makoto Nakazono was a very out going and depressing type Character.
Their isn’t really any Character Development because it’s 26 minutes long, but I still liked his Character.
I really enjoyed this movie, I was on the edge of my seat the whole time and no Anime movie has done that for years.
Overall I really liked this Short Movie, and I would recommend it to anyone.
Also it may be very sad for you at times, I teared up once and that’s it.
Thanks for reading my Review, and Enjoy the movie 🙂
20: Wata no Kuni Hoshi
English: Fantasy of a Kitten
MAL Score: 6.86
After two-month-old kitten Chibi-neko is abandoned by her former owners, she is found by 18-year-old Tokio. Although his mother is allergic to cats and has a great fear of them, she agrees to let him keep the kitten because she fears he is becoming too withdrawn after failing his university entrance exams. Chibi-neko soon falls in love with Tokio.
In her own mind, Chibi-neko is a small human who speaks in human words, although people only ever seem to hear her meow, and she believes that all humans were once kittens like her. A stray cat tells Chibi-neko of a paradise called Cottonland, where dreams can come true.
The story seemed like one that you would see in an old cartoon from the 90’s or 80’s. It’s not a riveting plot. It doesn’t have any odd twists. It’s just an average plot. but it didn’t need anything big.
You can tell that this movie is pure old school anime. it has the same style as Harlock and the rose of Versailles. Every one has 70’s hair and wear a lot of sweat shirts. It’s pure nostalgia. The animation was amazingly smooth. Simple things like the wind blowing through their hair looked great. The character designs for the cats were too cute, Raphael the Persian looked so fluffy and soft. it’s a nostalgic joy.
since this movie was made in the 80’s, it has synthesized music and even an engrish music bit in the middle. I enjoyed it.
The characters were kind of bland, I have to admit. The father was silly, tokio was kind, the mother was old fashioned. There wasn’t much to them. It’s not terrible, it’s just typical.
I loved this movie to death. It had me going “awww” all through it. It’s just a silly sweet little movie.
Over all, I would have loved to have seen this movie as a child and it’s on the top of “shows I want to show my children” list.
The story begins with an abandoned humanoid kitten, Chibi-Nekko, who is subsequently scooped up on a rainy day by an 18-year-old rōnin, Tokio, who has fallen on hard times because of his inability to pass the entrance exams, in order to get into university. His mother has a phobia of cats, which she refers to as an allergy, but it is apparent throughout the film it is more of a deathly fear. Despite that, she allows Tokio to keep Chibi-Nekko because she is worried about his mental health and taking care of Chibi-Nekko brightens his mood.
*A rōnin refers to a student in Japan that has failed to enter a school at the next level. Rōnin was originally derived from the Meiji era term that means a ‘masterless samurai.’ Rōnin became reinterpreted in modern day Japan as a term for wandering students because they have no leader to serve. It’s seen as somewhat of a shameful or derogatory term because wandering samurai in the Meiji era were required to commit seppuku, suicide by disembowelment, upon the loss of their master. That, in and of itself, adds a bleak connotation to the title. Other examples of rōnin in anime are: Keitarō Urashima from Love Hina, Hideki Motosuwa from Chobits, and Yūsaku Godai from Maison Ikkoku.
It is never clearly stated whether humans see the cats as actual cats or anthropomorphized cat people. Tokio’s family treats Chibi-Nekko like a normal domesticated cat, but the Cat Maniac appears to have a homoerotic attraction for Raphael, a white-haired bishōnen cat. This makes it confusing on what stance to take when Chibi-Nekko falls in love with Tokio. It seems like they can’t verbally communicate but maybe this whole film is a metaphor for adolescent men and women, who are so socially divided that they have difficulty communicating with each other.
Chibi-Nekko believes that all cats grow up to become humans. Tokio falls in love with a beautiful young woman, named Mitsuko, and after that, Chibi-Nekko is desperate to become a human girl. Raphael informs her that it is impossible for a cat to become human and proceeds to tell her of a mystical paradise, called Cottonland, where dreams can come true.
Chibi-Nekko runs away from home in search of Cottonland but cannot find Raphael. Instead, she runs into a scruffy cat named Buchi-Nekko Suzuki and they drift around in search of the ever elusive Cottonland. After a fruitless pursuit, Chibi-Nekko ends up near Tokio’s house and his mother is finally able to overcome her fear of cats.
The emotional catharsis of this film was feeble and the journey with Chibi and Buchi-Nekko was the weakest part of the whole movie! And ultimately, an unsatisfying conclusion! It’s sad because I was initially invested in the these characters… that may be in part because of the unique concept but the delivery just didn’t drive it home for me.
I read a few complaints online about the age difference between Tokio and Chibi-Nekko, but I don’t think it was creepy at all because Chibi-Nekko’s feelings for Tokio are unrequited. Younger women get crushes on older guys all the time, it’s a normal part of growing up for many women in their adolescence. While it doesn’t necessarily cast a favorable light on shōjo manga, there’s a large sub-genre that consists of a certain female fantasy—younger girls being comforted by older men.
This comes in all varieties, from a woman in her ‘20s being attracted to a man in his ‘50s or ‘60s: an example of this is Ristorante Paradiso. Or there are a few female mangaka that have written stories like Usagi Drop or Kodomo no Jikan, relatively more controversial and risqué. I don’t believe that the vantage points of these stories are told to promote pedophilia or child grooming, more so, it is easier to convey a characters’ trauma and selfishness through a child’s eyes because the audience is less likely to harshly criticize the character. Many people are often so mentally regressed through childhood trauma that they are unable to see themselves as anything other than a ‘child.’
This is mirrored in Usagi Drop with the scene involving Rin’s mother, Masako Yoshii, an adult that is incapable of responsibility outside of her artistic career and must be constantly nurtured by her boyfriend to stay afloat. Despite being written as a 5-year-old at the beginning of the series, Rin Kaga is obviously meant to represent someone who is much older. The same can be said about Rin Kokonoe in Kodomo no Jikan, if you ignore the gross fanservice, she is written to act like a broken woman rather than a child.
Another example of the nurturing fantasy, is in Moyoco Anno’s Kantoku Fuyuki Todoki (EN: Insufficient Direction). This manga is a biographical gag manga about Moyoco’s life being married to Hideaki Anno and, in it, she refers to [Hideaki] as the ‘Director’ and herself as the ‘Baby.’ Even going so far as to portray herself as an infant with a pacifier. This isn’t because she’s promoting pedophilia but, more so, showing a need to be babied by her husband.
There definitely are instances where young children in anime are fetishized but there are other examples in which child-like characters is meant to convey a sense of vulnerability to the audience. Wata no Kuni Hoshi is an exemplar of this shōjo trope, Yumiko Ōshima’s story is meant to be one of pure childish exuberance.
The movie really pulls the stops with the seiyū, especially in regards to their *bishōnen characters. Notable performances include:
*Bishōnen is slang for pretty boy.
• Miina Tominaga as Chibi-Nekko, she is also know for voicing:
1) Karin Aoi, the lead heroine of DNA²
2) Maam, the lead heroine of Dragon Quest: Dai no Daibōken
3) Ritsu Sōma, Fruits Basket
4) Clare Barbland, the lead heroine of Ginga Hyōryū Vifam
5) Lin, the lead heroine of Hokuto no Ken 2
6) Noa Izumi, the lead heroine of Patlabor
7) Persia Hayami, the lead heroine in Mahō no Yōsei Persia
*Hilarious because Chibi-Nekko is identified as a PERSIAN cat at the beginning of the film!
• Bin Shimada as Tokio Suwano
—Broly, from Dragon Ball Z
• Keiko Han as Mitsuko
1) La Andromeda Promethium II, the lead heroine of Queen Millennia
2) Luna and Queen Beryl, Sailor Moon
3) Annerose von Grünewald, Ginga Eiyū Densetsu
4) Lalah Sune, Mobile Suit Gundam
5) Saori Kido, Saint Seiya
• Kaneta Shiozawa as Neko Mania
1) Ninzaburō Shiratori, Detective Conan
2) Devimon, Digimon Adventure
3) Emperor Neo, Fushigi no Umi no Nadia
4) Paul von Oberstein, Ginga Eiyū Densetsu
5) Larva, Kyūketsuhime Miyu
6) Mū Aries, Saint Seiya
7) Balrog, Street Fighter II V and Street Fighter II: The Animated Movie
8) D, the protagonist of Vampire Hunter D
9) Shadi, Yū-Gi-Ō!
• Nachi Nozawa as Raphael
1) Jin Munakata, Ace wo Nerae!
2) Deimos, the protagonist of Deimos no Hanayome
3) Masumi Hayami, Glass no Kamen
4) Alexander Anderson, Hellsing
5) Cobra, the protagonist of Space Cobra
6) Hans Axel von Ferson, Berusaiyu no Bara
Kaneta Shiozawa and Nachi Nozawa both had clout in classic anime series as being typecast as beautiful male characters but, tragically, both of them passed away. Kaneta Shiozawa died of a cerebral contusion on May 9th, 2000 and Nachi Nozawa died from lung cancer on October 30th, 2010. They were both great talents in the industry.
The director, Shin’ichi Tsuji, is relatively obscure online. The most that I could dig up on his discography, other than from his work on Wata no Kuni Hoshi were credits on a couple of Scooby-Doo movies, key animation on Superman: The Animated Series, as well as him being listed as staff on Tenchi Muyō: Midsummer’s Eve and Gekijōban Jungle Taitei (EN: Jungle Emperor Leo) but it was unclear what his position was in those films. Tsuji is sparsely credited for anything on internet databases.
It’s not surprising because his directing on Wata no Kuni Hoshi isn’t bad, but the pacing is abysmal. You would think that the premise of a surreal film about a cat who believes she’s a human girl would be engaging—despite that, the story is dragged out languidly, causing any casual viewer to immediately disengage. The still-frame visuals were gorgeous but every other aspect of the visual presentation was an absolute slog fest. I give Wata no Kuni Hoshi a 5/10.
Little kitten is adopted by a depressed adult student who can’t get his life together. And yet, his mother (who has one of the most over-exaggerated cat ‘allergies’ in existence) thinks that he may regain his spark by taking care of this cat. And so, all sort of cute little misadventures ensue, as the kitten gets mixed up in all sorts of mischief.
Except, as I mentioned, the creepy part. Which is, the little kitten is a young girl in a dress. Or at least, she thinks she is. And that she will grow up to be a human! This is truly the meaning of ‘anthropomorphism’, as she engages in all sorts of human behavior and actions. But, of course, everyone else sees her as just a cat.
If you can get past that…well, then you’re left with a lazy, meandering, and largely meaningless story. Feh.
MAL Score: 6.95
In the future, Utopia has finally been achieved thanks to medical nanotechnology and a powerful ethic of social welfare and mutual consideration. This perfect world isn’t that perfect though, and three young girls stand up to totalitarian kindness and super-medicine by attempting suicide via starvation. It doesn’t work, but one of the girls—Tuan Kirie—grows up to be a member of the World Health Organization. As a crisis threatens the harmony of the new world, Tuan rediscovers another member of her suicide pact, and together they must help save the planet…from itself.
(Source: Viz Media)
There’s lots of philosophical themes in the movie, many of which go nowhere and aren’t really explored beyond talking about them.
It’s great material if you’re an over thinker and actual like sitting on your ass for two hours while boring characters read textbooks to you.
Note that the rest of the review can contain spoilers.
-Presentation (Visuals & Sound).
I was actually kind of surprised at how they seamlessly connect the CGI and the hand drawn characters at some points.
It was good to see some CGI that didn’t just appear awkward.
Of course the CGI still sticks out at points, but at other times I found myself questioning if the character in front of me was hand drawn or a model.
It can look a bit cheap the way they just spin the camera around the characters when nothing other visually interesting is happening on screen, but when it want’s to look good it looks really good.
I heard that EGOIST is the theme song performer, which makes sense because there is only one memorable song in the entire movie, the others would fit into any generic Science fiction story, or any generic action scene.
I didn’t actually notice that much music in the Movie.
-Story & Characters.
Harmony is a movie that tries way too hard too seem deep and meaningful by essentially quoting philosophy textbooks and telling some of the story through flashbacks and heavy internal monologues.
Every character in the movie exist either to infodump the MC and the viewer or to be infodumped to by other characters, which immediately after they either disappear from the movie and aren’t brought back again or die.
The story itself is nothing new, a “utopian future”, in which everyone is in strict control of the government, this seems to be a rising trend in current settings.
And you’re supposed to question if it is right to control people if they’re happy and such.
The plot is almost exclusively told through dull infodumps in dialogue scenes, flashbacks and internal monologues.
There is a little attempted symbolism but it’s mostly so blatant that I question why its even there.
Despite the constant infodumping and terminology, very little actually happens on screen in this movie, and everything is resolved quite hastily at the very end.
The movie tried very hard to be deep, but was scared that if they didn’t tell the viewer absolutely everything they might not understand the movie.
If you have seen a movie in forever you already know all the possible “twists” it could throw your way already.
There were no interesting characters in the entire movie, the closest we get to that is our main character’s friend Miach, appears throughout the movie in flashbacks, her character is that she is 15, very edgy and has a lesbian relationship with Tuan, the main character.
Speaking of Tuan, she has very little personality and mostly works as the eyes, or rather the ears for the viewer.
The most interesting thing about her character is that she’s kind of good at fighting with guns.
She almost seems to be stuck in some kind of a video game dialogue tree, where if a character presents a plot point or an unconnected philosophical theme she can only say
“tell me more” “tell me more”.
Every single other character exists to either infodump or die.
Forget character development, even establishing basic quirks was too much for this movie.
And I wouldn’t complain so much about the characters if the story was halfway decent, or even interestingly told, but it’s not.
I don’t hate the movie despite the way this review might sound like, it was just extremely boring and told almost only though exposition.
Especially the characters were dull.
The visuals were actually pretty good and there’s one song that I actually liked, but that isn’t even close to redeeming this movie.
I can’t really even recommend Harmony as a popcorn flick, it has far too few action scenes for that.
You honestly miss nothing by skipping this one.
Update: Post-review thoughts.
After making this review I noticed it was directed by Michael Arias, a non-Japanese person working in the anime industry.
This made me interested the other movie he directed, Tekkon Kinkreet which is a much better movie and I would recommend it over this one.
I do like this Arias as a director, but he was clearly held back by the source material here.
Speaking of the source material, something I forgot to mention is that some things in this movie can actually be explained by just saying “because it looks cool”.
Why is everything pink?
Why is there a random sunflower farm in the middle of the desert?
why do people dress weirdly in the future?
It’s not a bad thing to include cool stuff in your movie of course, but here it also doesn’t really add to the themes or the story either.
I have to admit that Harmony give us an interesting concept of a futuristic world. In Harmony, humans has advanced to the level that they have defeated disease and aging. A system called ‘Watch Me’ also guide humans to have a perfect healthy life and follow the social ethics (well, you’ll see more feature of this system by watching the movie). The only minus of this ‘Watch Me’ is your life can be watched by the government.
Life with no disease and death is amazing right? It’s heaven. Well, for most peole that is. Being watched and trapped by system made Miach, a friend of Tuan Kirie(our protagnist), felt that she lost her identity and freedom. Finally, Miach along with Kirie and one of her friend decided to commit suicide. Tuan was saved, but Miach was reported dead.
13 years later, Tuan becomes Inspector of Spiral (watched from Indonesian subtitle, don’t really know the name in English, well, some kind of top world organization that manage world order or something). While being off duty and once again back in Japan, a sudden mass suicide incident that robbed thousands of humans life happened. How could this incident happen in a supposedly perfect society? Is there a connection between this incident and Miach’s suicide incident? Once again, Tuan will have to face her buried past and put an end to it.
I have to remind the watcher that this movie has many complex dialogues and the pace is rather slow. That aside, this movie brings us an interesting world and questions what does it mean to be human and explores a complex mind of a human in an interesting way. The movie also managed to serve a mysterious atmosphere that might please people who loves a mystery sci-fi films.
Harmony mostly explore the character of Tuan Kirie, our main protagonist. The movie is seen from Tuan’s perspective, and there are a lot of monologues. We rarely get a clear picture of other characters except for one. Tuan’s way of thinking and mental conflict is presented well as we can see from her monologues and flashback.
Something that could be praised from Harmony is that the movie managed to give a complex and interesting characterization of Miach from Tuan’s flashback and monologues. We see how complex Miach’s logic is from her old conversation with Tuan. The movie also built the background of Miach rather well and we can see why Miach developed that strange logic.
Art & Sound (8/10 & 7/10)
I usually don’t pay much attention to the animation/art and sound so I’ll keep this short. I like the characters design and the shape of the futuristic world. Eventhough sometimes the people on the anime sometimes replaced with CG animation, the movie still looks very good. The BGM managed to build a mysterious atmosphere along the film, but unfortunately there are almost no music that builds an intense situation. Oh, and if you’re a fan of Sawashiro Miyuki you’re very welcome to watch this show.
Seeing the score of Harmony movie is 6.96 on MAL made me doubt the quality of the movie. Even so I tried to watch it and before I knew it I was glued in front of the screen. I’d say my enjoyment is 7.5/10. Could be higher but I’m not really fond of the ending haha.
Overall, 8/10. This movie has flaws and people have different opinions. Still, I hope my review would be helpful to you.
I honestly don’t know how to even start this. Harmony is the second in a series of [unrelated] films based on the works of Japanese science-fiction writer, Satoshi Itoh (Also known as Project Itoh). This particular piece hones in on the life of Tuan Kirie several years after she attempts suicide alongside two of her friends, Miach and Cian. Harmony is set in a world ruled by technology — where nanomachines are implanted in children at birth in order to “preserve” their lives under the pretenses of health and safety. Miach is one of the very few who detests this world. So much so that she manages to coerce Tuan and Cian into taking their lives alongside her in an effort to demonstrate true free-will. However, Tuan and Cian ultimately fail the attempt and time continues to tick forward without Miach.
But not for long.
After being dismissed from active duty as a peacekeeper/investigator for the new government, Tuan returns home to Japan — a nation she has grown to despise since the passing of her best friend. Upon her arrival back at home, she meets up with Cian, who seems to have made a pretty decent life for herself. She has a job, does volunteer work, and she’s staying happy (Though that last part is a given considering the new, augmented world basically forces you into happiness). This is where things take off. Tuan and Cian go out to dinner at a restaurant near Cian’s place, where she brutally stabs herself to death in front of Tuan and the rest of the restaurant. It is then revealed that Cian is not the only civilian to abruptly commit suicide, but that the death toll has climbed high into the thousands. Now, keep in mind, this is all set in a world taking every possible precaution to limit death. In fact, death is so seldom in this utopia that most people go their entire lives without witnessing it. After investigating the issue further, Tuan starts to uncover a trail of shadows that all wind up tying back to Miach. Eventually, Tuan begins to question whether or not her old friend is actually dead.
I’m going to cut myself off from detailing any more of the plot here. Harmony is able to pack so much into it that I would probably be able to write a twenty-page thesis paper on the damn thing. But, the thing is, that is exactly what makes the film so alluring. Even though so much expository information is constantly being thrown at you, the pacing of the film is somehow able to take that and wind it down, never moving too fast for the audience to comprehend. The exposition (Which is extremely prevalent in a series of flashbacks and monologues that slowly zoom in on Tuan’s face) goes on to take up the vast majority of the film. There is not one point in Harmony where you stop learning about the characters or the world they live in. It’s a sort of snowball effect. Initially, all of the background information is simply just character-detailing of Miach and how she was the sole, beautiful mind in a sea of robotized humans. Miach becomes a sort of a philosopher and figurehead for revolution to Tuan and Cian. Each and every flashback illustrates this almost flawlessly.
There is not a single moment of joy in Harmony. Each and every scene is packed to the brim with an encroaching darkness that consumes the tone of the film and directly opposes the idea of the displayed “Utopia”. This new world, which is supposed to be the complete vision of perfection, never seems even relatively close to that.
On a thematic level, Harmony surpasses almost everything else I’ve seen. This is one of the most philosophic movies of the last several decades. Flashback after flashback — Harmony literally bombards you with ideas that make you question the progression of society, science, the human subconscious, sexuality, and everything else from every side of every spectrum. In fact, Harmony makes you question so much that even the idea of happiness becomes clouded. Halfway through, I found myself asking, “What does it even mean to actually be happy?” Almost all of this stems from the mind of Miach, who goes on to be a tragic symbol of diminishing free-will in a world that has forgotten what it means to be alive.
Another interesting thing about harmony is that even though the story is one of the most descriptive, developed ones in animated film, it remains entirely composed and organized the whole time. The plot moves in a straight line and never even thinks about deviating from its path. The EVEN MORE interesting part is how the art of the film directly contradicts the linearity of the story and moves in an unpredictable, sporadic pattern. Bouncing back and forth between 2D and 3D, Harmony’s spontaneity keeps our minds active and focused on how truly twisted the world we’re seeing is. It’s less of a visual experience and more of an aid to storytelling. Don’t get me wrong, the animation is absolutely stunning, but that isn’t what’s important. We’re supposed to be questioning reality in this film. The art just serves as another means of making us do that.
While the visuals remain enchanting, the true allure of Harmony lies in the relationship between Tuan and Miach. Starting off as just friends to the viewer, it quickly becomes apparent that the two are so much more than that. And that isn’t me just saying, “Oh, they’re totally in love and stuff too” It’s me saying that these two characters only exist because of one another. For Tuan, Miach is the rock that keeps her grounded and questioning the world around her. She is a symbol of freedom and beauty that can’t be paralleled by anything else. For Miach, Tuan is a sort of “saving grace” in a world that has forsaken her. She is the first person to listen to her innermost thoughts and actually understand them. The two work off of each other to the point where, without their connection, there wouldn’t be any movie in the first place. The great thing is, this is all enforced through phenomenal chemistry between Monica Rial and Jamie Marchi (Yes, I watched the dub. Bite me.)
I’m going to be frank here — this is the best performance of Monica Rial’s career. And considering she’s been in a good six million different shows by now, that’s saying a lot. To put it in Hollywood terms, this would be her Oscar role. I’ve loved Rial as an actress for a long time, but her performance as Miach literally brought the character to life. Miach felt real. She wasn’t just some cute, overly-intellectual girl dancing across the screen anymore — she was human. Rial wasn’t the only one showing off her acting chops, though. Both Marchi and Brittney Karbowski got a chance to shine in this as well. I haven’t [yet] heard the Japanese-dubbed version of this film, but Jamie Marchi fit the image of Tuan perfectly. I honestly couldn’t imagine the character being voiced by anyone else after having watched the film. Karbowski, on the other hand…well I just have a crush on her so I’m going to rave about her performance no matter what she does. No, but really, Cian’s voice was spot-on as well. Her suicide scene contained some of the most immersive, jaw-dropping acting I’ve heard in quite a while. That being said, all three main actors combined to form a cast that was nothing short of phenomenal. I have to give props to Christopher Bevins as well for his excellent ADR direction of the film. Bevins was really able to bring out the best of each actress.
Harmony isn’t like other animated movies. It’s sporadic, terrifying, and filled with a burning sense of dread. At the same time, though, it’s thought-provoking, meticulous, and important. There is just so much that can be taken from this film. It’s a textbook example of Shakespeare’s image of tragedy. Miach and Tuan’s relationship is one of the most endearing ones I have ever encountered. The only thing that could distract viewers from the near perfection of Harmony is the film’s tendency to become overly-wordy at parts. But even that can be overlooked when you take into account just how much of an impact the film makes as a whole.
Immensely philosophical and beautifully animated, Harmony dives into a plethora of societal themes that deeply parallel and satirize every day human life. Focusing just as much on setting the stage of its thought-provoking utopia as exploring the story of a young girl’s twisted image of the world, Harmony raises many questions on the ideas of free will, morality, and much more. The film’s pitch darkness is laced with a silence that goes on to create a truly unsettling, yet overall astonishing experience backed by powerful acting from Monica Rial and Jamie Marchi.
18: Mahou Shoujo Madoka★Magica: Concept Movie
English: Puella Magi Madoka Magica Concept Movie
Japanese: 魔法少女まどか★マギカ コンセプトムービー
MAL Score: 7.13
A short four-minute concept film that served as a surprise unveil at Studio SHAFT’s 40th anniversary event in Winter 2015, Madogatari. The concept movie is the core of a new Madoka Magica project, and serves as its trailer. The second short was later screened in Osaka, with the difference being a replacement of several imageboard segments.
If you’re going in here to figure out what the plot of the next Madoka movie and/or TV series will be, you probably won’t have much luck. But it definitely does its job at making you excited for whatever the hell the next entry will be.
Apparently I can’t write a short review for a pretty short video, so I have to figure out how to fill the space with some non-spoiler speculation:
-Mami Tomoe has been a not-that-influential character within the previous entires in the series. Compared to the other four magical girls, she’s the least important one. However, her somewhat-brief moment of spotlight in The Rebellion was absolutely fantastic and one of the better scenes in recent anime history. The concept movie seems to me like it’s hinting that Mami will have a much bigger role to play, possibly literally.
-I’m assuming that a great deal of this won’t bear any resemblance to the final product, but the ballet dancing Madoka was great imagery and I really hope they stick with that theme at least in part. Though not sure if they should go full-on Swan Lake Loose Adaptation like the series did with Faust and The Rebellion did with Paradise Lost.
So, yeah. It’s a cool video, and you should watch it if you want a tantalizing glimpse of what Madoka 4 may or may not actually be like.
This is a short review for a short anime. There isn’t much else to be said. I think it is supposed to be based after Rebellion. Also seeing Madoka in that dress is kind of refreshing. I honestly didn’t understand what was going on but it could easily be sumed up as, a giant statue falls from the sky and Sayaka is a witch…
How much are these people expecting me to write about a 4 minute film!?
In just around four minutes, the concept movie is able to get its themes and points across clearly. It calls back to what happened in Rebellion as well as contain a lot of symbolism and hype. It’s definitely a good opener to SHAFT’s future projects during that time.
The animation and artwork are just as great, perhaps more focused since it only needs to be four minutes. The voice performances are fantastic and the OST still hits.
If you have the chance, you should see this concept film yourself. It’s only four minutes and it’ll be worth it.
17: Dead Leaves
English: Dead Leaves
Japanese: デッド リーブス
MAL Score: 7.22
Pandy and Retro awaken naked on Earth with no recollection of their past. They embark on a devastating crime spree in search of food, clothing and transportation, but are captured by authorities and sent to the infamous lunar penitentiary named Dead Leaves. While incarcerated, they quickly discover that Dead Leaves is also a top-secret cloning facility, occupied by villainous guards and deformed genetic experiments. Ultra-manic chaos and hyper-violent bedlam ensue as they organize a prison break with the aid of their fellow mutant inmates.
The story for Dead Leaves is as nutty as you might expect. A couple find themselves naked and without memories and turn to a crime spree in which they are eventually caught and sent the moon’s prison called Dead Leaves for life. They soon manage to free themselves and the other prisoners and find themselves in a life or death struggle to escape, and to recover their own memories that seem to be related with the prison. It’s not incredibly deep but the action is furious and nonstop. Don’t blink or let your attention wander because you’re bound to miss something and become confused.
A word of warning for anyone who is going to watch this. This one is not for the small kids. The humor is perverse, highly sexual, graphic and gory. The body count and level of death is shockingly high. I have railed against violent humor before in the past but Dead Leaves is one in which this actually works. Dismemberment has never been so much fun or humorous.
Characters are a real strong point as this movie features some of the most enjoyable I have seen to date. The two protagonists are Pandy and Retro. They are both drawn in a very bizarre style like everything else in the show. The first thing that will probably strike you is why does Retro have a TV for a head? There is good chemistry between the pair and I can’t see anyone not liking these two from the start. There is a plethora of supporting characters, many of them are quite hilarious. Most noticeably “Dick Drill” and the Doctor. I’m not sure if it’s even possible for me to describe these two to someone who hasn’t seen this anime. Just watch it, if you don’t think they are hilarious then check your pulse because you’re dead.
The animation, well it’s unique. I would say that it is a masterpiece really but I can’t really justify it. It is so odd and so bizarre that it is sure to not appeal to everyone. I thought it was perfect because it set the tone so well for both the story and the characters personalities. It all really fits together well. Like I said before those who have seen Furi Kuri are going to find a lot of similarities here. The acting is also top notch. With so many crazy personalities the cast does a wonderful job of bringing out all these quirky and insane people and giving them life.
I really recommend this movie highly to everyone. If you like zany, graphic, and wild comedy then this show is definitely for you. FLCL fans should also check this out without fail. I would also recommend another series called Trava which is very similar in art style and story pacing. Dead Leaves isn’t for everyone, but I think everyone should give it at least a try.
Anime: Dead Leaves is a 55 minute OAV that was created by Imaitoonz (who also did work on the 3D mechanical designs on Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann), was produced by Production IG (known for their work on Azumanga Daioh and the Ghost in the Shell series), and directed by Hiroyuki Imaishi (who also directed Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann and FLCL). It was released in Japan on January 17th, 2004, and was licensed Stateside by Manga Entertainment, who released it on September 28th, 2004.
Story: Retro, a guy with a TV screen for a head, and Pandy, a girl with a panda-esque mutation mark over her eye, wake up naked on Earth with no idea of who they are or how they got there. They promptly decide to go on a crime spree to get food, clothes, and transportation in Tokyo, and are promptly captured and sentenced to time on the lunar prison known as Dead Leaves. Little do they know what awaits them there.
There is but one thing you need to know abotu this OAV: It is cracktastic. No other word for it. Utterly cracktastic. And when you look at the director’s previous works, it’s not all that surprising.
There is no real overarching plot and character development is minimal. The OAV moves along very quickly from sequence to sequence, sprinkled liberally with sex and mayhem and violence and insanity.
It’s a hell of an OAV to watch, and definitely worth it, in my opinion. Just don’t expect much in this department, and just let the crazy wash over you.
WARNING: Very crude (one character has a drill for a dick), sexual acts/references, over the top violence, and some nudity.
Art: The art on this is absolutely insane. And I love it. The entire OAV is animated smoothly, which makes the freneticness of the entire thing that much more awesome to watch. There are very sharp contrasts in this, along with striking color choices, which I absolutely love. The character designs also score major points for originality; all the designs are just as crazy as Retro, Pandy, and drill-dick guy’s.
Music: Nothing that stood out too much here.
Voice Actors: I watched this dubbed, which is pretty unusual for me. The VA work on this was excellent, and I’m amazed at their ability to keep up with the speed of the lines that was required.
Dub: Not covered here, as I don’t have much to compare it to.
Length: Seeing as I am convinced this is crack in a pure, distilled form, this was about all that I could take; any longer, and my brain would have exploded, any shorter, and it wouldn’t have made a bit of sense.
Overall: Cracktastic. Definitely worth a watch, if you can stand a lack of sense, and crudeness.
Voice Actors: 9/10
Overall: 40/50; 80% (B)
In terms of art design the film has a highly stylized look that is fabulous to look at, it’s very sharp full of bright block colours that help the animation stand out greatly and when the animation moves hold on to your seat because this film just moves like a crazy carnival ride. The animation is completely consistent and never lets up and there are points when so many things are happening at once while the screen moves from place to place you may up incapacitated.
The sound in the film is very nice, the choice of music is very upbeat and helps amplify the chaotic action and while it’s not really memorable in any kind of way it works for the film itself. The characters in this film are cool, Retro is just a madman who knows how take care of things in a crazy fashion and the fact that he’s voiced by Kappei Yamaguchi just adds to the character too. Panda is hot chick who is packing heat when the action starts, she seems to be calm in every situation she’s in and is almost the opposite of Retro outside of the battlefield. The villain of the film isn’t half bad and the supporting characters are really funny bunch of people.
To be honest I totally loved Dead Leaves, I thought it was great, while the story wasn’t ever going to be really engaging it had a unique concept behind it and was good for what it was. I recommend this highly for anyone looking for a little epicness in their lives. And lastly if there are any people who have watched Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann should give this a go for sure.
16: Mardock Scramble: The Second Combustion
English: Mardock Scramble: The Second Combustion
Japanese: マルドゥック スクランブル 燃焼
MAL Score: 7.36
Rune Balot is weeping and trying to save both herself and a severely injured Oeufcoque from Shell’s assassin Boiled. Luckily for her, Doctor Easter finally shows up in the Humpty Dumpty – a special militarized vehicle made for protecting those in Welfare cases if their lives are threatened. From there they go to Paradise, where the Scramble 09 technology (and Boiled’s rebirth) was developed. All of the secrets of the past of Mardock City (and possibly its future) are revealed in this riveting second part of the Mardock Scramble series, upping the stakes and making Balot choose between justice for herself or peace within Paradise instead.
(Source: the witch of theatregoing)
Mardock Scramble has always had a bit of a problem with symbolism. Its shtick of characters being named after eggs is probably supposed to tie into rebirth, but it’s so shoddily implemented. It’s as though Ubukata read the first page of ‘Symbolism for Dummies’ but got totally the wrong idea from it, like he read a book on how to chop down a tree with an axe but then stuck the axe up his backside and started to gnaw at the tree trunk. The contrast between how blatant the naming convention comes across is completely at odds with the effort it then goes into making it relevant. In the end it all comes across as incredibly silly.
Or maybe it’s supposed to be silly, what with the first half of the movie being spent largely on Balot swimming nude with a homosexual dolphin while jumping through a sort of cyberspace. What the hell this was supposed to represent was completely lost on my mind, not having taken the requisite amount of hallucinogenic drugs beforehand. If it was meant to be a big fat joke though, it goes against the tone of the movie. Norio Wakamoto being eaten by flying sharks was possibly supposed to be hilarious, but everyone looked so stone faced about the event that I just felt confused. Plus why was Norio was relevant too the story in the first place?
What really kills that first half of the movie is that Oeufcoque is nowhere to be seen. He spends a solid half hour in a vat looking like something I threw up after a kebab. Without him, there’s no direction. Perhaps intentional, given that Balot is effectively aimless without her golden mouse, but considering how capable Mardock Scramble had proven itself to be with regular old symbolism, the idea that it could pull off this level of meta-narrative is hard to swallow. That said, once Oeufcoque dresses back up in that adorable little set of dungarees and starts talking to Balot, I finally saw a glimpse of what kept me watching this franchise in the first place.
And then they went to a casino, and suddenly it becomes an entirely different story. The gambling segment doesn’t tie into Balot’s relationship with Oeufcoque, nor does it do anything to develop her character and put her further on the path to redemption and rebuilding. It’s all supposed to be a battle of wits with other gamblers. My guess is halfway through writing this book, Ubukata got obsessed with gambling tricks and had to include that in everything he was writing at the time.
It’s not even a well-written gambling story. A large part of the appeal in stuff like One Outs or Kaiji is being able to follow the events and understand their strategies. When Tokuchi Toua pretends he’s going to throw a certain kind of breaking ball, you can understand he’s done this to give the batter he’s facing something to latch onto which means he ignores all other signs. Stuff like that, you can follow the reasoning and the strategy. With the roulette table segment that takes up a solid 15-20 minutes of this movie, the entire strategy boils down to “can I correctly calculate how the dealer has thrown the ball into the roulette wheel”. There’s some mind games going on, but the movie does a miserable job of conveying what these mind games are. Combine this with how irrelevant the entire piece is to the overall story, and it feels like a massive waste of time.
This story consists mainly of two parts, in my opinion, one part focuses on what happens after the battle Boiled, where Balot encounters herself at some type of scientific/medical experimentation center and the other part focuses on a mission that takes place in a casino.
I really enjoyed the story, it was intriguing and exciting, however, I believe that it is rather confusing as I still don’t understand why Shell would want to kill Balot and what those memories she found were or if she even found them, or why she doesn’t talk about them. Also, it’s hard to understand how the end up succeeding in their mission at the casino. Maybe this is normal though, as this is just the second movie. It was also more slow paced and calm in comparison to the first movie (excluding the fighting scenes which are gruesome). Furthermore, it had a mysterious aura, especially when the characters visit the casino.
The art was outstanding, just as in the first movie. The backgrounds are very inspiring and the characters interesting. I don’t really understand why Balot has to be naked in so many scenes but I suppose it’s fine. I also really liked how the casino was portrayed, so much so that I almost wished I was there because it was so luxurious.
I found that the sound was fitting to the movie and I enjoyed the ending.
In this movie we are introduced to some more characters, most of them seem to be unrelated to the main plot though. I consider this to be positive as we get closer to the characters by getting to know their surroundings and not only focusing on the plot. We see what influences them, what they feel identify themselves with. There is also development in Balot’s, Oeufcoque’s
and Dr.Easter’s relationship. Moreover, we meet another intelligent animal and a cyborg whom Balot interacts with. Finally there is the ruler spinner at the casino who is a very interesting character in my opinion, even though she doesn’t play any important role.
To sum up, I really enjoyed the movie. I didn’t get to feel any of those dramatic, heart aching moments but it inspired me a lot, wishing I could take a glimpse in that futuristic, mysterious world.
Why is that? Well, Mardock Scramble is a true Tow Ubukata Creation, and it shows..in every god forsaken movie of this trilogy..IT SHOWS!
Tow Ubukata does what he does best: putting random, incoherent and incomprehensible scenes one after another and ACT like he did the deepest screenplay ever, while in reality he did nothing but putting hot trash together.
If you watched the second season of Psycho Pass or the Arise-Series of Ghost In The Shell, both for which Ubukata wrote the screenplay, then you know exactly what to expect from Mardock Scramble: random stupid shit that doesn’t make no sense whatsoever and character-exploration/development retarded as it gets. Plus uninspired and boring scenrey.
Mardock Scramble is yet another example of what a non-talented and horrendous writer Ubukata is.
15: Mardock Scramble: The Third Exhaust
English: Mardock Scramble: The Third Exhaust
Japanese: マルドゥック スクランブル 第3部 排気
MAL Score: 7.43
The final plans to finish Shell off in court have been made by Easter, Balot, and Oeufcoque. But in order to execute those plans, they must set foot into Shell’s domain: the BlueEgg Casino in the center of Mardock City, and find the chip where his memories lie. If they can’t find the chip, their case will be dismissed in court, and their “usefulness” will be gone – resulting in all of their deaths. Will Balot find the chip in time, while still dodging Boiled and his now mad search for her and Oeufcoque?
(Source: the witch of theatregoing)
Spoilers for the review (not the movie): I thought it was absolutely fantastic.
The end, you don’t have to read the rest of my ramblings, watch it and enjoy.
Wait… you actually want to know HOW it’s fantastic. Well ok I guess I can do that.
Mardock Scrambled Eggs doesn’t do too much new in the cyberpunk genre, but that’s okay because what it does do is executed fabulously in all three movies. (Slightly less in the second but we’re not here to talk about that one)
Rune’s inner and outer conflicts come to a head in the final movie, and while the resolution of Rune’s case against Shell might seem too short in terms of crime drama or mystery, it fits the themes of the other movies perfectly. These movies were never really about the case, the case was the driving force behind Rune’s mental trauma and character development, and through the resolution of the case here we see how she’s changed from the first movie.
And again the weight of the action scenes falls on the arguably more main of the two antagonists; Boiled, whose feud with Rune and her shape-shifting AI partner Oeufcoque reaches a satisfying and bombastic conclusion.
The action scenes in these movies are spectacular, but few and far between, this a character focused drama first and an action second, it’s not a movie for people who just want explosions and action all the time, might I suggest Ghost in the Shell: Arise for that.
However, because the action is not happening at all times, it makes the action scenes in this movie stand out due to excellent pacing that never leaves any part of this movie boring and doesn’t make you feel a scene has overstayed it’s welcome.
The voice acting and sound direction is top notch, though as I’m not an expert on these aspects I can’t go into much detail besides two key points.
1. the soundtrack is incredible, it fits every scene so well you barely notice it’s there, it never sticks out but always complements the scene it’s in.
2. Rune’s voice actor is incredible; she gave s such an amazing performance that even without being a native Japanese speaker I could fully understand all the emotion behind each line.
Like the first two movies, Mardock Scramble 3 has some of the best animation I’ve
seen, every shot is near perfection, Easily in my top 10 for best animation, the contrast of colors leads to a drab, dark yet beautiful city.
The characters are all very well crafted and enjoyable to watch, with the standout Oeufcoque stealing the show and reminding me quite a lot of the dynamic between Kino and Hermes in Kino no Tabi.
Rune Balot, the star of the show gets a good share of development and by the end you will feel like she’s actually changed and matured as a person.
The other characters are somewhat of a mixed bag with most at the most filler for the cast, though the resolution of Shell and Boiled’s character arcs were quite good as well.
The ending, while left quite open, also felt very final, the openness really only leading more to the cyberpunk nature of the series where open endings are quite common.
In conclusion, I found the series as a whole to be a very smart, well thought out cyberpunk story, sure it retreads old ground but it has enough unique ideas and style to get past that. I would highly recommend them all to anybody who wants a strong cyberpunk drama in the vain of ghost in the shell.
Like its previous predecessors, the film takes place in a futuristic city called Kamina City. The main character of the series is Rune Ballot, a young girl whom suffers a near fatal fate after a certain incident from the first film. However, she survived with the unlikely help of a man named Dr. Easter while at same time undergoing some transformations that alters her body. What makes her existence fatal now though is the fact that her life is still in danger and every day is painful to live in.
The third film directly continues off from where The Second Combustion left off. The Bluegg Casino gives off a feeling of intensity as our characters ventures deep to discover secrets of the past. The casino game itself balances between a bit of psychological warfare with our main character Rune Ballot. Even though she is no longer human, Rune still looks human in many ways. The casino game itself also twists around in a form of mind games. At one point, characters mentions that the burden of winning can sometimes be even greater than losing.
I do give some praise to the action of the film in being consistent with the full throttle execution. There’s the brief road war and quick movements by our action girl Rune Ballot. However, the scenes were presented in such a fashion that it almost felt like it was over in a flash. On a more psychological side though, we get to witness more scenes revolving around Rune Ballot’s violent visions/flashbacks. Through them, it’s easy to relive those grim moments and realize that she is a character created by tragedy. It can make us feel pity for her because of her circumstances although by now, it should be a bit obvious already especially for those who’ve already seen the first two films. There’s also questions regarding Shell, the man responsible for both Rune’s reanimation and near destruction.
The violence returns as well with bullets being fired, blood being spilled, body parts torn off, and scenes of torture in cases. This is directly displayed by Rune Ballot later on in the film with her anger and hatred. Now it seems like that rage is directed at mistakes in the past as well as towards Shell. The result? Self carelessness and more ruthless decisions with unpredictable outcomes. Surprisingly enough, there’s not a whole bucket load of fan service. Unless you count the violence with blood being splattered as service, the amount of skin being shown on screen is minimal. I guess in a way, the movie tries to wrap up the trilogy up mentally rather than visually. Oh and speaking of mentally…..among other emotions displayed in Mardock Scramble is a lack of compassion. This is usually heard from the tone voices of the antagonists. Then again though, in such a violent world, there’s not much empathy for anyone as much as anything goes.
Artwork wise, I do give praise to the movie’s visual standards. The concept of the cyberpunk world is presented clearly to reflect its theme. More than that though, the visuals gives an aura like background with rich details. Rune Ballot’s design is a fusion of both a girl and cyborg and matches the science fiction idea well. Soundtrack is also decent especially during battle scenes and more of the psychological themes in the beginning. At the same time, we can hear a mixture of emotions and sorrow from Rune’s VA Megumi Hayashibara.
Overall, this film wasn’t earth shattering at all. As the final film of the trilogy, the climax did settle a conclusion but it wasn’t something that made me go “wow, now that was worth waiting for”. No, instead it was more like a feeling of completing the series in order to move on. Why? Because the plot, characters, and themes tied together overall wasn’t explosive or lived up to expectations. Ultimately, this film lands a 6/10 for me. It’s only slightly over an hour long though so there’s not much loss to despair over. What I did lose though were my somewhat high expectations. But if you’re a fan of the Mardock Scramble series, then have a blast at this film to finish off this trilogy.
72 were impressed!
18 didn’t know what they were watching exactly…
10 would like a hand drawn car just once…
Mardock Scramble is a series of serial novels starting in 2003 that have been adapted to a host of different mediums. Three OVA movies were made from 2010 through 2012 “The First Compression”, “The Second Combustion”, and “The Third Exhaust”. For the purposes of my review I’ll be talking about all three movies because they’re only 70 minutes each and function as a single narrative.
Mardock Scramble takes place in a dismal dystopian cyberpunk future. The main character Rune Balot is a young girl who has been chewed up and spit out by the world around her. After Shell Septinos her lover/pimp betrays her to have her burned alive she is saved by a government case worker who saves her with an experimental procedure that grants her the ability to communicate through and manipulate electronics. In exchange for saving her life Rune is asked by the doctor who saved her to help prosecute Shell who’s murdered many other girls before while other forces work to try and assassinate Rune.
Rune partners with another character Oeufcoque who normally appears as a yellow mouse but is a multidimensional shape changing entity that came from another government experiment. With Oeufcoque’s help Rune essentially becomes a super soldier, kills a bunch of people, and then plays blackjack.
Honestly the plot of the story here is a huge mess. Nothing makes much sense and there’s a lot of pointless dialogue about philosophy like this is a Fate series story. The only thing consistent is that everything is eggs. Dr. Easter, Dimsdale Boiled, Egg powers, Egg ships, even Oeufcoque means Eggshell in French. There’s a lot of symbolism and attempts at big ideas but most of the story is so rambling you’re left wondering if there was an issue with translation or if the author really knew what they were even trying to say. Tow Ubukata the original author of the novels has a writing credit on the movies so I assume his voice was maintained in these films. Despite rambling on about Adam and Eve and a bunch of dialogue that doesn’t even read clearly sentence to sentence there is an overarching plot involving Rune, Shell, and Dimsdale Boiled, the previous partner of Oeufcoque. Things happen, there’s a beginning middle and end so that’s good.
The tone and setting of the world leave the viewer in an unusual place. The world the characters live in is an abysmal place where young girls are killed and butchered for parts. Psycho’s keep collections of human fingers grafted onto their own bodies, government case workers “solve cases” by shooting defendants in the head in the parking lot behind the court house, but society is apparently still structured enough that regular cops are shocked by finding out a girl became a prostitute because her father raped her when she was 12? The world didn’t feel lived in or believable and often came across as more comedic than anything.
Despite my gripes there’s a lot to be enjoyed from the films if you want a visual spectacle. The movies have a very unique style with odd angles, use of bloom, and interesting iridescent filters. The action is high octane Devil May Cry meets Kingdom Hearts spectacle and feels like appropriate payoff to all the sitting around you do. While some CG car driving scenes feel like you’re watching a cutscene of Midgar from Final Fantasy 7 (which isn’t necessarily a bad thing) most of the shots in the films are artistic and interesting.
I don’t feel like Mardock Scramble should be heralded as a must watch classic, but the distinctive style and surrealism of the experience will leave a memorable impression on anyone who’s watched it.
MAL Score: 7.43
Death does not have to be the end; one can live again, but only through beating the game posed by the black ball called Gantz.
On his way home to celebrate his younger brother’s birthday, brave and kind-hearted student named Masaru Katou is stabbed to death. He awakes in a small room with a cityscape view in the heart of Tokyo—and he is not alone. To his surprise, it is not the afterlife, but the waiting room for a high stakes game with their lives on the line. Before he has the chance to process the situation, Masaru is handed a gun and teleported into the center of Osaka to carry out one simple task: eliminate any alien on sight.
Accompanied by the aged Yoshikazu Suzuki, the stunning idol Reika Shimohira, and the cold but experienced Jouichirou Nishi, Masaru must overcome his fears in order to survive the game and return home to his waiting brother.
While Gantz O follows the Osaka Arc it makes some big changes, ones you can see the reason for and some you can’t.
Rated at PG12 in Japan, the drug abusing Kyo Hanaki and Rapist Kazuo Kuwabara are absent, understandable.
Less understandable is that most of the Tokyo team are abscent too, it’s faster to say the only ones shown are Kurono, Suzuki, Reika, Nishi & Kato….I’m so sad that Host Samurai was absent.
The movie also incorporates an alternative end to the Oni Arc that starts the film off, which was so awesome it gave me goosebumps.
The CGI is amazing and despite it being a PG12 it is still full of gore.
This adaptation of the Osaka Arc is pretty good, despite the changes and overall it’s a must watch for any Gantz manga fans.
Gantz:O is a CGI adaptation of a manga that was an extremely enjoyable piece of work. The CGI was consistent and beautiful, the fight scenes were amazing, and the makers stayed true to the storyline to an extent, which is excellent as well. The gore was something that I had worried about since this movie is PG12, but it was very vivid for a PG12 rated film, and personally it was satisfying enough for me.
There are some changes to the characters and storyline which were a little disappointing, but to be honest those changes were understandable, and it didn’t ruin the experience at all. Some of the big changes that came to my attention was,
1. The absence of several Tokyo and Osaka team members, including some members who had amazing battle scenes in the manga.
2. Katou’s stance in the arc; in the original, he has already experienced battles against aliens, but in this movie he’s shown to be a newbie, oblivious to the rules and weapons of Gantz.
3. An altertative ending to the Oni alien arc and Osaka arc.
Overall these changes are understandable because this movie is obviously for newcomers as well as fans, and if they had put all the characters in a 96 minute movie Gantz:O would’ve become a extremely rushed movie. Despite having these restrictions, the changes managed to fit in very smooth with the entire atmosphere of the Osaka arc, which is one of the reasons I give this movie such a high rating.
In conclusion Gantz:O is a film that you simply need to watch if you’re a fan of the original work, and even if you aren’t, it’s worth the watch with a solid story, outstanding graphics and fluid fight scenes.
The story makes some drastic changes from the manga, which by themselves wouldn’t make it bad, but together make the Osaka Arc a much simpler and more boring experience (You can feel this in particular during the first half of the movie). The new ending is the only change I think affected the movie positively. Without spoilers, I’d say that while it wouldn’t have had sense in the manga, it makes a perfect fit for the narrative flow of the movie.
I think the most disappointing part of the film was the music. The trailer had this really strong theme going on, but it was absent from the movie except from the credits, and all the music was pretty much the same “dramatic eleventh hour track”.
Anyway, I personally enjoyed the movie, but upon thinking about it for a while, I realized it had some very weak points. I wouldn’t recommend this to anyone who’s never heard of Gantz, but if you want to see the Nurarihyon fight animated, or at the very least have seen some of Gantz and liked it, I say go for it.
13: Mardock Scramble: The First Compression
English: Mardock Scramble: The First Compression
Japanese: マルドゥック スクランブル 圧縮
MAL Score: 7.46
Rune Balot is a down-and-out teen prostitute in Mardock City. One day, she’s picked up by an ambitious casino manager named Shell who gives her everything she could want. Renewed by a false innocence, a false past, and now the false life Shell has given her, Balot feels grateful. However, she can’t help but be curious about why he’s done so much for her, so she does some research about his past on a computer. This turns out to be a mistake which will change her life greatly. When Shell finds out what she’s done, he attempts to burn her to death by blowing up her car.
Due to the high crime rate in Mardock, a new law called “Scramble 09” has given police carte blanche to take extreme and otherwise illegal measures to revive crime witnesses. With this in mind, they allow a professor to bring Balot back from the brink of death by reassembling her entire body with reinforced synthetic fiber. When she finally wakes up, her confused mental state eventually turns toward revenge as Shell is revealed as her killer.
(Source: Nippon Cinema)
The story follows a young Rune Balot, who as a child was raped by her father. Enraged, her brother then proceeds to shoot the father. As her family falls to pieces, Rune grows up as an underage prostitute, and where she is ultimately caught and put in jail. Enter Shell, the main antagonist of this anime, who gets her out, gives her shelter, offers her his love and support… and then proceeds to blow her up.
Severely injured and on the verge of death, she is then rescued by Dr.Easter , who effectively turns her into a sexy Japanese version of Robocop. She is then given the ability to hack electronics, kick ass, and take names. To bring the crimes of Shell to light, she partners up with Oeufcoque, a highly intelligent electronical mouse that can transform, doubling as; her wardrobe, voice collar, gun, knife, shield, radar, emotional support, and love interest. Effectively putting batman’s utility belt to shame.
If you haven’t figured it out by now, yes this anime is rated R-18+, with themes of rape, incest, prostitution, murder, and impending bestiality. To put into perspective how fucked up this anime gets. One of the villains, is a giant tit sack. . . No really. While his boss, Mr. Pussyhands, gives quite a new meaning to the term “pussyslap”, and takes the act of “masturbation” to a whole new level.
One of the things I can say about this anime, is that it is very dark, and takes itself very seriously. You get a feel for Balot’s fear & mistrust of strangers, her loneliness & desperation, and her pain & anguish. As you begin to comprehend the tormented soul of Rune Balot, you start to get an understanding of what this anime is trying to convey.
A ‘balot’ , or ‘balut’, is an underdeveloped duck embryo. It is a representation of the fragility of Rune’s character as well as her torqued innocence. While Oeufcoque (French for egg shell), serves to protect Rune, both physically and mentally.
This dark and gritty concept, question of morals, and beautiful use of symbolism, makes this an anime I would definitely recommend checking out. The animation is a mix of 3d cg, brilliant slow mo, and fast paced action. While the anime takes very serious tones and displays them in a very serious manner. Which is a nice break from all the mindless violence, gore, sex, and nudity often found in other anime.
I hope you enjoyed this review, and as always, thank you for reading.
(P.S. I wonder what the director’s obsession with eggs is all about though. Dr. Easter, Boiled, Scramble, Balot, Oeufcoque, Shell, and Humpty Dumpty. Now all they need is a character named Sunny Side Up)
Story – Very interesting, but suffered from pacing issues. It moved wayyy too fast and didn’t explain what was going on–or why–very well. Then again, some people may like this kind of vagueness that puts the jobs of interpretation and filling in the gaps on the viewer. If they had tacked an extra 20-30 minutes onto it, they could’ve SLOWED THE HELL DOWN and taken their time.
Art – Incredible, clean, and beautiful, except I’m not a fan of the grain layering they used over the duration of the film. It was different, but not my taste. Watching it on an HD-TV greatly reduces its gravity, so I recommend that.
Sound – Great sound effects, excellent voice acting (both English and Japanese). But there wasn’t a lot of music–and when there was, it didn’t stand out very much. Their take on “Amazing Grace” at the end sounded really nice, but wasn’t appropriate whatsoever for the mood of the ending.
Characters – The two mains were very well-written and interesting. Balot’s backstory was painted very vividly. Her actions are very appropriate for what she’s been through. Oeufcocque has an intriguingly quirky personality, which is interesting to see when watching them interact. The rest of the characters, however, are sadly boring and underdeveloped–even Dr. Easter and Shell (the villain). Hopefully this changes over the course of the next two films.
All in all, it’s definitely a fun watch worthy of multiple viewings both for enjoyment, and to help yourself understand the story. It’s graphic and brutally honest, depicting the world as it truly is. Choice scenes of a nude Balot that would normally be taken as fanservice simply cannot be seen as such–given the situations in which they occur: her being used by men. Looking forward to the next installment. Too bad it was so short.
*Be advised: The sex scenes and nudity are censored in R1 DVD release, and a few scenes were inexplicably removed. Just a word of warning if you’re looking to buy the North American version.
It’s hard to talk about Mardock Scramble without giving out some plot setting spoilers. People might say that descriptions of the plot aren’t spoilers at all, but it does seem a shame to hurt one of the few things this movie actually does very well. The exposition, often a clunky and tedious part of a movie, was revealed in a gradual course of exchanges between the female lead, Balot, and her mouse sidekick, Eufcoque. Asides from revealing how the world works and what the extents of Balot’s and Eufcoque’s powers are, it also builds up the relationship between the two in one of the most strangely charming duos I’ve ever seen. Balot doesn’t exactly think straight, hardly surprising given her past, and abuses her powers for various reasons. Eufcoque doesn’t think like a human, seeing as he’s a mouse and everything, but his mind works off a logic that hauls in Balot and builds a trust between the two. Using the other as a springboard for further exploration, the movie excels in the exchanges between the two that make up about half of the movie.
I did say that this was one of the things that it actually did well, which implies that the movie performed less favourable in other areas. This movie has a lot of grand ideas about how great it is and how it’s exploring themes of depression and sexual desires, but most of it is done in such awful fashion that parts of the movie come out as unintentional humour. There’s a group of underground surgeons towards the end of the movie with a taste for attaching parts of human bodies to themselves. One guy has eyes all over his body, which was probably supposed to be intimidating but really just looked stupid. There was another guy with breasts sewn all over his body like that ghost from the Fat Stocking episode of Panty and Stocking. The rest all equally looked like characters Apocalypse Zero. As for the disturbingly literal nickname of their leader, Pussyhands, the less said the better.
These characters were probably supposed to symbolise humans living out their sexual fantasies, but like much of the rest of the foreshadowing and imagery, it mainly resulted with scenes in various degrees of clunky or stupid. A bunch of the characters are given names related to eggs, such as Boiled and Shell, probably meant to symbolise birth of a new life or whatever, but that was rather eye-roll inducing, like calling the violent villain in your show Vicious or something. There were some more standard problems, such as lots of cryptic conversations that failed to grab the interest, or overbearing level of madness they gave characters that didn’t fit well into the story. Oh, and playing Amazing Grace as your ending song was pretty eye-rolling too.
Not all of the symbolism failed, to be fair, the relationship between Balot and Eufcoque being the best example. Heck, anything good about this movie came about when it was just those two together. The best scene in the movie was one where Balot asked Eufcoque to love her, with the golden mouse’s stuttered retort being that he wasn’t capable of loving as a mouse and that “I can’t just turn into a male human in order to love you”. The scene, asides from revealing a slightly messed up side to Balot’s mind, also shook Eufcoque and revealed we wasn’t quite as assured and logically perfect as earlier scenes had you believe.
(As an aside, I kept expecting Balot to turn Eufcoque into a dildo. That wasn’t just a dirty mind at play in a highly sexualised anime. Balot kept going on about how she just wanted someone to love her, with the only way she knew love in her depraved life was through sex, but Eufcoque kept pointing out that he was just a vessel that was incapable of love and that he was just a tool to pretend she was being loved. See where I’m going with this? Contrast this to our good friend Mr.Pussyhands, who quite literally has sex with his hand. I would not be that surprised if Eufcoque becomes masturbation aid at some point in the later movies)
Again, this movie only ever good when it was just interactions between the main character and her mouse sidekick, the rest of the movie being dumb, sometimes painfully so. Thankfully a lot of the movie was just interactions between the main two, which is enough to keep my interest to watch the later installments. But it’s not enough for me to recommend it either.
12: Re:Zero kara Hajimeru Isekai Seikatsu – Hyouketsu no Kizuna
English: Re:ZERO -Starting Life in Another World- The Frozen Bond
MAL Score: 7.60
Covered in ice and snow, Elior Forest is the home to dangerous magical beasts and 50 elves frozen in ice. One day, the great spirit Puck helps a young girl break out of her ice prison. Her name is Emilia, a half-elf born with silver hair, long ears, and amethyst eyes—features that resemble the evil Witch who destroyed half the world long ago.
Shunned by society because of her appearance, Emilia dwells in the forest with Puck as her sole companion and family. Burdened with a sin of destruction she does not remember committing, she spends her days trying to find a way to help her frozen kin. But when the great spirit Melakuera, the Arbitrator of the world, finds Emilia, her right to stay alive is brought into question. Will the bonds of ice she formed with Puck prove to be the warm thread that defies fate?
-Natsuki Subaru (2016)
The OVA shows Emilia’s past with Puck. It showed how Emilia was treated by villagers and how SHE treated them in return. It also showed her daily life, how she earned her livelihood before she was selected as a candidate for Lugunica’s queen, her relationship with Puck, her first meeting with Puck, a little about Elior forest (her home), her powers, etc. There are also some decent (but short) fighting scenes involving Emilia and Puck plus some badass Emilia scenes in which she gets really angry. And after the credits, we have a lovely Emilia and Subaru interaction to lighten up the mood.
Btw this OVA only gave a glimpse of her past. There were still many unanswered questions (like frozen statues of people and how Emilia was frozen herself) and unnamed foes who are yet to appear and will hopefully be covered in season 2. We also get to see a little glimpse of season 2; that is, a little tease on Petelgeuse’s backstory, an unknown voice at the start and Emilia’s relatives.
The art was just as good (if not better) as in season 1 so nothing to complain about.
Loved the OST. They really amplified the emotions in certain scenes. And the credit song was lovely
I’ll just be straightforward. Emilia is beyond selfless. If anything, Subaru wasn’t wrong when he called her EMT (angel), EMF (fairy) or EMM (goddess). We already know from season 1 how most people in Lugunica hated her because she looked like witch of envy. Here we get to see Emilia’s willingness to become friends with the villagers but sadly they treat her like a disease (so she hid her face mostly). They ran away whenever she went to the village and called her a witch except one old man who treated her kindly. Unfortunately, the villagers and even the kind old man betrayed her by confessing her location to some slave traders. But even so, she still cared more about those villagers than herself and tried to keep them safe disregarding her own safety. Even after she saved a family from monsters, they still insulted her and were scared of her instead of showing gratitude.
Puck’s relationship with Emilia was also highlighted here. His caring attitude towards her and willingness to protect her from any sort of harm (like a spirit named Melakuera who considered Emilia a threat due to her likeness to witch of envy) was admirable. We also get to see Puck’s original form in this OVA which was not shown completely in season 1.
Really enjoyed this OVA. Can’t wait for season 2 tbh. I am really excited!
What else is there to say? Give it a watch! It’s really good and quite emotional! I couldn’t stop myself from crying.
It will fill you with a lot of emotions from cute moments to extremely sadness moments. the fights are also pretty enjoyable but obviously not like a fight genre anime. The sound in my opinion are one of the best parts of this masterpiece because they are always in good time with the moment and the environment. And the ending is something heartbreaking.
You should watch also the trailer that is well done.
I hope i helped you
The backstory of Emilia has been very enlightening. Although we did not get the full story of Melakuera as I’ve heard from the LN readers, I think his current presentation is pretty solid even if we aren’t informed of how he became what he is now. However, there were some pacing issues and overall I enjoyed this less than the Memory Snow OVA.
If you’re an EMT fan, I would still recommend to give this a watch!
I liked how the story is conveyed by Emilia’s repeated actions. It shows her daily life in the village and as if everything she does is normal. The story jumps back and forth in time as we are shown flashbacks to Emilia’s past and her dormant powers, which was hinted in the anime as well. The pacing has some issues though – overall I think they fit too much content in 80 min. Some parts went far longer than it should have, and some were over in an instant.
I like the details of the flame animations and how Puck’s ability was portrayed/animated. The spirits were also nicely animated – they are shown to be sentient and react to the people around them. The detail of how the ice became blood red by draining the blood out of the living creature sent shivers down my spine – it was so beautiful yet horrific.
I didn’t feel like any sound was out of place, so overall it must have been great.
We’re introduced to the people of the village and how they shun Emilia because she’s an elf of the forest, at the start of the movie. Even with the hood that hides her identity, they could tell that she’s an elf. I liked how the general store manager was portrayed – a caring old man but yet very human (as he is), acting in self-interest and also fearing the Witch.
The Melakuera also makes his appearance, and although his backstory was not shown, we get that he is an ally of justice or at least a counterforce against evil. I liked how he spoke in ancient Japanese, which goes to show that he is pretty old.
Remember I said I liked Emilia’s repeated actions? But I certainly did not enjoy the repeated fights that were basically two monsters blasting powers at each other. It reminds me a lot of Dragon Ball or Digimon. No strategy involved, just pure bruteforce and the power of will/friendship. There was no fun in most of the fights, though we do get character development during then. I think the main problem is the lack of hype and tension building.
One thing I enjoyed – and I’m sure everyone else did – was when Puck let his guard down when he accidentally hurt Emilia’s feelings. Watch it to find out how it went!
Also, I liked the text that flashed between scenes that shows Puck’s and Emilia’s internal monologue. Though we only had like 2 seconds to read 50 Japanese characters, it was sufficient to grasp the keywords of each message.
MAL Score: 7.73
Memories is a compilation of three standalone short films encompassing different genres.
In the far reaches of space, after tracing a distress signal to a large abandoned space station, a pair of engineers—Heintz Beckner and Miguel Costrela—find a derelict mansion and decide to explore on foot. Their investigation reveals a dark secret surrounding the fate of Eva Friedel, a renowned opera singer with a tragic history. Hallucinations soon begin to plague them, and they must fight to retain their sanity in order to escape the station alive.
Hapless lab technician Nobuo Tanaka consumes some pills at his laboratory to cure a cold. Unknown to him, however, the pills are actually experimental drugs that enhance his flatulence to a lethal degree. As the toxic gas escaping him kills everyone in his vicinity, he is ordered by his superiors to retreat to the company headquarters in Tokyo. The journey to the city is made all the more arduous as Nobuo struggles with his deadly odor while the police, military, and foreign adversaries are hot on his trail.
In a fortress city filled to the brim with cannons, a young boy wishes to surpass his father by becoming a revered artillery officer. Despite no proof of an enemy nation, he cannot resist the urge to partake in the daily bombardment routines organized by the city. Whether at school or just before bedtime, he only dreams of someday firing a cannon for the sake of his homeland.
I am going to address every story separately, as I think everything will be clearer this way. I am also going to say my final remarks at the end.
This is the only short of the three that deserves to be called Memories. The atmosphere is done in an incredible way that always leaves the viewer on the edge of his seat, expecting something to happen and creating even more tension in the process. The visual style plays a big part on that and it also is pretty and well-detailed, but visually old.
This short as a whole is incredible, actually, I think that it would have been actually better as a sole and full-length movie, as that way we would have been able to explore this wonderfully tragic story with more time and it wouldn’t have to be paired with the other movies. Needless to say after that, Magnetic Rose is my favorite short of this collection and the best one, by far.
Supposedly, this short was comedy, but no one in the room I watched it laughed. More than that, the story feels unimaginative and the characters are so ridiculously dumb that it makes you wonder how they became scientists of that level. Despite that, I got to say that it is very pretty, albeit a bit old-styled.
This was, for me, a terrible short. I actually was glad that it ended. The quality drop between the two first short is astounding actually. I can’t really recommend it to anyone.
This short is, at least for me, a well-defined criticism to some cultures and elements of our society. In that it is pretty successful, but it doesn’t manage to tell a particularly interesting story in the process.
Its most marking characteristic is its visuals, specially when paired with the awesome soundtrack that accompanies it. I would categorize the visuals as experimental and unique. Also, it is not really possible to explain it, you just got watch it to understand it. Also, it uses a trick similar to the recent Birdman to make it seem as if the movie is just one continuous shot.
Cannon Fodder is experimental and interesting, but it definitely isn’t something everybody would enjoy. I would recommend it to people who enjoy experimental stuff or this style of criticism.
As a collection, Memories fails, its title doesn’t fit, the themes have nothing in common and, overall, it isn’t that good. The only great short it has is Magnetic Rose, that is an incredible sci-fi. Because of that, I can’t recommend it whole-heartedly to anyone. My advice is: watch only the first short and, maybe, give the third one a try if you enjoy that type of stuff; just skip the second one, for your own sake.
To put it in one word, impressive. It boasts some of the most resplendent animation and music that compliments the unnerving tone and setting, along with the script being in the hands of Satoshi Kon. The short chronicles how the Corona, a salvage freighter in deep space comes upon a strange space station after responding to a distress signal. The two engineers of the crew, Heintz and Miguel, enter and discover a luxurious European interior that once belonged to famed opera singer named Eva. As the two engineers further explore they both become engulfed in Eva’s memories through a series of paranormal encounters, with both men each reliving their own memories.
For a ghost story, this is one of the best I’ve ever seen. In a 40-minute duration it delivers on capturing the essence of the anthology title, creating a haunting yet intriguing world of one’s past, and presents a disturbing message of the dangers of living in the past. Eva is a literal representation of that very message and attempts to lure both men into her past, and while some may resist, others might be more willing to fall into the trap, seeing it as an escape to a better place. Magnetic Rose explores love lost and the desperation of a lonely person determined to regain a kind of love so precious, no matter what the cost. This idea is woven masterfully into the plot, making it as thought-provoking as it is terrifying. Kon’s style of storytelling is also present here, blurring the lines between reality and hallucinations and keeping viewers thinking throughout its duration. Fun fact for any film buffs out there: This short also holds references to other sci-fi films such as Alien and 2001: A Space Odyssey with certain scenes, yet never feels cheap or derivative. Magnetic Rose has these familiar elements and makes them feel fresh, a testament to the staff behind this show. The overall story exudes intrigue and ends in a way that answers enough questions to feel satisfying and make sense, yet leaves enough to viewer interpretation to leave its mark.
Satoshi Kon was also behind the art direction and like the story, it’s stunning. The fluid animation, cinematic techniques and overall attention-to-detail make Magnetic Rose a marvel of animation. Considering this came out over 20 years ago by the time I’m writing this, and still looks incredible. The scenes in space alone demonstrate how impressive the show is on a technical scale. Despite looking dated with its art style and not being vibrant or colourful, Magnetic Rose shows that there is more to animation than simple visual look. Meanwhile the sound was composed by Yoko Kanno and is mostly operatic, matching the setting and tone of the tragic story perfectly. Voice acting was great all around with Eva’s voice actress in particular being breathtaking in her role. Her version of “Madame Butterfly” is awe-inspiring, even if you dislike like opera, you will still probably appreciate the piece and the overall music in general with how it complements scenes so effectively. Magnetic Rose excels in so many ways that the only way I could see it have been better is if it were its own stand-alone movie. And on that note, I am very surprised this story has not even been rumoured at all for a potential Hollywood adaptation considering the high potential for a successful anime adaptation. It is the highlight of this anthology and is the part of Memories that you will strongly remember.
Here Memories transitions from haunting beauty to a dark comedy that uses satire to demonstrate how stupid humanity can be. The change of tone and pace can be seen immediately from the start, showing a rather overly cheerful television program with fitting music and colourful art compared to Magnetic Rose. Stink Bomb follows Nobuo Tanaka, a young lab technician of a hospital trying to cure his cold and when trying to find a new cold medicine under development, he takes the wrong pill; the ‘red pill’. But instead of finding enlightenment, this buffoon finding all his fellow employees dead and panicked, rushes to deliver the experimental drug he mistook for cold medication to headquarters in Tokyo. Unbeknownst to Nobuo, his mistake is the cause behind everyone in the hospital dying, with him now spreading death and destruction everywhere he goes without him even knowing. Because of this, Nobuo becomes a target of assassination and kidnapping by the government.
Most people find Stink Bomb easily the worst of the three entries, feeling like a 40-minute long dumb joke that wasn’t funny to begin with, however I feel as though Stink Bomb gets too much negative buzz than it deserves. It’s a light-hearted take on how foolish our species can be when in dire straits ala Kubrick’s Dr. Strangelove, ridiculing such in over-the-top comedic fashion. The idea that a lab technician is so unbelievably stupid is not something that I consider detrimental to the show; his density fits the kind of comedy the show is going for and is the perfect example for how one man can cause such disaster and trigger-happy militants can further the damage with both ease and lack of common sense. Even if you did not find the comedic style to your liking and I myself will admit that I did not find it that hilarious apart from some overexaggerated missiles, it is definitely an entertaining short that I never once found dull.
The animation is the weakest of the three, lacking the technical quality, art direction and sheer unique look of both Magnetic Rose and Cannon Fodder. It also looks the most dated, but still holds up enough to not lessen the experience and contains some of the most action-packed scenes with fluid animation to match. The music is arguably the best part of the short, composed of lively jazz expertly incorporated throughout and is surprisingly appropriate for Stink Bomb’s chaotic style of comedy. Both the animation and sound add to the story’s light-heartedness, and that’s exactly what Stink Bomb strived for. If you come into this looking for some sort of hidden meaning, you will be disappointed. Its intentions are purely to elicit a smile on your face, and for me, it succeeded.
Cannon Fodder is aesthetically the most intriguing of the three shorts, creating a world comparable to a communism dystopia filled with massively-oversized cannons that fire at an “enemy moving city” that is never visually confirmed by the show; clearly an allegory on society. Cannon Fodder is the most literal title this show could have had. Everyone’s life revolves about firing cannons; the men work the cannons, the women make the shells, and the children are taught on the mechanics of firing cannons. Cannon Fodder looks at the life of an average family on an average day in this bleak world. We see the father going through the motions as he loads cannons, only living to work, to the naïve child aspiring to someday be the man who fires these cannons. It’s a dreary 30 minutes that leaves you in a bleak state, having seen how bleak these characters’ lives are and that it won’t change.
Cannon Fodder is certainly not for every anime fan. It’s a short similar to artistic anime like Texhnolyze that are merciless in their depiction of a hopeless world. It’s also a highly political film, with its critique of militarism, socialism and propaganda very noticeable throughout the story. It’s shown the leader of the city is nothing more than a chubby man, yet is portrayed through portraits and such as a fit, powerful leader and worshipped by civilians. An interesting fact: none of the characters are ever given names, another result of living in this kind of world where cannons are valued more than the individuals that work on them. The premise and story of Cannon Fodder is simple and not subtle in the slightest, making it even more frustrating to some viewers. However, considering how political first-world countries have gotten in recent years, I feel like this short is worth the 30 minutes it takes to watch.
The artstyle for Cannon Fodder is ugly, no doubt about it, and it complements the dark, depressing vibe the world has. The palette of greys and browns gives the city a decaying, decrepit look that mirrors the people belonging to it. Steampunk elements blend into the city seamlessly, with cannons sticking out of every building present. The people themselves don’t even look human, with sickly grey skin and sunken eyes look more like they can straight out of a nightmare than anything resembling the kind of world we live in. From a technical perspective, the attention to detail is perhaps the best of the three shorts, but what really makes Cannon Fodder’s animation so great is Otomo’s direction. The entire short is one continuous sequence without a single cut. Can you recall an anime you’ve seen that has no cuts in its entirety? Otomo utilizes an array of cinematic techniques and transitions that blend in with the story and animated scenes so well that they may go unnoticed to the average viewer, and that is in my opinion the sign of a master of cinematography. Cannon Fodder is quite possibly one of the greatest one-takes in the history of cinema in general and like Akira, is a testament to Otomo’s ability as a director.
In conclusion, Memories is not your typical anthology series; it does not have any overarching narrative that ties the three entries together. But what Memories does contain is a unique collection of short stories that individually showcase some of best animation the industry had at the time and it still hold up. But saying that its value only resides in the animation undermines other great aspects of Cannon Fodder and Stink Bomb such as directing, atmosphere, themes, etc., and nearly everything about Magnetic Rose. None of these films should be ignored and are all worth the time it takes to experience each of these wonderful pieces of animation.
The first episode “Magnetic Rose”: I felt that it reflected the title pretty well- the theme definitely correlates to memories. This was probably the most impressive in terms of story and art- the only complaint is that this would’ve been ideal if it was turned into a full-length movie instead of being thrown into a 3 episode movie. But that’s just me. The story is basically about two space dudes from the future exploring the interior of what was once home of a famous opera singer of the century (our generation).
The second episode “Stink Bomb”: I’m not sure how it relates to the title at all. This was the most humorous and light-hearted of the three. It’s about a chemist who takes a pill right before he sleeps and then he wakes up with everyone around him dead- it sounds very dark and depressing but they managed to keep it surprisingly mellow somehow believe it or not. I enjoyed this one a lot as well.
The third and final episode “Cannon Fodder”: This felt a bit underwhelming in comparison to the first two, no offense. In terms of visuals this was probably the most unique- it’s very rough and gritty but it can be very charming. Its about something comparable to the Industrial Revolution and the war around the early 1900s. I always kind of waited to see the little boy the majority of the time as he felt to be the main character but sadly he doesn’t get as much screen time as i hope he would. The only thing that corresponds to memories is the little boy saluting a general from the past and he dreams of eventually becoming one instead of being a cannon launcher like his father.
Overall: It’s pretty good- but if i were you i’d watch it all in reverse (episode 3 first, episode 2 second then episode 1 last). It’d probably be more satisfying than if you did it in order. There isn’t a chronological order to it anyway it’s just three different movies with some connection ..with i guess the theme of memories tucked inside.
10: Mind Game
Japanese: マインド ゲーム
MAL Score: 7.79
After seeing her jump onto a subway at the last second and getting her ankle crushed between the doors, Nishi reconnects with his high school sweetheart, Myon. Nishi is still very much in love with Myon, but is shocked to learn that she is engaged to another man. Nishi agrees to meet Myon’s fiancé at her family’s Yakitori restaurant, but members of the Yakuza storm the joint and murder Nishi when he tries to stop them from raping Myon.
Nishi, now dead, wakes up and meets a constantly shapeshifting god, who mocks him for dying. The god tells Nishi to walk into a portal and disappear from existence, which Nishi rejects, choosing instead to sprint past the god and reanimate. With a new outlook on life and knowledge of how the Yakuza are going to attack him, Nishi kills one of the Yakuza with his own gun, fleeing in a stolen car with Myon and her sister.
Acclaimed director Masaaki Yuasa’s debut film, Mind Game’s constantly shifting visuals tell a story about living one’s life without regrets that is unlike any other.
Produced by one of the most innovative animation studios around, Mind Game takes an abstract approach to a theme that a lot of mainstream anime has been promoting to viewers for decades: Don’t give up, live life.
You see it everywhere, from Naruto to Mobile Suit Gundam to Ghibli. Anime is always reminding you of how short life is; encouraging you to stop watching it and go outside. Stop being self-conscious, act freely, chase your dreams, jump into the melting pot of humanity!
Mind Game’s humorous approach is through a breezy kind of animation style that isn’t afraid to become inconsistent at random moments. The most striking moments are when characters’ faces are replaced by actual real life actors, which gives a surreal charm to the whole thing. A reason why I keep thinking of obscure quirky live action Japanese films, like Survive Style Five+, instead of other anime, because that’s where Mind Game’s sensibilities lie.
It is both aware and ignorant of the fact that it’s animated, taking full advantage of the medium to show us wonderfully insane visuals, and ignoring it to use a narrative template that is underused in anime-land which is obsessed with plot driving the characters rather than the other way around, and whenever it is the other way around its labelled as ‘slice of life’.
Not so much slice of life in Mind Game as it is a gigantic bite. We follow Nishi as he hooks up with a childhood sweetheart, we laugh at a violently ugly encounter in a restaurant, we grin stupidly at a loony action scene and spend the long remainder of the film captivated by a couple humans stripped bare, their hearts naked for all to see, and with that freedom enforced on them they’re truly able to live life like they never were before.
The enforced freedom ultimately has to be taken away, which results in the film’s powerful climax which is basically a race for life. A metaphorical dash across the debris of 21st century living; a furious rush that takes everything in the characters to achieve a future full of life and possibilities.
Mind Game itself shows the future and possibilities of anime. Another accomplishment for Studio 4C.
Despite the title, this isn’t a movie that will mess with your head or challenge you to think. It has a very simple message, one that was clearly stated: Live Life. The characters go on a journey that, while being fantastic, ended up feeling like a hollow victory come the climax. You can either blame that on the "reset button" ending or on the fact they chose to send us on acid trips over fleshing out the story.
The characters themselves were very much the same as the story. Decent, with some depth, but you could feel as though there was a wealth more to be explored that simply wasn’t for one reason or another. Again, more time was given to the exploration of the art.
But what about the art? This movie is probably best known for its atypical style and beautifully executed animation. The problem though is its not a matter of execution, its a matter of content. Yes, the animation was expertly done, but the animation itself was a Wal-Mart bargain bin of good, bad, and indistinguishable. In this department, it really relies on the person watching and their preferences. Personally, I found it to be distracting and in some cases, absurd.
Basically it should come to this. If you’ve seen the movie or if you’re thinking of watching it, ask yourself this one question…"Did I enjoy it?" . No, don’t ask yourself if you ‘understood everything’ or if you ‘appreciated the art’…ask yourself if you truly and honestly ‘enjoyed’ it.
Personally, its not a movie I’ll watch again nor a movie I’ll forget. It wasn’t terrible, but it wasn’t that one amazing movie that its hyped to be either. It falls in the middle of the road.
It was fair. Decent. Average. 6 out of 10.
Story: It’s a story that you cannot take seriously. There are essentially 3 different scenes in it. All three of them are beautifully executed. The pacing in this movie is also very nice, the few slow scenes are beautifully shown, there’s never a single moment of tediousness.
Art: " I think that Japanese animation fans today don’t necessarily demand something that’s so polished. You can throw different styles at them and they can still usually enjoy it." -Masaaki Yuasa (director) The art in this is so spaced out, to call it anime would be to really push the border of what anime is and can be. This free, wild form is both beautiful and also sometimes detrimental. There are some scenes that are not beautifully executed, they seem dull and boring, almost lifeless. Whereas others are beautiful, and some are quite hilarious. One of the best scenes involves God. However the best scene, is a love scene. It is worth it to watch the entire anime JUST for this one 3-4 minute scene. I cannot describe to you how beautiful this one scene was to me, you really need to see it for yourself.
Sound: The voice actors are magnificent, Niishi is especially great, he’s energetic and sounds absolutely crazy half the time. The sound effects are also amazing and the background music incredible as well.
Character: To fully get the characters, to fully understand all the relations and dreams of each character this anime needs to be watched at least twice. Almost every character has a detailed story and aspirations. Niishi’s dream of being a Manga artist leads to a cute little story. The characters at all time seem human, they seem pliable and three-dimensional. This aspect is so beautifully shown, it’s one of the many highlights of this series.
I was never let-down during this entire movie. However I would not recommend it to everyone. If you don’t have an open mind about what you believe anime is, then don’t watch this. This anime is incredibly unique. To use the word "weird" would be an insult to this. I have never seen anything like this, it’s an anime that really does a magnificent job at being a beautiful piece of art.
9: xxxHOLiC Movie: Manatsu no Yoru no Yume
English: xxxHOLiC The Movie: A Midsummer Night’s Dream
Japanese: 劇場版 ×××HOLiC 真夏ノ夜ノ夢
MAL Score: 7.95
Summer break has arrived, but while his other classmates are out having fun, Kimihiro Watanuki continues to work as compensation for the eccentric Yuuko in her shop. With the spirits and supernatural phenomena that bother him lessening, he pays his dues by cleaning, cooking, and doing whatever else the apparently lazy Yuuko needs.
Watanuki, however, gets involved in a new predicament when Yuuko receives a mysterious invitation to a mansion whose owner seeks Yuuko’s wish-granting ability. When he, Yuuko, and his classmate Shizuka Doumeki make their way to the peculiar residence, they meet others who were summoned by the same strange invitation. All of them are collectors of various unique items, drawn there by the chance to expand their collections. But as the collectors begin to disappear one by one, Watanuki and his companions must solve the mystery and put the case to rest, or find themselves in risk of danger.
It still scared me though. That little girl is the spawn of evil and I wish I never have to see her in a CLAMP crossover series. Speaking of crossover, I got a laugh out of the shameless plug at the end. I don’t wanna give out any spoilers, so I’ll just say it has something to do with a CLAMP crossover movie.
The animation really improved for this one with regards to details. The backgrounds were more intricate, the color palette had more variety and the characters were given more realistic bodies. Their heads were notably smaller though.
The music was really great too. There was an assortment of tracks that were nicely made and perfect for the theme of the movie. I also like the ending theme by Suga Shikao.
It really was a good decision to watch the movie as a supplement to the series. I strongly recommend watching this movie to other xxxHOLic fans – you will not be disappointed.
It starts with Yuko receiving an invitation stating that her ‘collection’ is incomplete and is inviting her to an auction at his house. This story is something we’ve all probably seen before. Main character gets invited to creepy old house, weird things happen, they solve a mystery, the end. Even with a common plot, it’s still a good story. They keep a fair amount of mystery and there are scenes that make your heart skip a beat.
The characters aren’t something new. We have the same main characters, Yuko, Doumeki and Watanuki. One thing worth mentioning is the crossover scene at the end. This movie crosses over with Tsubasa Chronicle: Tori Kago no Kuni no Himegimi.
The sound is something I would expect out of a Final Fantasy game. It has that mysterious tune that helps build up the climax and is perfect for this movie’s theme. Once again, Shikao Suga does a great job with the ending song.
The animation is, as expected of Production I.G., superb. The animation is smooth, their movements precise and has great quality. The details were really improved. I liked the art in the xxxHOLIC series, but this is a step up from that. You will also notice that Watanuki is also more flexible, thus being able to perform more of his weird movements, which we all enjoy.
Story — If anything made me hesitate about seeing this movie, it was the story. For most movies based off of an anime series, their plots generally leave something to be desired. For the most part, they tend to feel like one long episode rather than an actual movie. However, xxxHOLiC’s movie actually felt like a movie. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but regardless, this movie delivers on plot. The mystery and intrigue build and build, occasionally relieved by humour (mostly on Watanuki’s part) or heightened by some frightening scenes. Near the end, the story got a little confusing, but that’s quite typical of xxxHOLiC and CLAMP in general, so it wasn’t all that unexpected.
What was interesting, though, was that this movie explains the meaning of the series’ title. This hasn’t even been done in the manga to my knowledge, so I do wonder if this is something CLAMP has confirmed themselves or if it was made specifically by the movie’s director. Still, when it was revealed, it made sense and sheds more light on the manga’s themes, which I really enjoyed.
Art — If you know CLAMP’s latest art style, you’ll know that they’re in a tall and lanky character phase. This movie carries over that style into its art and it takes a bit to get used to – all too often, the heads seem to small, the limbs too long and rubbery, etc. But putting that aside, the art is fabulous. The colours and rich and vibrant, and the scenery in the house is especially something to be marvelled at. On my DVD, I even took a few minutes to go over the slides of the background art so I could get a closer look at them (because you only get a few seconds to see them in the actual movie!)
Sound — As usual, the seiyuu did excellent jobs. Even the English voice actors didn’t do too badly (the only exception, for me, was Mokona’s English voice but Mokona has such a small role in this movie that it wasn’t too detracting). The music was wonderfully done, as well, thanks to the work of Saitou Tsuneyoshi. There are some very good tracks on the OST, and they really contribute to the atmosphere and feeling of the movie – everything from building mystery and wonder to Yuuko’s jazzy, fun theme at the end. And maybe just as importantly, silence is used effectively to build suspense at the freakiest of moments.
Character — I really suggest knowing what xxxHOLiC is about before going into this movie because you really need to understand who the characters are. I showed this movie to my non-otaku friends and I had to explain who everyone was and what they did before they could understand it. And because this is a movie and not the actual series, there isn’t too much character development here (since most of that seems to be reserved for the actual anime and manga), which is where it may fall short. This movie is more plot-driven than character-driven, after all. The original characters for this movie were average – not particularly memorable but not bad, either.
Enjoyment & Overall — Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this movie and have watched it multiple times and intend to watch it more in the future. If you’re familiar with xxxHOLiC, it stands on its own well enough, but you might also want to check out the Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicles movie, too (if you buy the DVD, they come as a set), since like the original series, they intertwine and events that occur in one movie affect what happens in the other. Still, I thought the xxxHOLiC movie did a much better job in terms of presentation and plot, but that’ll lead us into a completely different review. In any case, I’d definitely recommend this movie to any xxxHOLiC fan.
8: Kotonoha no Niwa
English: The Garden of Words
MAL Score: 7.96
On a rainy morning in Tokyo, Takao Akizuki, an aspiring shoemaker, decides to skip class to sketch designs in a beautiful garden. This is where he meets Yukari Yukino, a beautiful yet mysterious woman, for the very first time. Offering to make her new shoes, Takao continues to meet with Yukari throughout the rainy season, and without even realizing it, the two are able to alleviate the worries hidden in their hearts just by being with each other. However, their personal struggles have not disappeared completely, and as the end of the rainy season approaches, their relationship will be put to the test.
Does his latest animation achieve that same ideal? In some ways, it does. But if you are awaiting another great story, this is not what you are looking for.
“The Garden of Words” is a short film depicting the romance and relationship between a 15-year-old boy and 27-year-old woman. Takao, the boy, feels lost and alienated by his uncertain future and passion for shoemaking. Concurrently, Yukino feels lost in an adult society where she feels she does not belong.
It’s a premise that holds potential for a compelling story. How many films deal with such an age gap, especially with an older female? Very few. Sadly, this film doesn’t realize its inherent potential. Rarely are their feelings for each other actually explored. It simply is. They meet, they talk, they fall in love. And why? The relationship seems platonic until a sudden confession at the very end. While the romance is at least passable, one can’t shake off the feeling that more could have been done with the two. It all just feels a bit contrived.
Then again, one could always ask: with only 46 minutes of film, isn’t it too much to expect developed characters and relationships? Maybe. But Shinkai was not constrained. He could have simply increased the length and have made the story exponentially better as a result.
Where “The Garden of Words” makes up for its romance, perhaps, is in its dialogue. What makes the dialogue so intriguing is not what it does, but what it doesn’t do. It is simple, restrained; often limited to ordinary conversations between the characters. It shows more than tells. When Takao’s dreams of being a shoemaker are revealed, it is through watching him sketch feet outside and craft shoes in his room. When it must tell, it relies on introspective monologues and poetic conversation. It gives us the time to think and the time for the atmosphere to establish itself. The modesty of the dialogue captures the monotony of their lives– the change that they experience together.
Or at least that is what the majority of the film accomplishes. What builds as a subtle, heartwarming story regrettably ends as conventional melodrama. Any maturity in the characters is thrown aside in favor of screaming and crying. And, yet again, it relies on Shinkai’s exhausted theme of unrequited love. For once, just once– could he bother to convey the romance differently? It would be a sad thing if a director with so much talent was reduced to being a one-trick-pony. He is capable of more than this. I would like to believe that, anyway.
From a visual perspective, Shinkai’s latest is nothing short of a masterpiece. If you have watched any of his previous works (notably 5 Centimeters Per Second), you will be very much familiar with the gorgeous scenery and eyecandy that accompany them. And is eyecandy ever plentiful here. It is a visual spectacle in every regard, meant to have us immersed in the world. Perhaps too much so, as you might find yourself so stunned by the scenery that any dialogue will sound like little more than background noise.
Numerous animation techniques are employed in the film. The most prominent of which is a depth of field effect, often used but never to the point of being distracting. Lens flare and careful panning are also frequently used to accentuate the scenery. Not a single error (at least noticeably) exists within the animation or artwork, thanks to Shinkai’s meticulous attention to detail. There are times when the artwork looks and feels so authentic that it could very well be mistaken for live-action at a glance. “The Garden of Words” may be the best-looking anime to date. It is something that other animated films will (and should) aspire to, and nothing more could be asked from it visually.
Rain is the primary theme of “The Garden of Words”, both in narrative and aesthetics. In storytelling, rain is often used to represent loneliness. Here instead the rain symbolizes happiness and peace. It succeeds in creating the appropriate atmosphere for the film, ensuring that there is more here to experience than the visuals. It is just as much an experience to feel as it is to gawk at.
The score comprises mostly of piano pieces and ambient noise which serve to further immerse the viewer. It’s deliberately simple– anything thrilling would only serve to undermine the experience. Notably, there is one vocal piece that plays during the climax and credits. I didn’t think too much of it other than “Hey, this reminds me of 5cm/s!”
So what is “The Garden of Words” in the end, beyond a visual and aural treat? I would tell you that it is not a very good story. What brilliance it holds at the start is obstructed by lackluster characterization and cloying drama. With more focus given to the writing process and with a story at least partly equal to its production quality, this may have been a film to remember for years to come. As it stands, it is a captivating but ultimately disappointing experience. It could have been much more without the melodrama and with more room given for the characters to live and breathe. After all, beauty is best achieved in simplicity.
If only Shinkai held to this for the entire film.
The entire plot centralises around the interactions between our two main characters: a young student and a mysterious grown-up woman. Be that as it may, the dialogue is very minimal but simultaneously so potent for a vast majority of the development that occurs and the insights we gain into our protagonists hinges upon brief and restrained conversations. It is the absence of dialogue in many cases that convey human emotions more eminently and passionately than when spoken and the visuals play an incredible role to enhance this. Given the film’s brevity, it requires every element to contribute to the plot and no element exists without a reason – be it simple movements, scenery, music or dialogue. It is truly impressive to see how effectively and concisely deep emotions and their underlying intentions are conveyed. The story is told elegantly for nothing is wasted.
Rain is a fundamental aspect that initially represents the condition necessary for our protagonists to meet. I think with regards to the symbolism that Shinkai has employed to explore key themes, it is better if you watch and contemplate yourself on them as this is where the majority of the satisfaction lies in this movie. The most impressive aspect of the Shinkai’s film was how effectively extended metaphors such as the rain were used consistently and in an enlightening fashion which keeps the film short yet brimming with sentiment. These themes coalesce with our characters and their self-discoveries to tell a larger story at hand in a modern social context exploring the Japanese traditional notion of love. Takao’s burning desire to transcend into adulthood and realise his dreams is beautifully embodied by the older and seemingly sophisticated woman but even during the film’s brief journey, Takao’s preconceptions are deconstructed and despite their differences, they come to realise their similarities through their interactions under the rain which are painfully human. Perhaps my only significant issue I found was the lack of emotional intensity or potency that led our female main character to the position and predicament she was in. By no means was it weak but it seemed lacking compared to how brilliantly Takao was characterised and this slight imbalance for me, hampered the final climax to a certain degree.
For a film whose strengths lies in its representation through resigned soliloquies, much of the portrayal lies in the hands of the artwork and animation which are nothing short of a masterpiece. This is the most visually impressive work I have ever seen in the entirety of the anime medium. The animation is flawless with excellent cinematography such as clever use of deep focus in more intimate scenes that successfully emphasise key metaphors employed and well angled panoramas boasting the vast and gorgeous landscapes that are a sight for sore eyes. The sceneries and landscapes are meticulously drawn with details that are exceptionally similar to real life further enhancing the immersion of the experience. The musical score has a larger focus on softer pieces that almost act as an addition to natural sounds of rain and nature or the cacophony of city-life. The soundtrack is entirely piano-based and range from subtler pieces that capture the ambience of the moment to more prominent pieces such as “Greenery Rain” (one of my favourite anime OSTs) which accompany many of the visual experiences.
“Kotonoha no Niwa” is a magnificent movie that adopts a more nuanced and authentic approach in exploring human relationships. As stated initially, this is not simply a bittersweet romance that many condemn it to be but a subtle journey into the solitude and desires humans hold, within a prominent and relevant modern day social context. All of this is delivered to viewers in a film that entirely takes advantage of the anime medium, showing just how much artistry and cinematic storytelling that resonates within you (as most Shinkai films do) can be achieved in a what is fundamentally 46 minutes of animated images.
Garden of Words (also known as Kotonoha no Niwa) is a 2013 film and the latest installation of Makoto Shinkai’s works. He is already known as a famous Japanese director as well as a former graphic designer. He is previously known for his involvement in other films such as The Place Promised in Our Early Days, 5 Centimeters Per Second, and Children Who Chase Lost Voices. As both director and writer of this latest movie, he puts his skills to test once again and I am grateful to say that it was definitely a memorable experience.
The story is told in a narrative perspective by a young man named Takao Akizuki during the mid year of June. He is 15 years old and has hopes to become a shoemaker. On a rainy day in June, he meets a mysterious woman named Yukari Yukino. They seem to be striking up a conversation that begins with an unfamiliar mood. The rain dark clouds covers the skies with claps of thunder strikes their first unusual encounter in the garden.
For the setting of the movie, it takes place in modern Tokyo seemingly in a normal environment. There’s nothing too unusual going around the place with the sunny mornings, the cloudy sky, and passing days of riding the subway station. However, what becomes unusual is Takao and his admiration of shoes as well as Yukari’s feet. His artwork expresses his desire to become a shoemaker more than ever. As mentioned in the film, it is in Takao’s mind on what will get him out of his current living standards.
Throughout the film, it’s observed that Takao and Yukino’s bonds become stronger through their first unusual meeting in the garden to food sharing and later on with more of emotional attachment. Despite this, their relationship is lighthearted but again unusual. Takao dreams to become a shoemaker and here we have Yukino and her feet. The two doesn’t know anything about each other but their connection somehow bonds them together. Takao is charmed by her presence and with the pouring rain symbolizes a picture worth a thousand words.
The season continues on. Seemingly every day, the atmosphere of this movie gives off a natural feeling. It’s enchanting to see how everything flow along with the pouring rain. The fact days passes by like pouring rain but later on, it shows more of a clear sky. Throughout this time, it’s clear that Takao has a clear mind with what he wants to do. He wants to become a shoemaker and with a proper mind set tries to raise income to achieve the task. After all, money don’t grow on trees and everything has a price.
Takao and Yukino’s relationship throughout the movie seems to be based on a strange connection. It’s hard to make out exactly what it is because of their unusual encounter in the garden in the first place. But still, there’s definitely a connection between them. It’s just that the connection here seems to be rather blend due to Takao’s lack of knowledge regarding Yukino. However, it’s clear that he cares for her. In fact, his rage builds up whenever Yukino’s name is heard from Takao’s ears when something negatively is spoken behind her back. Most of the time though, Takao seems to be in his own little world.
The series also adopts the ‘romance’ genre so naturally, their budding relationship steers from strangers, to platonic, and romantic. To be honest, I find this rather bit bizarre and out of place. They’ve only met for less than a few months with little knowledge of each other. Furthermore, their relationship seems to be more of a fantasy from my perspective rather than realistic. It’s definitely something not many of us see in every day life where people gets connected by shoes and feet, right?
Love or hate.
Like most of Mikoto Shinkai’s films, the movie moves with feelings from a calm mood to more of a dramatic. This is expressed through secrets that are revealed later on. Under the rainy clouds, their tears pour and expresses emotions from the bottom of their hearts. Did I find this appealing? Yes. Did I feel the emotions of the characters? No. To me, this was just rushed in terms of relationship. In just that summer, bonds are established but once the dog days are over, it just becomes blend again. That’s how I felt for the story anyways.
The artwork of this series is spectacular. Have you ever seen a bright rainbow right after a long shower? Perhaps this is how I viewed the visuals throughout this film. It is majestic and has a strong radiance that shines more than the cloudy skies that fills the settings. As expected of Makoto Shinaki, a former graphic designer, he puts his skills at work and obviously makes it dazzling for viewers to enjoy those scenery. It is no doubt in my mind the visuals of this series deserves a standing ovation.
On another note, the soundtrack of this movie combines a piano like tone with a song of melody to top things off. The ED song, “Rain” by Motohiro Hata shows emotions flowing through the backgrounds of our two main characters. Needless to say, it puts you in the shoes of their emotions. Along the way, the calm and lighthearted OST gives off a balanced vibe of naturalism. The dialogues spoken by the characters shows their everyday life tones while rage and emotions are expressed in a more intimating voice. I give praise to Kana Hanazawa who is known for her many works and in this movie, she shows the world her talent once again with her dazzling expressions and mannerisms.
For fans of Makoto Shinkai, this is definitely a film to watch and enjoy. However, if you’re looking for more of a deeper plot, then that might leave you a bit more unsatisfied. At the same time, some hopes just doesn’t keep up with my own expectations especially in the story department. Needless to say though, the colorful and artistic visuals of Garden of Words will paint you a memory you won’t forget. Along with the soundtrack and song, it captures a moment where you feel as if you were there with the characters. It’s also from this moment that hopes are formed with Takao and Yukino. There’s this feeling from this 46 minute film I got that people can relate to. It’s about hopes and dreams for the future. Takao wants to be a shoemaker and that’s what he aims to be. I’m sure most of us has our own hopes and dreams for the future as well. Well with that said being and done, I HOPE you enjoy this film.
7: Tekkon Kinkreet
MAL Score: 7.97
The streets of Treasure Town are said to belong to “The Cats.” They know everything that goes on in the city, and no one can stir up trouble without going through them first. In reality, The Cats are a pair of orphan boys called Black and White, who aren’t afraid of anything or anyone.
But their rule of the streets is challenged when the Yakuza come to town and start making changes. The wild Black and the carefree White have no one to rely on but themselves to get their Treasure Town back to the way it was. But their bond is tested as they quickly realize going back to how things were may no longer be an option.
Tekkonkinkreet is also known as Black and White, and so named are the two main characters; both being delinquent street kids who live out of a rusty old used car in the concrete city-scape Treasure Town. Despite being mere children, their gang, the (stray) Cats, dominate the violent underbelly of Treasure Town’s yuppie society, their attentions feared by thugs, police and yakuza alike. As is immediately clear, Black and White aren’t normal kids at all; for a start, they can fly, but mostly, they are defined by their emotional eccentricities.
Black is just that; a black-hearted, blood thirsty thug who is constantly looking for a fight; his attraction to violence borders on sadism and often he can be seen with a giant crow perched on his shoulder, the meat-eating birds that feed off of human garbage aptly symbolizing his pessimistic views on life. His snot-nosed buddy White is the exact opposite; optimistic, innocent and constantly laughing, he has dreams of a future outside of Treasure Town; a vision of rolling blue seas and sparkling golden sand. Black and White live for each other; Black protects White from the city’s violent undercurrents, while White’s very existence anchors Black’s true departure into darkness.
The plot is simply a means to that end, and quite frankly, isn’t so important. Treasure Town is being steam-rollered by an unscrupulous theme park franchise and hence, they need to get rid of the tourist-scaring delinquent kids. Unfortunately for them, Black sees the city as his town too, and his unrelenting intent on causing trouble begins what is a gradual descent into violent madness. The heart-rending characterisation extends to an entire cast of misfits, not least of all a scar-faced ex-yakuza struggling against the tide of violence to forge a better future for his pregnant girlfriend. Early in the movie, this same yakuza shows his professional streak when he gleefully removes the ears from one unlucky fellow.
The tragic and emotionally intense characterisation is well balanced by extended sequences of brutal and kinetic action, not least of all an Akira style opening scene that sees Black and White chasing a group of rival punks across colourful roof-tops and moving traffic. The gravity defying jumps, flips and kicks are well complemented by an emotive electronica score courtesy of British dance group Plaid. Of special note is that the music really captures the beautiful and surreal elements of Tekkonkinkreet, whimsical dreams of a flower-laden future totally at odds with Treasure Town’s overflowing urban metropolis.
A truly three dimensional effort; the excellent Tekkonkinkreet is a rewarding and exciting movie that offers bitter-sweet moments of friendship and family, morals and loyalty, set in an unrelentingly violent and cruel world dominated by industry and capitalism. Animated with beautiful perfection and stylized to the point of surrealism, it’s a great looking film that both exploits and cherishes the inherent contradictions of the human spirit.
Story: Black and White, Kuro and Shiro are orphans, and they’re the "Cats." In a word they’re street thugs and it’s mainly Kuro (Black) who does the fighting. Shiro (White) is missing something in his head and he constantly "phones" outer space to let them know how he’s doing. The main relationship is between these two and it’s expertly crafted. There are two police officers who really do a great job of balancing the anime. Their presence really keeps the movie level. The antagonist is Snake, he’s trying to milk Treasure Town for all it’s worth, to do this his plan is to create an amusement park. Kuro doesn’t want that to happen. I’m finding it very difficult to explain the story and I really don’t think that I can do it any justice at all. The story is multifaceted and multilayered. There are no scrap characters and every conversation is important. There are absolutely no wasted scenes in this anime. I was getting a huge Steinbeck vibe, I was feeling that this anime was doing a great job of channeling his "Of Mice and Men." White’s dream of going to the ocean is a lot like Lennie’s dream of owning a farm and tending rabbits.
Art: The art is amazing. Every scene is breathtakingly beautiful. The backgrounds are detailed so well that I occasionally paused the screen just to admire their beauty. The art is probably the best I’ve seen in an anime and the details are beautifully rendered. The characters style is slightly minimalistic. Compared to the backgrounds the characters are very bare, but this suits the feel perfectly. The characters fit in so well with the backgrounds and interact with the world so well. The art is absolutely beautiful. Every scene of animation is beautiful. There are so many sequences that took my breath away, there is never a choppy scene, no scene feels clunky. The animation is so perfectly fluid and I cannot express how amazing it is, it has to be seen to be believed. The one thing that I thought was perfectly done was how the art and the mood of the anime clash wonderfully. The colours are very bright and vivid, and if you really weren’t paying attention you’d think that this is a very bright and happy anime. But the anime is dark, it’s quite dark and the art only shows that darkness at certain intervals, but for the most part the anime is bright and colourful, whereas the mood is dark.
Sound: This is one of the first anime that I’ve seen where I was activally paying attention to the background music. It was all perfect, it was all fast and just amazing. I’m a firm believer in that music in anime does not make or break it, it either makes a good anime better, or worse; or a bad anime better or worse. In Tekkon Kinkreet, the music makes an already excellent anime even better.
Character: Every character is incredibly, and sometimes painfully, human. With the exception of the alien assassins of course. The relationships between the characters, especially between Black and White are so beliveable and so incredibly real. I found myself caring so much about all of these characters, which is not something that I regularly do. It’s amazing because every character changes and every relationship changes as well, it’s rare to see how realistically each character’s change is portrayed.
Enjoyment: If you haven’t noticed already, I love this anime, it’s completely and utterly perfect. There is not a boring or meaningless scene. There are no pointless characters, every character is unique and human. Kinkreet is very original and it really does an amazing job of everything that it does. I cannot express how enjoyable this anime is, you really need to watch it for yourself.
If this isn’t at the top of your list, put it there. I believe that in order to appreciate anime you have to see both terrible and amazing anime. To me there are very, very few perfect anime, I would have a hard time listing them on my hands. However, this anime is so close to perfection that I would myself, call it perfect. Watching this anime reconfirms the reasons why I started watching anime in the first place.
This isn’t going to be an easy one to review. I have very mixed feelings towards Tekkon Kinkreet. It’s one of those anime that to me wasn’t great and certainly wasn’t bad. However, that isn’t to say it was average. It’s more accurate to say it was simultaneously spectacular, and a total piece of shit…so it ended up in the middle.
Oh and Spoiler alert! I can’t really talk about why I’m conflicted with this film unless I go into some spoiler territory.
Plot and characters:
We are introduced to a wild and beautifully animated city. According to the director, this city was created by taking elements from Japan, China, and India. Our main characters are 2 orphans named Black and White. Black is an angry, brooding, violent anti-hero. White is a special needs kid who remains pure and innocent despite being surrounded by crime and poverty. Together they balance each other out and form a very obvious Yin-Yang dynamic. The first 1/4th of the film is Black and White living together in the slum called Treasure Town and defending their turf from Yakuza. We get some very touching scenes of brotherly bonding. We’re introduced to the city and Tekkon gets to demonstrate its beautifully fluent animation and vibrant colors. Everything is going great. The movie at this point is safely in 8/10 territory. Then everything starts going wrong.
Around 1/3rd through the movie, an evil foreign real estate developer is introduced. This guy wants to destroy the slum where our heroes live in order to build a giant amusement park. That’s right! It’s time to rip off the plot of such great films as “Breakin 2 Electric Boogaloo and basically every Disney TV movie from the 90s. It gets better. The evil real estate tycoon introduces 3 super powered assassins who can fly. We’re just going to throw in super powers and kick any small sense of realism out the window halfway into the movie. The tycoon’s plan is to have the assassins kill Black and White. Once the 2 orphan defenders are dealt with, the rest of the slum will give up hope and evict themselves…I guess. The first assassin is dealt with when White pours gasoline on him and sets him on fire. White is pretty pleased with himself and says “Maybe this whole rotten city should burn!”. WTF Tekkon!? We’re over halfway through and out of fucking nowhere you turn the sweet retarded kid into Rorschach?! White ends up getting injured by the 2nd assassin and is taken into protective custody. We also get a touching, tragic scene in which one Yakuza thug is forced to kill his old boss at the behest of the tycoon. The Yakuza guy loved his old boss, but the Tycoon will kill his family if he doesn’t obey. The boss understands this and accepts his fate. It’s probably the best scene in the entire movie and if had ended here, we would still be in 7/10 territory.
Now we enter act 3 and here is where things REALLY fall apart. The foreign real estate tycoon succeeds in tearing down the Treasure Town slum and building an amusement park…surrounded by more Chinese/Indian slum. I can’t wait for Disney World to build a park in the endless, sprawling slums outside Bengal! The tycoon though is STILL obsessed with killing Black and White! He develops a plan to kill Black in the middle of his own amusement park using his remaining assassins. Never mind the fact this would create a massive panic and badly hurt visitor numbers to his park. Character motivations in this film make zero sense. Speaking of which, the yakuza thug reports back to the tycoon and just decides “fuck it! I hate this guy too much!”. The thug kills the tycoon and gets shot in return. Whelp, his family is fucked. It also completely undermined the best scene in the movie. We aren’t done yet though! Black goes completely insane without having White by his side and develops multiple personality disorder. We’re 90% in and its time to just throw in multiple personalities. Since we have no time left, Black quickly kills the assassins and banishes his dark personality in 5 minutes simply by thinking about White’s innocence. This is definitely the fastest and easiest I’ve seen dissociative identity cured in a movie! It’s almost like it had no reason to be here! Black reunites with White and the film subverts expectations yet again by ending perfectly happy with them playing at a beach. As for the 5 or so murders and 12 assaults Black commits in this movie with tons of witnesses? Who gives a shit?! It has zero repercussions! The film just kind of ends and I don’t feel like anything was really learned or accomplished.
Art and Sound:
The art and animation is amazing! This film just oozes with style and personality. It has a very unique aesthetic that kind of reminds me of Yuasa’s style. The soundtrack is honestly nothing special and I wasn’t impressed with the voice acting. This anime was written and directed by an American guy. If this anime is famous for anything, it’s that little bit of trivia. So I went with the English dub. Big mistake. White’s voice actor is a 6 year old child who had no prior acting experience and according to IMDB has never worked again after this. The dub is just fucking painful in places and the soundtrack does this film no favors.
Tekkon Kinkreet is a visually stunning film! If you consider anime to be a purely visual medium and ONLY a visual medium, you can still love every second of this film. I just want to make it clear that I’m not some uncultured asshole who gives low ratings to purely visual experiences. I didn’t go on Letterbox or IMDB and give low ratings to “Man with Movie Camera” or “Olympia”. Those are great films and I rated them accordingly. Tekkon is in fact a narrative story and to me doesn’t just fail in telling that story, it failed HARD. It still has individual scenes that are good, but the total project is just…ugh. It has this weird obsession with subverting expectations in the stupidest possible ways. I think the director just gets giddy to jerk the wheel and send us all over a cliff. Tekkon Kinkreet is like watching City of God as written and directed by a drunk Rian Johnson. No matter how pretty it looks, I just can’t personally rate this one above a 6.
MAL Score: 8.05
The world of dreams can be an incredible window into the psyche, showing one’s deepest desires, aspirations, and repressed memories. One hopeful tech lab has been developing the “DC Mini,” a device with the power to delve into the dreams of others. Atsuko Chiba and Kosaku Tokita have been tirelessly working to develop this technology with the hopes of using it to deeply explore patients’ minds and help cure them of their psychological disorders.
However, having access to the deepest corners of a person’s mind comes with a tremendous responsibility. In the wrong hands, the DC Mini could be used as a form of psychological terrorism and cause mental breakdowns in the minds of targets. When this technology is stolen and people around them start acting strangely, Atsuko and Kosaku know they have a serious problem on their hands. Enlisting the help of Officer Konakawa, who has been receiving this experimental therapy, they search both the real and dream worlds for their mental terrorist.
Those familiar with Satoshi Kon’s work should know he likes to blend reality and illusion. Paprika was no exception, dealing with the dream world via DC mini, a device which can be used to enter someone’s dreams. As expected the dream world Kon created was incredibly imaginative and surreal. Animation and art for this movie was easily the best of Kon’s work as well as most anime. This movie was worth watching just for the animation and surreal world that Kon creates. Music was equally good, creating a haunting yet beautiful atmosphere. Sadly I don’t think its possible to even possible to describe the surreal and imaginative dream sequences in Paprika. However, that’s it, I could go on and on about the movie’s technical merit, but it doesn’t make up for its weak narrative.
Paprika featured highly imaginative imagery and excellent editing that Kon is known for however, what was it all for? If we take out the imagery out of the equation, what do we have left? The basic outline of Paprika’s story was wafer thin and had a painfully obvious twist near the end. In addition, a tacked on romance that made far less sense than even the most surreal imagery that Kon can muster. Chances are you’re thinking “Its all about the execution, who cares about a weak storyline as long as its done well.” Yes, execution is more important and surreal imagery and crazy editing can be used to make an otherwise boring story captivating. For example, Millennium Actress, one of Kon’s earlier works. However, in the case of Paprika the surreal imagery felt like it was the main point and the story/characters were secondary. Also, the imagery didn’t serve any purpose with respects to the story, it was there for the sake of being there and a “plot” to provide it some context.
What I said was only for the main plot line, the detective’s sub plot was sadly far more interesting. Here the use of imagery really suits his story and conflicts, similar in execution as in Millennium Actress. However, something is wrong when a sub plot is more interesting than the main story.
Characters are also pretty weak. The villain was pitifully boring and one-dimensional. Sadly, I can’t say otherwise for the rest of the cast. Also, the development of Atsuko and her romance at the end was so forced it was unbelievable. Once again, this confused me more than even the most surreal imagery Kon can muster. Konakawa (the detective) was the only saving grace in the cast of Paprika. He actually had a decent amount of characterization and actually developed through the course of the movie.
Paprika was a wholly imaginative work that only Satoshi Kon can create. He creates a landscape that was beyond words. This was coupled with amazing technical achievement by Madhouse, the animation studio. However, Paprika failed in terms of story and characters. The visuals didn’t serve much of a purpose with respects to the plot and felt like it was there for the sake of being there. Also, this plot was incredibly superficial and painfully predictable. The tacked on romance and forced character development was equally painfully and confusing. Konakawa was the only saving grace in terms of story and character however, something is wrong when a side character was more interesting than the main story. In the end, Paprika is more like a dream than Kon probably intended. It was captivating during but when it ends you’ll remember only a few visual snippets and forget everything else.
Dreams as a concept have always captivated me, and never before have I seen such a well-done representation of dreams in any form of media. Movies usually treat them as either being pointlessly strange, or pointedly symbolic, but Paprika captures their essence to fascinating effect. Dreams are as much about flow and direction as they are about the immediate situation, and this is something very apparent when watching Paprika, as the dreams flow and change fascinatingly with mundane illogic, moving from one setting to another with only a thematic thread between them. Looking back at my own dreams and how they shift from setting to setting based on the emotional context, and I see that Paprika portrays this perfectly. I can see that the dream sequences were thoughtfully brought to life, and were not just crazy for the sake of crazy. But through all its fanciful imagery and creativity unbound from realism, Paprika has a story behind it that deals with very strong human emotions, and it excellently weaves this emotional content throughout the films, particularly in the dream sequences, where the subconscious expresses the truth behind each character’s external, day-to-day personality.
The way it tells this story is simultaneously a strength and a flaw of the film; on the one hand I am inclined to say that it was obfuscatory in the way it obscured the plot from the viewer. While watching this movie I felt like I was trying to get my head around a particularly long riddle. As I followed it, the only understanding I really got of what was actually going on was in retrospect, and while some may call this clever, I found that not having an idea of the direction of the plot was a detriment. However, given that the movie revolves around the theme of dream analysis, it is also a fitting method of storytelling: the audience itself has to engage in the movie as though it were analysing a dream, and hence can only be understood when looking back at it. However, my advice to anyone planning to watch the movie: pay close attention to the dialogue and symbology of the dreams, because it is all too easy to get caught up in the zany fun of the dream sequences and lose track of the plot.
When it comes to the plot itself, I’m not so enthusiastic. Nor am I so aflame with praise when it comes to the characterisation. Both of these factors are the reasons why I am hesitant to label it as my favourite Satoshi Kon film; Tokyo Godfathers had excellent characterisation, and a simple yet powerful story; and Perfect Blue, with its introverted character study, delivered a great emotional impact. It may well be impossible to create a perfect film, but if these factors had been better incorporated into Paprika, then it would be among my favourite anime films, possibly my very favourite. It is a shame that Satoshi Kon’s vision and creativity is let down by a lack of depth in his characters and stories now, after his consistent accomplishments in the past. I think the main problem was that the movie tried to involve a too larger cast, to whom it could not provide ample depth in its limited feature-length time-frame. The other problem was that there was very little attention given to delivering a sense of conflict, a crucial element to any story. Perfect Blue had the internal conflict of the subconscious and the conscious; Tokyo Godfathers had conflict between its characters and society; and this movie tries to incorporate an antagonist-protagonist conflict, almost as an afterthought, with neither party given enough profundity to their perspectives to make the conflict intense. There was mention of their different ideology when it comes to the exploration of dreams, and a subplot of jealousy, but little more. So the story lacks the optimal ‘beginning -> conflict -> end’ structure, meaning it felt like it just went on and on until it finished, as entertaining as it was.
I have little to say about the technical achievements behind this film, other than the fact that it was fantastic in almost all aspects, with only the score music lacking. It is clear he used the same musical producer behind Paranoia Agent’s score track, and I simply cannot find his style of music appealing; it feels immature and cannot contribute effectively to the mood of the movie. Much better was the use of music in Perfect Blue, the score of which really sold the hauntingly intense atmosphere. The visuals are much better; this is his best looking film yet, with vivid animation and, as expected, brilliant direction.
It was not given enough weight, but I liked the message that dreams are the final sanctity of the human mind, which should not be intruded upon. This movie beautifies dreams, and attaches importance to them (as seen in Atsuko’s acknowledgement of her feelings for Dr. Torataro through her subconscious), and the suggestion that veil between them and reality is sacred really spoke to me, even if it came from the mouth of the antagonist. Paprika is a thoroughly enjoyable, visually captivating movie, which does overwhelming justice to its theme of dreaming, but which has flaws in its plot and characters that prevent it from being a great achievement as a film.
Adapted from a novel of the same name by science fiction author Yautaka Tsutsiu, Paprika takes Kon’s mind-bending style and applies it quite literally to the plot. The story takes place in the near future, where a remarkable device called the “DC Mini” has been invented, which allows people to enter other peoples’ dreams and access their unconscious thoughts; intended for the use of psychotherapists. However, while still in its development, one of the DC Mini prototypes is stolen. Soon, development staff members begin to have their dreams invaded and entangled, and its up to head of development Chiba Atsuko, and her chipper alter ego Paprika, to find the culprit and retrieve the prototype before more damage is done.
This premise works perfectly with Kon’s directing style and the themes he often explores. The movie weaves from dream to reality and back again seamlessly. With the DC Mini giving the ability to enter (or invade) peoples’ dreams and psyches, it becomes increasingly difficult to distinguish between delusion and reality. There are scenes which seem to take place in reality, until something strange occurs, pulling back the curtain to reveal that it is a dream instead. The dissolving wall between the two comes with some serious consequences, as characters slip into madness; becoming delusional and erratic. Kon perpetuates a sense of unease and delirium with colorfully deranged imagery, hallucinatory sequences, and sudden outbursts of insanity, keeping the audience in a state of constant imbalance. And yet there is a certain unhinged joy than comes with the madness. There is something wondrous about unconscious mind and the images it conjures; the limitless possibilities of a dream, and the hidden meanings behind those dreams. Even at their most disturbing, the surreal dreamscapes of Paprika are entrancing.
Our protagonist, Atsuko, is cool-headed; always in control. She maintains a stern, often harsh, but logical and level-headed demeanor. She’s all business, doesn’t have much of a sense of humor, and little patience for the childish irresponsibility of man-child genius Tokita, the inventor of the DC Mini. Or at least that is how she seems on the outside. In stark contrast is Atsuko’s alter-ego, the titicular Paprika. Paprika is a free spirit, more easy going and fun than Atsuko, to the point that the two seem to be completely different people, and not just because of their differing character designs. This contrast is interesting because it shows how a person’s suppressed desires can manifest in spite of (or because) their attempts to keep control over themselves. As much as Atsuko would like to think she has control over herself and everything around her by suppressing her emotions, she’s only being dishonest with herself. The rest of the cast (sans Detective Konakawa), are underdeveloped, yet still likeable and interesting. Tokita adds some nice comedic relief; the two antagonists are really quite interesting, though they would have certainly benefited from more screen time.
There is also a sub-plot involving a detective who Atsuko is treating in unauthorized sessions using the DC Mini. Here, Kon infuses Paprika with his love for movies, ironically enough through a character who claims to hate movies. Despite such claims, Detective Konakawa’s dreams often are movie themed, and his strong objection to movies implies some kind of past trauma. Indeed, as the movie delves deeper into his character, it reveals he has a deep knowledge and connection to movies, but now avoids them because of unfulfilled and broken desires of his youth. The movie reveals this slowly and uncomfortably, often playing out like a therapy session, using motifs such as a reoccurring dream of a murder in a hallway which represents a case Konakawa is currently having trouble solving, or his dislike of the number 17. Konakawa’s character ark also draws a interesting parallels from movies and the internet to dreams; all are places that the human subconscious can escape into. A rather meta concept, considering that you are watching a movie.
Paprika is Satoshi Kon’s most vivid and wildly imaginative work. Kon clearly let go of restraint from the deranged, ever-shifting opening dream sequence. However, that isn’t to say that it is done with no finesse, quite the contrary actually. Even with the free-floating lunacy of the movie, Kon’s cinematic brilliance shines through. The radical transitions from dreamscape to dreamscape, which would look awkward in less skillful hands, flow like water under Kon’s direction. The imagery is dazzling (if at times unsettling), and incredibly creative, sometimes frighteningly so. The chase scene in which Paprika is being pursued by the antagonists through multiple shifting settings is a breathtaking showcase of the movie’s visual ingenuity. As is the movie’s crazed grand finale, which features one of the main characters growing from infancy to adulthood while absorbing another character’s dreams. There are also some crafty motifs the movie implements to set mood and tone, notably the crazed parade that is assimilating all other dreams. This all comes together to create a unique controlled chaos of visual imagination that is impossible to forget. It’s also worth noting that the movie has the coolest opening credits I’ve seen, with Paprika taking a tour of the city in a way only she can.
The sweeping electropop soundtrack by Susumu Hirasawa is fittingly strange, but also grants the movie a sense of grandeur. The music has an odd, otherworldly texture which works very well in a movie that spends most of time roaming through the realm of dreams and human consciousness. Interestingly enough, some of the vocals were produced using vocaloid, which doubtlessly contributed to the music’s strangeness. Of special note is the bouncy track titled ‘Meditation Field’ that accompanies the opening credits, and the bizarre ‘Parade’ which plays as people descend into madness or when that crazy parade of dreams shows up.
Though sometimes a bit convoluted, Paprika is an eye-popping, cerebral extravaganza that never fails to impress and entertain. More than simply a piece of eye-candy, the movie invokes some interesting ideas about dreams and the human psyche. Both Atsuko and Konakawa illustrate some fascinating insights in how people lie to themselves or bury the unpleasant, and what repercussions that might have. Paprika is just exploding with creativity, brimming with imagery straight out of your wildest dreams, and endlessly entertaining. It’s a fitting final work for a great master.
5: Omoide no Marnie
English: When Marnie Was There
MAL Score: 8.08
Suffering from frequent asthma attacks, young Anna Sasaki is quiet, unsociable, and isolated from her peers, causing her foster parent endless worry. Upon recommendation by the doctor, Anna is sent to the countryside, in hope that the cleaner air and more relaxing lifestyle will improve her health and help clear her mind. Engaging in her passion for sketching, Anna spends her summer days living with her aunt and uncle in a small town near the sea.
One day while wandering outside, Anna discovers an abandoned mansion known as the Marsh House. However, she soon finds that the residence isn’t as vacant as it appears to be, running into a mysterious girl named Marnie. Marnie’s bubbly demeanor slowly begins to draw Anna out of her shell as she returns night after night to meet with her new friend. But it seems there is more to the strange girl than meets the eye—as her time in the town nears its end, Anna begins to discover the truth behind the walls of the Marsh House.
Omoide no Marnie tells the touching story of a young girl’s journey through self-discovery and friendship, and the summer that she will remember for the rest of her life.
The story for When Marnie Was There is based on the novel of the same name by Joan G. Robinson. Anna, the lead protagonist, has no friends, suffers from asthma attacks, and has a talent for sketching. She is rather closed off, rarely shows emotions, and is suspected to be depressed. After suffering a severe asthma attack, it is concluded that she should go live in the country for a while, away from the pollution. The pacing of these events is quite fast, but the continuation has an excellent pacing. As you’ve probably read from the synopsis, she begins to connect with a mysterious girl, Marnie. As you watch, pay attention to the expressions and interactions between the two girls. The interaction, the subtle changes in expression, and the strange occurrences that don’t quite make sense make the story. Waiting for the story to unfold without paying attention to this, and without thinking about the plot, will make for a much less enjoyable experience. The pacing is excellent, the story telling is great, and the plot is amazing — but don’t expect an action-packed panty-shot fan-service movie. This is a story about adolescence, friendship, connecting, and mystery; and is just that in its purest form.
I could sum this up as “typical Studio Ghibli”. If you don’t know what that means, shame on you. To elaborate, everything from the character expressions, to the environments and the little decorations in the rooms is sublime. The attention for detail is extremely high, you could take a picture of a landscape or indoor room (stuffed with decorations) and get something that looks extremely similar to the environments and art shown in movie. As I mentioned at the story, especially the expressions deserve a lot of praise. A lot of attention and detail went into this, and you can see that the massive amount of experience and hand-drawn scenes delivers.
This should come as no surprise due to my earlier statement of continuously listening to the sound track for almost a month, but the sound is top notch. Like other Ghibli movies, the background music blends perfectly into the atmosphere and complement the mood and environment. At the end of the story, at the credits, once you’ve experienced the mood and growth of the characters, the ending theme “Fine on the Outside” by Priscilla Ahn begins to play. I cannot begin to describe how perfectly attuned it is to the mood you are in at the end of the ride; it compliments the entire story, and even feels like it is part of the story. If you’ve listened to it before, the meaning and feeling will change completely. The sound was excellent, and the album by Priscilla Ahn complimenting the movie is filled with great songs. Don’t listen to it before you’ve seen the movie, though, as many of the songs on that album actually tell parts of the story!
It should come as no surprise, I really, really enjoyed the movie. It is an excellent movie, worthy of being a movie produced by Studio Ghibli, and if the worst thing happens — an excellent final movie to be produced by them. After a month before reviewing the movie I can draw an honest conclusion; When Marnie Was There is now my favorite Ghibli movie. I hope to see the movie again soon, and hope that you’ll enjoy it as much as I did.
Ghibli’s final film is not easy to give a finalized opinion on. After thinking about this matter for a long while, I ultimately decide to award an Average grade to it.
If you want me to give a completely spoiler free verdict on whether or not to give this film a watch, I’d say if you’re into a slow relaxing film, this may satisfy you. Otherwise you can give this one a pass.
It’s funny, the film has a good middle bit and a very strong climax that, regrettably, is weakened by a very weak beginning and a mediocre and redundant ending that overstay their welcome. Although, I’ll go into that in finer detail as we approach the main review proper.
Now before I begin, as is Ghibli standards, the art quality and the animation is superb and very easy on the eyes. The scenic views and backgrounds are relaxing in their own way and each scene is sufficient in its own when conveying the emotions the scene is bringing to the audience. Unlike most Ghibli films, this film has very minimal (if at all) fantastical elements in it, making for a very grounded, yet, relaxing imagery throughout the entire film.
Now for the story itself. Omoide no Marnie is an adaptation of When Marnie Was There, and for the most part, it does follow the book rather closely, though certain aspects of the book are cut for time purposes. However, personally I felt some parts of the film’s beginning should have been shortened in order to speed up the pacing. It takes a good 40 minutes before the Marnie appears onscreen proper, while prior to that, we get a glimpse into Anna’s life that seriously overstays its welcome. It should take no more than 15 minutes to convey her situation and predicament to the viewer but the film moves at such a slow pace that one honest gets bored waiting for something to happen.
Speaking of which, Anna, particularly her earlier characterization, felt weak and unsympathetic. Her character honestly bugged me, I get Ghibli wanted to make us feel bad for her, but I honestly don’t understand this girl at all. She rejects every possible opportunity to make friends with the extras but yet suddenly develops a bond with Marnie out of nowhere. She neglects to ask important questions despite her doubts on the situation. It’s also strange and morbidly amusing that she ends up unconscious in the middle of the night in random places yet nobody raises an alarm or finds anything suspicious with her.
Without spoiling most of it, the middle part of the film is competent and better-paced than the beginning. Hints and foreshadowing on the main plot twist are placed sparingly but are clear enough to spot so that as the climax approaches, the plot twist and change in tone don’t come across as brash or sudden. And the climax is done so strikingly well one can actually sympathize and feel bad for Anna.
The relationship between Anna and Marnie, ie the core to the story, is done quite well (aside from their first meeting). It’s cute and heart-warming and really has a nice warm and fuzzy feel to it. However, (despite Ghibli claiming otherwise), I still can’t see their relationship being anything aside from a (one-sided maybe) romance, particularly after the revelation later in the story.
The ending however is when the whole story goes back to a mess of a slow pace. The story somehow feels the need to explain its plot twist twice to the viewer, that it comes across as unnecessary padding, and the way it explains its plot twist is so unsatisfactory it feels like an exposition dump on the viewer, especially if the viewer previously caught on to the foreshadowing in the previous part. It ends on a fairly mediocre, if predictable manner.
Ultimately the film is very average. It’s very relaxing, don’t get me wrong, but those wanting more plot may end up disappointed.
It’s still better than Kaguya though.
When Marnie Was there (Omoide no Marnie) really blew itself out of the water with its art quality, story line and character development. I created an account on MAL JUST to review this movie. If you’re looking for an emotional treat with that sprinkle of mystery, look no further.
The plot is built so that you’re left feeling satisfied and wanting more. As with many Ghibli animations, it does have a sort of realistic underlining to it. It’s generally a movie about family and the irreplaceable bond we have with them so it really touches home.
Studio Ghibli has really stepped it up in terms of art; the background is a beautiful watercolour style matched up with the classic hand-drawn animation. Towards the end you could tell they were running out of budget, but never-the-less I would watch the movie just to look at the art again.
The music was very well suited with the movie, however, nothing really too notable. The ending song really brings you back to the beginning of the movie though and wrapped it up nicely. A real sense of nostalgia :’)
This is the best character development i’ve seen from Studio Ghibli in a while, it really is nice seeing the MC change and step out of her comfort zone. The back story of Marnie was well summed up at the end if you couldn’t piece together the puzzle. The contrast between these two characters and seeing them come together is really heart warming.
I highly recommend this movie, so grab a box of tissues and go watch it!
4: Mahou Shoujo Madoka★Magica Movie 1: Hajimari no Monogatari
English: Puella Magi Madoka Magica the Movie Part 1: Beginnings
Japanese: 劇場版 魔法少女まどか☆マギカ 始まりの物語
MAL Score: 8.23
Madoka Kaname and her best friend Sayaka Miki are ordinary middle school students in the city of Mitakihara. But one day, they encounter a strange cat-like creature named Kyuubey, who claims he can grant them one wish. In exchange, they would become magical girls and fight against evil perpetrated by witches. A veteran magical girl in the area, Mami Tomoe, decides to show them how to hunt witches, while the mysterious transfer student Homura Akemi warns them to not take Kyuubey’s deal, though she refuses to say why.
However, after witnessing the brutal reality of fighting witches, the girls decide it may be safer to decline Kyuubey’s offer. But when another magical girl arrives in the city and Sayaka decides to make a wish to help the one she loves, things quickly escalate as they are confronted with the harsh truth behind their powers and the ultimate price of their wishes.
All of these of these things are prevalent within Madoka★Magica. And yet there’s no anime quite like it.
Back in 2011, Madoka★Magica took the anime industry by surprise with a decidedly mature take on an otherwise lighthearted genre. Important characters die in brutal fashion. They struggle with the concept of right-and-wrong, that ‘justice’ is arbitrary and often fanciful. The villain is driven not by greed or vengeance, but by rational motives, occasionally making you wonder if the girls are the ones you should really be rooting for. It was dark and twisted – it took the tropes of the genre and fed them to the ghouls.
And it was a massive financial success. Enough to spawn a movie adaptation only two years later.
Now, let’s be honest – the first thought that came to mind when hearing about these movies was that SHAFT was milking the money cow. TV to movie adaptations don’t have the greatest reputation, and really, it’s hard to be too surprised by that when comparing the bulk of them to the quality of their source material. So where does that leave Madoka★Magica? Somewhere else entirely. A place where a movie adaptation can not only equal the source material, but surpass it, too.
A glimpse at the art is enough to tell the quality of the movies. It is a beautiful anime to look at, befitting of a full-feature movie and far more than just a copypaste of the TV series. A TV series which, mind you, was marred by subpar animation and technical mistakes in its original broadcast (which have sorta-kinda been fixed in the BluRay release). There are next to no technical mistakes in the movie adaptation, and while the characters’ faces could use some more work, SHAFT has put the effort into making the animation flow as well as possible. And that’s to speak nothing of the art direction and scenery. Even simple locations like a secondary school are given unique designs (in this case, something resembling a cathedral), while the worlds of the witches are illustrated in some weird clay-like design which mixes in several widely different animation styles. Your eyeballs will be treated to one of the best-looking anime out there.
The pacing also sees a significant amount of improvement. A few lighthearted scenes involving the school teacher (rambling on about not being married– poor lady) are added in to set a more appropriate atmosphere at the beginning of the story. The dream sequence from the beginning of the TV series has also been removed, which tones the foreshadowing down a notch and makes the big ‘shock’ scene seem all the more crazy.
It’s a little bit odd, though, that SHAFT would make all these improvements and yet not keep in a vital scene for one of the characters. Mami receives no character development, no depth. The scene where she explains her past to Madoka is gone. Erased. And why? It was the only thing that made her seem like a human being and not just a mentor for Madoka and Sayaka. In the movies, she’s just that – an archetype and a plot device. For a series which stands out for having well-written and developed characters, I can’t for the life of me understand why they would remove such an important scene. It’s an unnecessary blemish on an otherwise brilliant story.
The music, much like the art, is exceptional. Rather than simply accompany each scene, the music enhances them. Fights feel tense. Emotional scenes make you want to go and grab a blanket. It’s a powerful soundtrack, and even listening to the music weeks or months after will be enough to get those same feelings back. The voice acting is stellar as well, with Kitamura Eri providing an especially commendable role for Sayaka’s character.
For those looking to get into the series for the first time, both the TV series and the movies serve as equally valid entry points. I would argue that the movie duology is the better of the two, though, as the cinematic experience makes the climax so much more satisfying. Having only one break in the story does wonders for pacing.
Madoka★Magica is just as great as it’s always been. There’s no need to make significant changes when the existing formula is already so sound. All the little changes (with one notable exception) are enough to improve the story and make it even better than before. Has all the praise the series received over the past few years been exaggerated? I never thought so.
As much as SHAFT is reaching for our wallets, it doesn’t change the fact that the Madoka duology is a solid adaptation of an excellent series. More of the same isn’t always a bad thing. Sometimes it’s more than enough.
Yet, was it needed?
Let’s set the record straight: the first two movies cover the same story of the original series. However this is not a simple rehash of the original. It’s a bit unfair to use the term “recap” simply because most fans know the story; the movie contains the same events, but everything in the film has been revamped. Newcomers will be treated with an amazing experience, and fans will be delighted by the subtle changes. Mostly.
After the first few seconds, it becomes quite clear that Shaft had no intention on simply recycling Blu-ray footage: it’s even better. The visuals are absolutely stunning — these changes extend beyond fixing the infamous “meduka meguca” quality drops; the art is much more polished, the animation is more fluid, and backgrounds are incredibly elaborate. The use of the paper-cut-out style returns, bringing an dynamic contrast between the two worlds. Fortunately, these changes are more than simply cosmetic. I have always praised Shaft for having amazing cinematography and this movie is no exception. Familiar scenes have subtle changes: pans, close ups, dynamic angles, head-tilts. When combined with the directing of Shinbo Akiyuki, all these tweaks enhance the tension and suspense.
Shaft also spent much time reworking the sound design. Compared to the original series, audio plays a more prominent role is establishing the atmosphere. Whispers and footsteps add to the eerie nature of the witch-hunts, while the crashes and explosions add power to the action. Of course, the biggest highlight would have to be the amazing soundtrack. Kajiura Yuki created an amazing score that reflects the magical yet horrific world. And just like the visuals, the movie boasts a few new tracks to please the returning fans.
The most controversial change is the pacing. By switching from a television format (12-episodes, 25 minutes each) to a movie format (120 minutes), the story is definitely accelerated giving a great sense of development and plot progression. The movie covers the first eight episodes of the original. The faster pace works to improve the drama (especially with Sayaka’s arc later on) and help give more personality to the characters. However, this change is the Achilles’ heel of the movie.
The original series excelled in “shock and awe” tactics. Before airing, there was mysterious nature to the show. The eerie aesthetics and haunting foreshadowing toyed with the audience’s expectations in the early episodes, only to dramatically reveal its true nature in a stunning plot twist. By deconstructing the genre and using parallels to Goethe’s Faust, it was a roller coaster of madness as the world witnessed the tragedy and downfall of our protagonists. Every week, we were treated with stunning revelations and jaw-dropping cliff-hangers. The pacing was slow yet methodical, only to enhance the suspense and drama. The movie does not have this. The story continuously progresses from scene to scene, granting no time to let it all settle. The audience has no chance to reflect. This isn’t to say the movie is incompetent. The experience is all in the story and the directing, but it’s clear sacrifices were made. This ultimately boils down to one question: What is the purpose of these movies?
Essentially, these movies are a love-letter to the fans. The enhanced audio and visuals definitely deliver a new experience, though the added benefit is quite minimal. Shaft could have simply reused old footage, but it’s clear they chose to make something more. The movie is fantastic as a stand-alone product, but it’s hard to critique it without comparing it to the original. Fundamentally, the story is faithful, yet it lacks the same emotional impact of the original. I’m confident that both die-hard fans and newcomers will enjoy this movie. However, for new fans I recommend the anime original instead.
For a movie to be adapted for another run (especially in terms of story retelling), popularity and revenue often comes as one of the reasons. In fact, anime that have been revived in recent years for a remake or rerun are not new such as Hunter x Hunter, Gurren Lagann, Berserk, Evangelion, and so on. When that comes to the equation, Mahou Shoujo Madoka★Magica also becomes part of that formula. Despite being only 12 episodes with the original TV series that ran in 2011, it has achieved tremendous success that resulted in the record breaking sales of its BDs, numerous anime awards being won, and achieved universal praise for its presentation. So obviously, when a TV series of this caliber gets a movie adaptation, I was excited. No, I was more like ecstatic.
The movie covers the first 8 episodes from the original series in recap form. Therefore, don’t expect any new plot twists or storytelling alternation in this film. In other words, this isn’t a prequel, sequel or side story but rather a recap. This doesn’t mean you should skip anything though especially if you want a refreshment of PMMM entertainment. For new viewers, this should be a delightful experience. As for those who have seen the original TV series, the movie should be a reminder of what Madoka really was.
As far as experience goes, the movie itself touches upon what modern technology can do – recreating the style of PMMM to its finest form. In fact, animation itself isn’t a term to be used here but rather as a vivid expression of what the movie presents. As for starters, the tone of the movie is lighthearted. There’s no change to Madoka’s character from the original series as she remains her usual self. Easily recognizable by her round face and pigtail-like ribbons, she is obviously still the star of the movie. Then, there’s of course the mysterious Homura who transfers to Madoka’s school. As a new student, she’s obviously the talk of the class. Her character remains generally the same and fills the void of the show with its mysterious tones such as the question:
“Do you treasure the life you currently live?”
From a magical girl theme stance, the question spells out a darker mood of the realm. It explores aspects of the magical girl genre like never before. Chiwa Saito (Bakemonogatari, Last Exile, Strawberry Panic) plays her role brilliantly as Hormura as she draws not only Madoka towards her character but the viewers as well. Coming from the TV series, the infamous Kyuubeymakes his return. As the familiar of the magical world, he can grant any wish to a certain girl, on the condition that she becomes a Puella Magi and fights against witches. For fans who are already familiar with him, it’s nostalgic. But for new viewers, this is an experience to see just how dark his character can be. Other characters makes their reappearances too of course like Mami and Sayaka.
The story pacing itself is designed to fit within this movie in a span of more than 2 hours. (2 hours and 10 minutes to be exact) In other words, 8 episodes from the original TV series had to be fit into this presentation. It’s no easy task especially that means some parts would have to be cut out. Perhaps most imperative of these parts involves Mami and her character. Otherwise, one other particular with a big appetite gets more screen time than I had thought which bought a big smile to my face.
Then, there’s the magical transformation from a normal girl into a Puella Magi to fight the witches. The transformation itself is fluid with a strong OST to back it up. Yuki Kajiura’s work is recognizable here with her style. The action itself is also colored with fantasy like atmosphere enhanced by the visual direction of this film. Indeed, it looks sharp. Shaft also adapts its style of presentation through its easily recognizable work. With a magical staff, gun, and determination, these girls can do just about anything.
The themes of solitude and despair also remains intact in the film. As mentioned by Kyuubey, the magical girls represents the spread of hope while the witches are the symbols of despair. That part comes with the tears running down on the face of Madoka after a startling revelation. It’s amazing how almost every little detail gets captured though in this film. Shaft wastes no time with this adaptation to visually present this at its finest imagery. The voices of the characters captures the mood as well. In the beginning, Madoka has that cheery atmosphere surrounding her. On the other hand, Homura shows more of the darkness of the magical world. Then, there’s of course Mami that represents a balance of both in a way. I give praise to the voice actors and actresses in their roles for an outstanding performance.
For character designs, there’s that sense of magical girl feeling. The way they are dressed shows they are serious in fighting the witches just like from the original TV series. For new viewers, Kyuubey will be the surprising twist behind that emotionless smile. The city and its magical realm contrasts greatly in designs that shifts between the world of the real and the surreal. In fact, that fantasy world represents a surrealist sense of despair that also conjures emotions. Of course, there’s emotions here and there especially since the responsibility of being a Mahou Shoujo is never easy, not once in this film. As for the witches, they are designed to be evil without remorse. Their visual representation seems to be sarcastic with their simple designs. However, make no mistake as they are the harbingers of despair.
Ultimately, this film may have a different impression depending on how you watch it. Obviously, not every single second from the original series will be presented in this work. However, what it has brings refreshment to fans of the PMMM franchise. It takes that magical girl theme and gives it to viewers once again with style. What it might lack though is new additions (such as new material inserted in) since this is a recap..but clearly, this can be supported by the OST, atmosphere, and mood of the movie. The original series had that as well so this is a pleasant refreshment. The production values are probably the strengths along with the powerful soundtrack. (make sure to turn the volume all the way up with headphones!) No random fan service, no forced humor, no stupidity, no still animations, no regrets. It’s more than just a recap. It’s a magical experience. ／人◕ ‿‿ ◕人＼
3: Mahou Shoujo Madoka★Magica Movie 2: Eien no Monogatari
English: Puella Magi Madoka Magica the Movie Part 2: Eternal
Japanese: 劇場版 魔法少女まどか☆マギカ 永遠の物語
MAL Score: 8.39
Though Sayaka Miki’s wish was fulfilled, the unforeseen consequences that came with it overwhelm her, causing her soul gem to become tainted as she succumbs to despair and eventually loses her humanity. Homura Akemi reveals to Kyouko Sakura and Madoka Kaname the ultimate fate of magical girls: once their soul gem becomes tainted, it transforms into a Grief Seed, and they are reborn as witches—a truth Homura learned only through repeating history countless times in a bid to prevent Madoka’s tragedy.
Kyuubey only compounds their despair when he confesses his true intentions: to harness the energy created from magical girls and use it to prolong the life of the universe. As the threat of Walpurgisnacht, a powerful witch, looms overhead, Homura once again vows to protect Madoka and the world from a grim fate.
Caught between honoring Homura’s wish and saving the world, which one will Madoka choose in the end?
Mahou Shoujo Madoka★Magica Movie 2: Eien no Monogatari is a story of inescapable destiny, and an unlikely hero who could change it all.
I’m not the biggest fan of the anime series (at least I wasn’t before watching these movies), and, while I think it’s good, it never left a very big impression on me. The reason I’m writing a review of the second movie instead of the first, is because this movie finally succeeded at leaving that impression with me that I have missed both times I have watched the anime. I’ve heard people talk about feeling a “void” after finishing an amazing anime, and Eien no Monogatari has successfully left me with that feeling. I just can’t think of anything to do right now other than writing a review or going to bed early.
As with the first movie, Eien no Monogatari is a recap which follows up and retells the last four episodes of the anime. While the first movie was about an episode and a half shorter than the original material it retold, this movie is actually slightly longer (around 20 minutes more) and it really helps it pace the story much better than before.
Story – 10/10
The story now begins to shift from the main quintet of girls to just Madoka and Homura. It becomes more focused on the idea of the “Magical girl” and exactly what they are. It delves a lot into the psychological aspect of the story as Madoka’s conflict of whether to become a magical girl or not reaches it’s climax after witnessing the tragedies occurring around her and knowing that more are yet to come.
I’ve got to give it up to Gen Urobuchi for being able to create this psychologically intimidating situation for Madoka so well. As the mysteries about Kyuubey come to light, his explanations for why he has done everything he has is amazing and really eye-opening. It really takes apart different aspects of the human race like guilt, emotions, and why we consider some things more important than others, and looks at it from the perspective of something that is not only not human, but does not understand our human perspective on any of these topics.
And then it starts to really focus on Homura. Episode 10 of the original Mahou Shoujo Madoka★Magica anime was one of the best episodes I’ve ever seen, and this movie pulls off that segment even better than before. It has more time, better animation, and some new soundtracks that make it the highlight of this movie in my eyes.
Art – 9/10
Speaking of the art, it’s all redone amazingly. The original anime had some sloppy, rushed animation which has completely vanished in this movie (and the first movie as well). There are still a few still shots that last maybe a little too long, but the action scenes, emotions of the characters, and the backgrounds are all a huge step up from before. The added time in this movie allows for a few new shots to be shown and for many previous ones to be given more depth. Overall, the art is the biggest improvement from the series.
Sound – 10/10
I always loved the Madoka★Magica soundtrack, and thought it was one of the best in all of anime. I have no idea how they made it better despite how amazing it already was, but they sure succeeded. I thought it had one of the best soundtracks ever, but now I know that between these two movies, I cannot think of a single anime in existence with a better soundtrack and I am not exaggerating. They reused all of the old songs, and even added a few new ones with a new, amazing ending credit song as well.
The voice acting is just as good if not better than before. I really can’t compare overall because I would have to watch the anime and movie side-by-side to do so, but there are a few parts where I’m sure the movie has the anime beat, especially when it comes to Madoka’s voice actress.
Character – 10/10
The characters become fewer in this movie as it begins to focus on Madoka and Homura, so it’s a good thing that those two are one of the best duos in anime. I’ll admit, I always liked Sayaka the best and cared less about Homura because of that, but this movie really made me like Homura much more than I ever did before. With the little extra time this movie has, her character is given even more focus and extremely well written development. Madoka as well I felt was stronger in this than before. Her psychological distress was less rushed in the movie and given more time to add to the emotions and darkness of the story and helped build her character. The other characters, especially Kyoko, have some emotional scenes that also top the anime in my opinion (well definitely Kyoko’s, the others are about the same).
Enjoyment – 9/10 (Amazing)
I actually enjoyed this more than the original anime. Sayaka being my favorite character, I enjoyed the middle of the anime series the best, but with these two movies, I actually enjoyed the end of the story more. The new, brilliant art, new additions to the already amazing soundtrack, and the slightly longer time allowed this movie to go above and beyond the already great anime. I can’t wait for the third movie with new material and I’m really hoping it will just as good (maybe better if we’re really lucky) than these two movies.
Well as mentioned previously, this movie is the 2nd part of the trilogy installation from the Mahou Shoujo Madoka★Magica saga. The movie covers the remaining 4 episodes from the original TV series. While the first movie was titled ‘The Beginnings’, this is where it it ends from where the TV version left off.
This movie is essentially another recap of the TV series and thus, there is no original material in terms of storytelling or plot twists. However, that doesn’t mean viewers should pass up a chance to give this a shot though because not only does it bring refreshment, it also brings that sense of magical feeling you might get once again like never before. Indeed, Madoka is like a magical girl theme series like no one has ever seen before especially to those new to the franchise.
The movie starts off from exactly where The Beginnings left off related to Sayaka. The OP song remains the same that is orchestrated by the talented ClariS (Luminous). What the second movie offers though is even more of a darker tone related to the Mahou Shoujo theme. Madoka learns it the hard way from the very beginning from Homura. Both the physical and mental scares remains in Madoka’s mind along with Kyouko. They bring out the psychological style of what PMMM was, is, and continues to be. As for the movie itself, Kyuubey still remains the all unforgiving antagonist with his devilish smile and mind games. It’s a mind twist itself after all.
Like the previous film, this one also boosts talent in terms of voice acting and emotions. Madoka’s VA Aoi Yuuki is especially noticeable because her character suffers throughout her experiences with the events in this movie. In fact, she struggles with her current situation and the words from Kyuubey. She knows they are true facts but hard to accept them as reality. Even Kyouko whom originally started as a confident girl is now struggling with her situation and some startling revelations. They are all suffering with the fate and what they must endure.
The movie also spells out the new destiny that Madoka must embrace just like she did in the original TV series. Along with the startling revelation made in the beginning, Madoka must make difficult decisions even if it’s by herself. In fact, she wrestles with her own feelings and true facts in regards to her best friend, Sakaya. It’s painful to watch but it’s also the grim reality of how dark the movie is, just like the original TV series. Kyuubey further fuels the darkness with his plan and ambition to make Madoka into a Mahou Shoujo no matter what the cost.
Despite this though, fans from the original TV series may also remember a bit of Homura. For newer fans, it is a new insight to her character as we see another side of her, or rather in a different way. We see all the magical girls but then, there’s some of things we don’t expect..(for newer fans that is). Be ready for another twisted ride.
The OST of the movie remains top notch. We can give our thanks to Kajiura Yuki who is able to bring out her talent at its finest. The emotional scenes are played solemnly with the pacing while the action scenes possesses that full throttle feeling of fighting. The artwork takes its majestic style to its own right as well. The way the characters are crafted along with the Witches makes them seem more grim than usual. Of course, the fantasy world also remains surreal with its cutting edge style. Additionally, there’s the grey and red coloring backgrounds that almost seems to bleed in with the style of the series. Even though it seems that the movie portrays the TV series for a recap, it is still just as dark in many ways. Thank you Shaft.
Overall, this was another great film. Despite being a recap, it still had the tone of the TV series with its great cast of characters, supreme OST, unique artwork, and a grim story of magic. It is a world that the characters live in with darkness. The movie is a good wake-up call for those who still comes back once and awhile to relive the experience of PMMM. It is through these experiences where we realize just how dark some series can be. A magical girl theme series unlike most others, Puella Magi Madoka Magica takes the magical girl idea to a whole new level, a level that is unparalleled to what I’ve seen in recent years. There’s pain. There’s sorrow. There’s emotion. There’s betrayal. There’s solitude. Then, there’s Eternal.
First, let’s be clear, the two Madoka movies do not tell any new stories different from the original TV anime. However, that doesn’t mean the two movies have no value, for they are by no means mere recaps of the original series. Except for the plot, everything – visuals, music, voice acting, directing, etc. – everything you can name has been extensively revamped.
Take the visuals for example. Most, if not all, of the scenes have been redrawn and reanimated – the backgrounds grander and more dynamic, the movements smoother, and all the drawing imperfections and animation mistakes fixed. The results are breathtaking. Time and time again, I found myself inadvertently silenced by the beauty and vividness on the screen.
The movies also boast a good number of new tracks by Kajiura Yuki, some of which are remixes/rearrangements of tracks from the original anime, and a few are new compositions entirely. If you know anything about Kajiura Yuki, I probably don’t have to tell you how amazing the new soundtrack is. At the same time, the new tracks also set a different feel for the anime.
Even the lines have been re-recorded. I cannot compare how the voice acting is done in the movie to how it is done in the original series, but I can tell you that in every scene of the movie, the voice acting is always real and compelling. I myself was definitely pulled deeper into the story thanks to the voice actors’/actresses’ part.
Of course, not every change made for a stronger story presentation. Transitions are not always the best, and some important scenes from the TV anime had to be cut out. The added grandeur and drama in the cinematography also sometimes end up working against the story instead. Still there are some changes that neither strengthen nor detract from the story presentation. Nevertheless, the stunning visuals, the soul-hauntingly beautiful music, the emotional grit of the voice acting, and clever editing all come together nicely, sustaining the flow and impact of the story.
When all’s said and done, the differences between the movies and the original series really aren’t that great. But for returning fans, hardcore or not, even these tiny, subtle changes make the movies worth watching. Through such changes in pacing, in cinematography, in animation and music, and in a small number of tiny additional scenes, Shaft has masterfully presented us with a slightly but meaningfully different perspective and feel of the Madoka story. So while it is not essential to watch the two movies to enjoy Madoka Magica – the original anime is still the core production – do try watching the movies if you ever want to revisit that fantastical and cruel world which came to your doorsteps over a year ago, in the form of a cute, white, cuddly animal.
2: Mahou Shoujo Madoka★Magica Movie 3: Hangyaku no Monogatari
English: Puella Magi Madoka Magica the Movie: Rebellion
Japanese: 劇場版 魔法少女まどか☆マギカ 叛逆の物語
MAL Score: 8.45
The young girls of Mitakihara happily live their lives, occasionally fighting off evil, but otherwise going about their peaceful, everyday routines. However, Homura Akemi feels that something is wrong with this unusually pleasant atmosphere—though the others remain oblivious, she can’t help but suspect that there is more to what is going on than meets the eye: someone who should not exist is currently present to join in on their activities.
Mahou Shoujo Madoka★Magica Movie 3: Hangyaku no Monogatari follows Homura in her struggle to uncover the painful truth behind the mysterious circumstances, as she selfishly and desperately fights for the sake of her undying love in this despair-ridden conclusion to the story of five magical girls.
There’re cliffhanger anime for people to die for a sequel.
There’re even anime that just leaves cliffhangers and never come back.
There’re those garbage anime that you just don’t feel anything at all.
And there’s Madoka, an anime with an amazing story, art, sound, character, but a soulless and downright devilish ending.
There will be absolutely no plot at all, because I want people to understand and be ready for anything.
And, I tell you, you’ll need to be.
[P.S. There are absolutely no plot summaries in here, but the vocabularies and terms I use may indirectly suggest a minor point of the story.]
This story is meant to leave an unsatisfactory ending. The motif is pretty clear: the Bible and the genesis of God and Lucifer.
Come on, our world hasn’t come to an end, has it? A story based on our world, a never-ending cycle of unsatisfactory endings cannot be satisfactory by itself, unless by deception and/or imagination.
Urobuchi, author of Fate/Zero and Madoka among many others, is famous for a seamless plotline. I cannot state that this movie has brought down his fame, because all his stories had dark motifs. Indeed, this movie has left an unsatisfactory ending, but this is a masterpiece, creating an amazing transition between theogenesis and diablogenesis.
How could I dare say that unsatisfying ending crushes this masterpiece?
Imagine Madoka being reanimated with Monogatari: Second Season’s animation technology.
Now add malice to that.
Now add another plot twist to that.
That does not even begin how great the movie was.
The seemingly childish animation was still there, but the malice was all the more heightened, getting into the fine line between creepiness and evilness.
A wise mangaka once stated that drawing a malicious face (not angry face) was not an easy job. He stated that the background, the eye, the position of the panel, the position of the character, darkness, facial expression and etc were all necessary to make one malicious face.
Then how much harder would it be to draw nearly an hour-long malice?
Shaft studio, producers of monogatari series and of course madoka among many others, is known for their ability to, despite using quite “cheating” methods, send chills down the viewers’ spine. Using scenes where the character simply stands, or where the name of the font used or color of the scene or sometimes seemingly scanning the clothings or skirts of an unknown origin, Shaft studio actually makes a great success of delivering an heightened message to the viewers.
And, truth be told, I could not catch a single misgivings about the animation of the movie. When malice was needed, Shaft did their job. When they needed a happy tea time, Shaft did their job. When they needed a battle scene, Shaft did their job. No more colors or fonts. They did their job.
If there’s one criterion I always cut down and attack, it’s the sound. Being a very keen person in sound, I always wanted the producers to use the “perfect” BGMs (of course nothing is perfect but still I can dream?!) at the “perfect” moment. But I have to say it–rebellion nailed it.
The song was as creepy as it could get. The background musics at the moment of realization was so good that I got a chill down my spine and nearly pissed myself (true story). On the opening, ClaRis did their usual mislead. The general “ah, this is a magical girls’ story! There’re absolutely no genre-twisting stories or one of those Urobuchi things in here!” and comforted the slaughter lambs. Then, came the usual malice.
Scary it was.
And somehow, even at the ending, although the song was in major pitch and no double voice or alterations have been added, it was still creepy and malicious. It created a sense of Judas’ kiss, meaning that while the act itself was a beautiful act, the inner sense was dark enough to creep our intestines. If there is one thing that music should do, it is to do that. Even through the electronic amplifiers, music should always deliver the feelings.
Rebellion was an amazing exemplification of this job of music. It did its job when it needed to, creeping our guts out after cleansing our soul with “cute” music, then presenting the “Judas’ kiss”.
Sound–a job well done.
No one expected this.
No one could have expected this.
No one could have seen this coming.
Yet this was inevitable.
Urobuchi always does this. He reveals a down-to-Earth fact that has been in front of our face the whole time yet at the same time a fact that no one has realized.
The development of our main character, Akemi Homura, is wonderfully presented with this motif.
Her “transfiguration” was something no one have realized, yet something so obvious and inevitable that everybody should have known.
I will not go onto further details.
As for minor characters, such as Mami, Sayaka, Kyouko and our all-time hated con artist, MOTHER****ING KYUBEY, they have done their job spectacularly. Every bit of stories they shared and every bit of clues they presented showed and developed the story rapidly. In a way, they “created” the main character. It is always difficult to involve all of the characters and giving all of them important roles. Failure to do so may not be the doom of the anime, but a horrible trial of doing so means the end of the anime and doom of its production. However, Rebellion Story, while providing every character a role, also succeeded in not awkwardly fitting in their roles into the original plot.
It is indeed a job well done.
Now, before you say anything or go away, let me explain myself.
Indeed, this was an amazing movie, and I don’t think any other movie can create a seamless storyline as this one.
However, I didn’t enjoy this at all.
In fact, I don’t think I can ever see the movie again.
It was too soul-breaking that it felt like my soul was breaking apart.
Indeed its story was good, indeed the art was amazing, indeed the sound did its job, indeed the character development was godly.
But I just couldn’t like it.
Still, this was only my opinion. Some people might like it.
In fact, exactly because I liked it, I want people to watch this.
It both critiques the conventional “now everybody’s happy” anime endings and the well-known “good guy always is the good guy” logic and crashes it down to Earth.
Because of this, I have to take off the Enjoyment spectrum out of the overall rate.
It indeed is an important aspect of anime, but not in this one. This movie DOESN’T want you to enjoy the show. And that is exactly why this is great.
Great story, art, sound and character.
It is the work of our lifetime.
Don’t miss it.
If you are in a region where you can go watch the movie, you are blissed.
GO WATCH IT.
IT’S WORTH EVERY PENNY.
Then, happy anime-ing.
I dreaded the day that a sequel came to fruition for Madoka Magica. This was a show that ended on a rather ambiguous note but still left a good, everlasting impression in its original run, hinting that there was really no need for a sequel, an explanation, or an “After Story”, for that matter. I’m not saying I don’t want any more of it, not at all. But seriously, Gen Urobuchi, there’s no way you can write a sequel any better than the original series, especially when your original series was THAT good. So yeah. Like…. just stop.
Okay, I was jumping like a schoolgirl when I heard that there was a new Madoka Magica, but I didn’t have much hope for this one either.
But what I believed to be a mediocre attempt to capture the world by storm and ultimately fail, I was proven wrong. I hate being wrong. I can’t stand the thought of being wrong. To me, being wrong, is just wrong.
Never been happier to be wrong.
Story: What the original series packed was a story that was armed to the teeth with dark undertones and twists so shocking, Lindsay Lohan could be one month sober from her usual crack fiend habits and the power of the message would still be ultimately missing. So when Madoka Magica was renewed for a sequel film, they ultimately took the exact same impact and made it even better. For those of you who have already seen the original (and you HAVE to see it first), you might be wondering, “how does it get any better?” Remember when Madoka transcended into the heavens and became a holy power? Think of this as God’s believer trying to make direct contact.
However, I think the real impact of the film doesn’t happen until much, MUCH later. You’re watching for an hour and thirty minutes and you probably haven’t reached it yet. Ten minutes later, you’re probably…. almost there, and I’m specifying what happens near the end. When you hear from other MAL users about how the ending was a serious shock, nobody knew how to take it, “ending of Oreimo”, all that stuff, that’s all true. But if you still have a vague idea of what they’re talking about, then imagine it this way: life gives you a cookie, then kicks you in the third leg just to take it back (if you don’t have one, forget the reference!). Only difference is, if life does it, you’re rolling on the floor, writhing in pain. The ending to this third movie turns you into Niagara Falls for a while.
The story is just splendid.
Art: Aniplex can screw up just about anything on this list in the eyes of some, but if there’s something a pissed-off fanboy or a nine-year-old shounen rage kid cannot base his bad rating on, it’s the animation. Looks clean, characters move in a crisp and fluid motion, and the Nightmares that appear, while they don’t retain the same animation style as the rest of the characters/scenes, it blends in, oddly enough. If they did those sequences wrong, it would pop out very noticeably, especially given the two conflicting animation styles. Fortunately, there’s a sense of depth, and instead of that bolstered look where a character looks as if they “happen” to appear in the scene, the character looks like they’re actually there (and there is a HUGE difference between the two definitions).
Sound: I’m a fan of ClariS.
…..yeah, moving on…..
Character: I didn’t quite understand Homura’s actions the first time I watched the movie, but after a good runthrough over the exact section I was skeptical about, I had to use my own judgment and speak for myself, “it’s logical, it makes sense.” This is the exact same place in the movie where everyone spreads rumors about Gen Urobuchi “ripping out your hearts and sending you into a black oblivion of nothingness and despair and I’m gonna go kill myself and-” you get the idea. You’ll just have to watch this part for yourself and make your own decision about Homura’s actions (that’s a small spoiler, I think, but I know it’s not enough to spoil the entire thing).
I don’t like forgettable characters. Not the forgettable ones in the sense that we see them once throughout the whole movie and they dick off for the rest of the time to do as they please because we don’t need them. I don’t like forgettable MAIN characters, and while Sayaka was one of the main cast of the original series (and still is), I feel like she was neglected most of the time, and never really got the spotlight even after Kyouko came in, who ended up stealing it (as far as Character Favorites on MAL tells me). With the amount of screen time Sayaka got in the original series, I was impartial about her death. It never struck me as particularly noteworthy. That changes with the third movie. Her role is more defined, we do get to see more of her, and this “more of her” that we see isn’t just a way to give Sayaka fans something to squeal about. This is her own persona, her own contribution, and what I would call redemption from her lack of presence in the first movie. I’m more delighted by the idea that Urobuchi doesn’t neglect to use his characters when he needs them.
Enjoyment: If you can classify “enjoyment” as sitting at home and drowning in my own puddle of tears while watching, then yes, I did enjoy it.
Madoka Magica is one of those shows that never initially grabbed my attention, but then again, it doesn’t take very much to draw me in at the same time. All it needs? Good storyline, good execution, and I can cope with the rest. But while a select number of shows can do a combination of both and I would still point out a flaw or two, and while some will gradually lose my initial attention, Madoka Magica is, for me, a very, VERY difficult show to dislike or change the rating of, or keep my eyes off for that matter. I wasn’t swayed by the hype, I’ve listened to all the criticism, and at the end of the day, this series still stands as one of the best series I’ve seen, if not the absolute best. Even with the ending as controversial as it is, there’s no way I can bring myself to dislike this series. I thought it wasn’t a proper ending, as diehard of a fan as I could be, but I was satisfied having seen it.
And while I have a tendency to associate myself with shoujo and rom-com shows, I’ll have to admit eventually that I loved the action sequences just as equally as the idle explanation scenes. You know, those ones where they just sit around and talk to each other? Yeah, I don’t know why I like those scenes. Maybe I’m just weird.
Overall: I think everyone who previously didn’t know I like watching anime and everyone who does know has heard this from me at least twice within the past two days: WATCH THIS MOVIE. If I keep this up, I probably won’t have a social life. Whatever the case, I don’t think I’ve been this hyped over an anime show, nor have I had such a strong desire to watch it again.
Maybe I’m being biased because this is my favorite show, and maybe I’m missing something here and I failed to pick it up, and while this third movie may probably be one of those shows that will still get bogged down on hype alone, there’s no reason for any of that. It’s brilliant, it’s well-thought-out, and it really doesn’t need any of its hype to prove its worth.
The final chapter in the highly acclaimed Madoka trilogy/show has come to a close, and studio Shaft has closed this book right (if not heart wrenching). The story is all tied to Homura after the events of the first two films. We follow her as the story travels down a road most fans never saw coming, but since this is the final chapter there is an end to this road. A very fitting end. I won’t go into detail because of spoiler reasons, but some fans might feel crossed (Homura’s actions during the final moments of the film). Thematically speaking this series has always been about the balance of hope and despair. How the influx of these two emotions create the balance of the world. I feel that once you see the film (and are done crying in a puddle of tears), if you think about what the show has been leading up to, then there is no other way this could have ended. Also there is some excellent fan pandering in the film. Several fights, and scenes were crafted for your viewing pleasure and entertainment. Which this being the final film I really appreciated (mainly in the beginning of the movie). Very minor complaints are near the beginning of the film tho. Lets just say it is a little jarring (for a good reason of course), and takes a little while to get going. Once it gets moving however it never stops, which is a good thing given the run time of the film. Overall an excellently crafted narrative, and conclusion to the series. Filled with tid bits, and nods to the fans of the series. What more could you ask for from a final chapter? For me at least, nothing.
I’ve always been a fan of the style of animation in the Madoka franchise. The artistic nature of the backgrounds, and the world I have always found incredibly appealing. Here is no different. The world is beautifully rendered, and full of little details brimming with color and imagination. The Character designs are top notch as well. Fans will be happy to know there is also new transformation scenes, which look fantastic as well. The fights in this hold a cinematic quality to it that I just don’t see in Anime all that often. They were fluid and fast, which added to the spectacle of what was going on. If the Madoka animation hasn’t shined you on in the past then I don’t think this one will do anything different. For fans on the other hand, they will be happy.
The rule of thumb, besides pure enjoyment, that I use for judging an OST is if it amplifies the tone of the film. All to fitting is what I can say. The music moves with the scenes, and allows the audience to feel connected to it that much more. The voice acting as well is top notch. Saito, Chiwa delivers a fantastic performance as Homura, which is a good thing considering this is her show. Everyone else was great across the board, but her specifically was a stand out.
Everyone is back this time around including some new additions. Of course the spot light is on Homura in this film, and this journey for her has been a rough one. It truly is heart breaking. Now like I said earlier some fans will be split on Homura’s actions in the latter half of this film. So it is up to you to decide on how you feel at the end, but for me it was tragic in a good way. I’ve rarely ever felt more understanding, and sympathetic for a character. This is the fruition of her development, and it is damn good. Concerning the rest of the cast, none of them were really side lined, except for the new addition, Nagisa. Nagisa is the new “magical girl” in the film, and she is underused. Which I am actually fine with considering I came to see the characters I have grown to love, but then I just think back to why she was there to start with (fan service probably). Anyways it was great to see everyone for one last show, and minus the addition of Nagisa, they brought their all.
This film broke my heart in all the right ways, and I will take good story telling over happy any day. Filled with moments that made me want to cheer, and sink into a pit of sadness; this final film was what I needed in my life.
Like all good books one has to reach the last page sometime, and this closing chapter delivers. As a fan I would recommend this to anyone who has enjoyed the original series/films (because they are necessary for this one). If Madoka was never your thing then this won’t win you over. Fantastic characters, story, art, and sound, nothing more to really say except one hell of a good film, and I can’t wait to watch it again. As always thanks for reading.
1: Perfect Blue
English: Perfect Blue
MAL Score: 8.51
J-pop idol group CHAM! has spent the last two years entertaining its fans. Sadly, all good things must come to an end, and CHAM! must see one of its members, Mima Kirigoe, leave the group to pursue her acting career. While Mima’s choice is met with a mixed response, she hopes her fans will continue to support her.
However, Mima’s life begins to change drastically after her departure from the group. Wanting to shed her pop-idol image, she takes on a role in a crime drama series, and her career as an actress gradually becomes more demanding and taxing for both Mima and her manager, Rumi Hidaka. To add to Mima’s growing unease, an obsessed fan who is incapable of accepting that Mima has quit being an innocent idol, begins stalking her; a new anonymous website begins to impersonate her life with intricate detail; and CHAM! also appears to be doing better without her. One by one, each disturbing development drives Mima to become increasingly unhinged and unable to distinguish reality from fantasy.
Novel, Anime: Perfect Blue was originally a novel written by Yoshikazu Takeuchi. When, I’m not really sure; there’s not a lot of information about it.
The movie itself was done by Oniro, directed by Satoshi Kon, and was released in 1997.
Story: The story is centered around Mima Kirigoe, the lead member of a pop trio who’s decided to go solo as an actress. Her small recurring role in a direct-to-video series ends up turning into a big break, but the part and a subsequent photo shoot involves… compromising situations, to say the least. On top of all this, she’s got a stalker that knows every intimate detail about her life and is posting it on the Internet. And then the murders start, and her sanity starts fraying…
This film was Satoshi Kon’s big break, and you know why when you watch it. The line between reality and fantasy blurs more and more as the film goes on, and you wonder if it’s either all in her head, part of the direct-to-video series, or for real. And you will be scared. I was watching this in broad daylight in my dorm on move-in day for the returning students, and I was still scared out of my wits. And the plot twists. My god, the plot twists. In general, the plot is going to blow you out of the water.
As for faithfulness to the original, I’ve found tidbits that said that Kon didn’t think that the original novel would make a good film, and so he asked permission from Takeuchi to change things. He got the permission, so long as the original story concepts were intact. For those who were looking for a faithful adaptation, there is a live-action film called Perfect Blue: Yume Nara Samete that was released in 2002 and directed by Toshiki Sato.
You can tell how old the film is, though, when the main character is trying to figure out how to use a computer/the Intarnet. xD
WARNING: There is rape, there is detailed nudity, there is very graphic violence, and lots and lots of blood. I’m not kidding when I say that you should only be watching this if you’re over 17. Kiddies, and those who are squeamish, stay far away from this movie.
Art: This film was done back in ’97, so yeah, the style’s going to look a bit dated. But when you compare the animation with other shows that were airing about the same time (Pokemon, Sailor Moon StarS, to name a few), it doesn’t seem to be quite as good as it possibly could be. The main reason for that was that during production, the Kobe earthquake hit the production studio (Madhouse), and the film’s budget was reduced from one for a live-action movie to that of an OVA. Not the greatest art out there during the time, but given the situation that they had to work with, it’s still pretty decent.
Music: The pop numbers that Mima’s trio does (CHAM!) are pretty catchy. And the other music that’s played only heightens the suspense. Pretty good, overall.
Seiyuu: As usual, no problems here. Mima’s seiyuu is outstanding (she later went on to play Tomoyo in Cardcaptor Sakura, Ceres in Ceres: Celestial Legend, and Akane in My-HiME (Higurashi), My-Otome and My-Otome Zwei (Soir)).
Dub: N/A, didn’t watch it.
Length: I honestly don’t know what more they could’ve done with this film; the film wraps up at close to an hour and a half. (Actually, knowing Kon, maybe I don’t want to know.) And it seems just right, because of the fast pace that it clips along at, while still managing to make sure that everything that the audience needs to understand is included.
Overall: An amazing, if not perfectly animated, psychological thriller that will have you wondering just what’s real here and clinging to your nearest cuddly.
Overall: 44/50; 88% (B)
As always, my reviews are spoiler free.
You know you have done something right when someone can completely associate your name with a genre. For Satoshi Kon, that genre is Psychological Thriller (or mindf**k, if you prefer). All his works (perhaps with the exception of Tokyo Godfathers, which is still fantastic) explore this genre differently, some deeper than others, but from Paranoia Agent to Millennium Actress he clearly shows his abilities as a director. Of all his works, I think his first, Perfect Blue, is my favorite.
Story – 10/10
Our story begins with Kirigoe Mima, a member of a pop idol group, deciding to give up her singing career for a future as an actress. This decision leads to a string of events that will change her life forever, as well those around her. What begins with sinister phone calls and faxes becomes a paranoid fight for her life with a stalker; a stalker with a warped view of reality to say the least. Mima’s career as an actor is not as glamorous as she expected either, leading to outrage among her fans and incredible stress for her manager and friend, Hidaka Rumi. As mysterious acts of violence are committed around her, Mima’s view of reality begins to change.
The story explores a number of topics that few other works in the medium discuss, such as the loss of innocence and the perception of reality. It tackles these tough subjects without forcing them upon the viewer, as they are slowly immersed into the twisted world of Mima’s life.
As much as I would love to continue to praising the story, I cannot bring myself to do it. It is something that must be experienced and not spoiled. And that ending… Wow.
Animation – 8/10
Released in 1997, this movie will of course look dated when compared to the work of today. When it is compared to other works of the time, however, it stands out with great fluidity. Some of the artistic choices are a bit strange, especially the character designs, but there is nothing that will detract from the experience, especially if one manages to acquire a Blu-ray release.
One outstanding factor is the cinematography. The angle of scenes being changed gives a certain amount of depth of vision most other series cannot come close to matching, even today.
I will be giving animation an 8/10, keeping in mind that it should be compared with other anime produced in the 90s.
Sound – 7/10
The soundtrack is haunting and disorienting. Much like that of well made horror movies, a feeling of suspense can be gradually built and released, or suddenly come to a climax. However, there is nothing worthy in and of itself, and the songs CHAM!, Mima’s idol group, sings are grating on the ears at best.
Character – 10/10
Mima is developed very extensively throughout the movie, as she is the sole protagonist. Personally, I developed a great attachment to her throughout the movie, sharing her fear, depression, and confusion. She makes a fantastic protagonist, and as I mentioned above, wonderfully illustrates the theme of loss of innocence.
The supporting cast does well, with Rumi and her stalker being the main side characters. Rumi is developed very well herself, especially in the later half of the series as the story is tied together. The stalker, while far less explored, still has his motivations clearly explained and the viewer gets a fantastic look into a deranged mind.
Overall, it has one of the best protagonists I have ever seen, and a strong supporting cast.
Enjoyment – 10/10
If you are a fan of suspense, mystery, drama, thrillers… you will love this. Perfect Blue appeals to so many psychological elements and has such an intricate setup that it can be watched again and again, noticing new things each time. The second watch can be even better with than the first; once you know the end, you can trace the story backwards to the origin.
I would not recommend this to fans of mindless action, comedy, or SOL. It is not by any means a “light watch.” But if you are willing to sit back and let it totally absorb you, I can’t possibly think of a better way to spend your time.
This movie contains fully uncensored nudity and graphic sexual scenes. There is a significant amount of violence as well, but it is not too gory. I would still strongly advise against younger viewers watching this.
If you enjoyed this movie, you should immediately acquire and watch everything that Satoshi Kon ever directed. I don’t think you will be disappointed.
I give this movie a 9/10, with the only improvements I could wish for would be a slightly better soundtrack and a fresh coat of animation (give it to ufotable, they would be perfect).
Thanks for reading.
Thinking about who you are and why you are this person may often cause your thoughts to clash amongst one another. This is strongly shown in the main character Mima Kirigoe. The story is truly some of the best writing I’ve ever seen. Its a mix of linear progression and short time jumps. This enhances the disarray shown in Mima. All of the scenes show believable emotion on what a character might do faced with the situation. The story is very unique in the way it ties together what is a dream and what is reality. Mima aspiring to be an actor allows this story to use clever writing to really add mystery and delusion while maintaing truth. The pacing is flawless. When it begins to steamroll watching for the first time you will be asking what the hell is going on a lot. It can be a very exciting show with thought provoking themes. It is accompanied by some less then easy to watch moments. They add to the emotional strain on Mima pulling her mind apart but may not be watchable by everyone. This is a masterpiece of complex emotional thoughts and detailed writing, used in the telling of the story which ties together everything in the end.
The art shows beautiful symbolism. Tones are darkened slightly to add an extra layer of mystery an unease. It has a realistic world and character design to it. Each character’s look matches their personality extremely well. The eyes on the creeper characters give a twisted feeling to them. Mima switches from upbeat and happy to paranoid or depressed effortlessly. Its never out of place for the scene in the story. Watching the Art techniques used to portray confusion in Mima’s mind, believing a glass door isn’t there, or the splash a puddle makes (or doesn’t) is the necessary details that make this movie wonderful. The heavy blurs mixing dream and reality the quick transitions tying plot together with story progression while maintaing illusion is executed flawlessly in Perfect Blue.
The soundtrack fits the story at every scene. Its eerie and frighting when it needs to be an able to switch immediately to a lighter mood with the Pop songs without totally losing the emotion from before. The sound overall from camera flashes to violent climaxes along with all of the voice acting (Viewed Subbed Version) is amazing. I personally enjoyed the distorting of one of the “CHAM!” songs to accompany a scene that otherwise would feel out of place. This allowed for the story to mix emotions that wouldn’t be seen together otherwise. It was a nice trick further showing the brilliant writing shown throughout both the Art and Sound.
I want to be very careful on how I explain the characters as their development is truly at the core of the story. All the supporting characters fit their role in the story exceptionally well. The choices and decision made are believable. They have realistic ideas and goals shown in the story that define the decisions they make. The characters have common afflictions which relates them to one another in multiple ways. The devoplment of Mima is shockingly beautiful to say the least. I felt I could understand some of the feelings she had in choosing to become a different person and the difficulty in leaving part of your life behind. All of the characters feel real even just the filling ones talking about the gossip revolving around Mima’s life.
This is a truly unique story with a beautifully integrate plot, a perfectly toned art style, exceptionally well scored soundtrack, and believable an interesting characters. The story is gritty and bold as well as exciting and impassioned. If you are looking for a show that will get your mind thinking and are able to handle a few disheartening scenes. You will lose your thoughts within the chaos of perfection that is Perfect Blue.
“Like I Care! I Am Who I Am!!.” Mima Kirigoe.
Did YOUR favorite anime make the cut? Let us know in the comments below!
1. Perfect Blue
2. Mahou Shoujo Madoka★Magica Movie 3: Hangyaku no Monogatari
3. Mahou Shoujo Madoka★Magica Movie 2: Eien no Monogatari
4. Mahou Shoujo Madoka★Magica Movie 1: Hajimari no Monogatari
5. Omoide no Marnie
7. Tekkon Kinkreet
8. Kotonoha no Niwa
9. xxxHOLiC Movie: Manatsu no Yoru no Yume
10. Mind Game
12. Re:Zero kara Hajimeru Isekai Seikatsu – Hyouketsu no Kizuna
13. Mardock Scramble: The First Compression
14. Mardock Scramble: The Third Exhaust
16. Mardock Scramble: The Second Combustion
17. Dead Leaves
18. Mahou Shoujo Madoka★Magica: Concept Movie
20. Wata no Kuni Hoshi
21. Kuro no Su: Chronus
22. Dwaeji-ui Wang
25. Ch oS;Child: Silent Sky
26. Atama Yama
28. Darkside Blues
29. Tamala 2010: A Punk Cat in Space
30. Da Shi Jie
31. Buddha Saitan
32. Eikyuu Kazoku
33. Ninja & Soldier
34. Shijin no Shougai
35. Taneyamagahara no Yoru
38. Wake up!! Tamala
40. Nisou no Kuzu
41. Hand Soap
42. Yoru no Hi
44. Nouryou Anime: Denkyuu Ika Matsuri
45. Great Rabbit
46. Kodomo no Kaitei no Koto
48. Red Colored Bridge