They’re the best Anime that 1991 has to offer! We counts down the best anime to come out this year, including the likes of Tobe! Kujira no Peek, Mobile Suit Gundam F91, Urusei Yatsura Movie 6: Itsudatte My Darling, and more!
5: Tobe! Kujira no Peek
English: Fly! Peek the Whale
Japanese: とべ! くじらのピーク
MAL Score: 6.08
The story of an albino whale used in a circus, and the efforts of young children to free him from captivity.
4: Mobile Suit Gundam F91
English: Mobile Suit Gundam F91
MAL Score: 6.66
In the year 123 of the Universal Century, skirmishes between the Federation government and the rebel group Crossbones Vanguard echo across Earth’s space colonies. One of these small battles breaks in the hometown of young Seabook Arno, forcing him and his friends to flee and ensnaring them in the political turmoil that is quickly evolving into an all-out war.
Seabook meets Cecily Fairchild, granddaughter of the aristocrat Meitzer Ronah, who seeks to create a new political power called “Cosmo Babylonia.” Using the Crossbone Vanguard as its muscle, the Ronah family schemes to restore aristocratic rule and establish an economic system that will benefit the nobility, thus devastating the quality of life for the common people of the Earth Sphere.
Seabook is tasked with piloting the Gundam F91, a mobile suit created by his mother, and must choose between protecting the status Federation’s status quo or cooperating with Cecily to find a better way of life for all.
The opening to this movie blew me away. When a gigantic bullet casing, falling from a mecha’s weapon, bounced off a lady’s head on a street far below, causing her to fall over and die, I instantly gave this a 10.
This is the kind of movie I was hoping Char’s Counterattack would be. A coherent and compelling movie charting everything we love about the Gundam franchise. The horror and tragedy of war, the visceral action and drama, the complexity and ambiguities of ideologies, mecha blowing shit up.
Char’s Counterattack had all that, but to me felt like you were tuning into a movie midway through; you were thrown into a situation that you weren’t introduced to properly. It had too much plot machinations and not enough breathing space for characters, too many ideas and not enough execution. F91 however does it all correctly.
Yes, F91 is the outcome of a full TV series being cancelled midway through pre-production, and turned into a movie instead, but the movie does not reflect that at all. It does not feel incomplete or flawed beyond redemption, it actually feels like a prologue to an epic 50 episode saga, one that we won’t mind missing out on because there’s too many ways they can end up generic and tiresome, much like the Gundam show F91 is the continuation of: Mobile Suit Gundam ZZ.
The only negative thing I can say about this movie is that some of the scenes with the Crossbone Vanguard aristocracy are a bit too long and feel obligatory, but they’re still essential to understanding their motives, so they’re not a complete waste of time. Obviously there’s no villain on par with Char Aznable, but it would be too much to expect one.
Where this movie shines, and what we should focus on, is the attention to detail, like the aforementioned woman-killing gigantic bullet, the reimagining of the tropes of the genre that Mobile Suit Gundam introduced back in 1979, such as survivors of an attack forced to become soldiers, and the ambiguous motivations that spur men to want to kill millions of human beings for a greater good.
Another negative thing about F91 is the total rip-off of the Empire Strikes Back bad guys theme. I’m not a SW geek so I don’t know the actual title, but it’s probably ‘Imperial March’ or something.
But other than these small nitpicks (and the fact that the MSG Random Slap ratio is pretty damn low) it’s an awesome movie with brilliant animation that puts A LOT of today’s anime to shame. And it hilariously keeps up another MSG tradition: stupid names for characters: Seabook.
It’s not the name of a prize-winning race horse. It’s our main hero.
Remember it. Remember F91, don’t let it get overshadowed by other Gundam shows, this one is an accomplishment.
Due to disputes amongst the original production staff, this ill-fated chapter of the universal century gundam saga was cut down in size in a rather extreme extent. F91 tells the tale of Seabook Arno and the crew of the Space Arc, a spaceship of civilians trying to escape the conflict between the Earth Federation and the Crossbone Vanguard, a faction led by the Ronah aristocratic family. As usual, the protagonist is forced into the cockpit of the gundam in amidst of the chaos and destruction on the civilian population and is bound there by his obligation to protect friends and family. While F91 certainly does not make new ground in the way of plot creativity, it does incorporate many of the key themes in the gundam franchise with great success. There are a number of solid lessons and morals to be learned in F91, and though there is very little originality amongst them, they provide the film with much-welcomed substance.
However, after the first third of the film, the plot begins to lurch forward erratically. Viewers are expected to connect the dots in places where considerable lines of narrative have been truncated. Names, faces, places, and political intrigue are constantly thrown at the viewer and are gone before the viewer gets a chance to absorb them. The end product manages to be more or less coherent, but much of the plot is lost and damaged due to the lack of elaboration. Needless to say, this does not make for good entertainment.
Fortunately, the production value of F91 is that of a feature film rather than a TV series. Like other Gundam OVAs and films of its era, the action looks great — arguably superior to the modern TV productions. The new generation of mobile suits (three decades past the technology of Char’s Counterattack) have a number of new tricks, which makes for eye candy that will please most mecha fans.The 1991 character designs also hold up well to the test of time, though looks alone would not be able to veil the considerable flaws in characterization. Though Seabook Arno is a mature and charismatic gundam protagonist, due to the limited runtime and the large cast, most key characters are not very well developed, hence some of their actions they take seem incomprehensible. Thankfully, none of the characters manage to be obnoxious and repulsive. F91 is accompanied by a mediocre musical score that is sparingly used, though viewers will find a great theme song and plenty of classic sci-fi sound effects, for better or for worse.
There’s a great story in F91 dying to get out — a story forever lost to the squabbles of yesteryear. Chances are, if you’re a gundam fan, you will leave Mobile Suit Gundam F91 satisfied to some degree under the laments of disappointment over its lost potential. If you are new to the gundam franchise, there are much better choices than F91 for your entry point into the metaseries. And if you’re not a fan of gundam or mecha in general, F91 is not going to convince you otherwise.
– Great animation
– Gundam veterans will be able to appreciate the remains of the amputated plot
– Barely coherent
– Underdeveloped characters
– Bland musical score
Potential is something that can be rather frustrating or even tragic when unfulfilled, depending on the circumstances. If nothing went wrong in terms of production and the product simply wastes its potential thanks to bad writing, it can be rather irritating. For better or for worse, Gundam F91, Yoshiyuki Tomino’s attempt at creating a new UC Gundam saga, is certainly the latter. It’s like a rising college football player dying of CTE, with the victim being unable to tap into its potential for reasons far beyond its control. What was planned as a full 52 episode series reduced to a mere 13, and those 13 being gutted to create a film that was clearly not meant to be one. It’s ultimately not the movie’s fault that it’s bad, it was never meant to be one in the first place until executive meddling damned this project.
Installments like this are a testament to the importance of pacing. Since the events of this movie were originally meant to be 13 episodes, it only makes sense that a lot of information and character/world-building would be taken out. Unfortunately, this is of huge detriment to the movie. I mean, starting your saga almost verbatim like the original and having other important similarities is already not much of a good thing, but when character progressions/decisions and deaths are unexplained or not explained well at all, that’s when we have a problem. There are multiple emotional scenes in this movie such as the initial attack on the main cast’s homeland, the death of Seabook’s dad, and the reunion of Seabook and his mom, all of which don’t leave nearly as much of an impact because the bad pacing didn’t allow us to establish anything properly, giving us little time or reason to care before tragedy or even tear-inducing happiness strikes.
There are other problems, some of which also involve cutting. The subplot about Cecily’s earrings goes absolutely nowhere since I think it probably would’ve become more important later on if this were to have been the 4-cour series this was meant to be, at one point, they cut from the middle of a major battle to a scene way later where Seabook snuck out on his own (how and when did he do that, and where is the city he want back to in relation to the base he and his friends are at?) which raises a ton of problems, even aside from the ones above, since it’s probably the worst and most unnecessary cut yet. There is no reason we couldn’t have seen Seabook’s first major battle in full since it probably would’ve only lasted a few more minutes. Did they really need this movie to not go past the two hour mark? If so, there were probably other ways to trim the movie down a bit more. The finale is ok and probably the most interesting part of this movie, but the ride to get there got gutted badly. Regardless, we’re not getting a more fleshed out retelling of this (or the rest of what Tomino wanted this to originally be), and that saddens me because this movie really needed to be the way it was intended for it to actually be good.
As mentioned previously, part of the reason the characters aren’t very good is that the pacing doesn’t allow us to really get invested in them whatsoever, sullying a lot of the emotional impact behind the drama they face. When the introduction is a bunch of our protagonists bickering at each other, it’s hard to really feel a sting when their homeland gets attacked, and when some of them die, not only is it not that impactful since we hardly get to establish a connection with these people before the attack that happens 5 minutes into the movie, but some of these guys we don’t see until sometime into the attack, mere minutes before their death. The main villain is a typical royal imperial who doesn’t remove his mask or have much of a personality, and the grandfather is only there for a few brief moments and is just a father who has to put on the royal guise of the Rohan family, but there’s hardly much to them. Like with the protagonists I’ll be mentioning, if they allowed this to be as it was intended, we probably could’ve fleshed them out a bit more to make them more interesting.
Seabook is basically another Amuro Ray in practically every sense of the word, including the fact that a parent of his left to work on the Gundam he would end up piloting by chance. Hell, his mom just appears in the movie with no introduction and then they bond but thanks to the aforementioned issues, it doesn’t sell as well as it should. His sister is initially very perceptive of her mom’s true feelings and self for her age but then when she actually meets her she acts like her mom is not a good person, which is rather inconsistent. It’s not like the former is realistic for a child but then to switch to the latter for no apparent reason other than their dad dying while escorting Seabook, is really jarring. Cecily is a princess character who hangs out with and sympathizes with the common people, enough so that she initially forsook the throne like her mother did and then did so again just to be with her friends after realizing that the Rohans are just as bad as ever. At least it’s a fresh spin on a trope that would be as tired as a sloth. No other character is with really bringing up however, like the typical arrogant prince character, a girl who only switches to the good guy side because her master took interest in Cecily (why she has disdain for her, we’ll never know), and her master who has a grudge against the Rohans and let’s the good guys go in the end. I don’t need to reiterate the potential lost for character building, do I? No? Ok, moving on.
Much like Char’s Counterattack, while the writing is lackluster at best, the visuals are some of the best not only in the franchise, but in its respective decade. The character designs look pretty appealing, the mech shading is great, and the action and animation is all very fluid and simply a wonder to look at. The sheer detail and fluidity is something to grasp at and all of this simply executed the best of what 90’s animation had to offer, even though it came out very early into that decade, and it looks even better than Char’s Counterattack, which already had some of the best-looking and most fluidly animated visuals of the 80’s. The mech designs look great as well, especially the F91 and the Vigna Gina (what a laughable name by the way). Even with everything bad I’ve said about this film, at least it was able to look so gorgeous that to this day, it is still a top contender for the title of most well-animated Gundam anime.
Another similarity between the two films is that the OST isn’t that memorable. The OST for F91 is at least better than CCA’s due to it sounding more cinematic. I also prefer this film’s ED titled “Eternal Wind” to CCA’s ED. It’s a peaceful yet somewhat emotional track, though I do find it a bit odd that it sounds like it was recorded live instead of how songs usually sound in all non-live venues. Regardless, this is a decent OST for the movie.
Bad pacing and cutting aside, this film feels rather milquetoast, minus the emotional scenes that invariably fail to strike a chord with me. The action was somewhat entertaining and well animated, and it was pretty cool to see all of the new developments in technology since the events of CCA (I especially love the laser flag) but overall, my experience felt rather meh, not even in a borderline zen way but like when you watch a show with your kids and feel nothing other than just “well this is a thing I’m watching”. The fact that I have no real emotion at all during the film barring certain minor points really sells how ineffectual this film really is. It’s basically a throwaway movie.
This movie feels like the first special edition recap to a mediocre series we were robbed of. It’s a real shame since this was supposed to be a grand and involved jumpstart of a new saga in the Universal Century timeline. We all know the story now, and I think it’s really sad what happened here. Now, all we’re left with is this unfortunately mediocre movie, regardless of how visually stunning it is. At the same time, what was presented here might not even be compelling if it went as planned. I’m not sure if that hurts more or less than the idea that the material was at all promising. Well, with all that said, I think it’s time to bury this one and hope for a revival. Either we hope for that or hope for an adaptation of the Crossbone manga.
3: Urusei Yatsura Movie 6: Itsudatte My Darling
English: Urusei Yatsura Movie 6: Always My Darling
Japanese: うる星やつら いつだって マイ ダーリン
MAL Score: 6.83
Lupica, another one of the legion of space princesses that all seem to have found out about Earth in some tour book, appears and abducts Ataru!
But Lupica isn’t after Ataru for his great looks or charming personality (because he doesn’t have either). Lupica’s goal is the greatest love potion in the galaxy, which she intends to use to induce her sweetheart to tie the knot. To get it, she needs the possessor of the greatest lust in the universe…
I hesitate to write a review for this movie. It’s known in the UY community as one of the worst of the series. I actually waited a few weeks while I fully digested this movie to edit my review, something I normally don’t think is necessary. Honestly, the longer time goes by the more generous I usually am with a score. That wasn’t the case here, because once I started reading the synopsis, I was given a PTSD flashback. As a note, I enjoyed this movie because it is UY, not because it is a good movie. Scores are given relative to the original series.
For comparison, I loved the series, giving it a score of 10.
If you’re going for the “Complete UY” achievement, I suggest watching this around episode 190 in the series so that you have some decent material left to make you forget about this atrocity.
The story is not a bad concept, but it just feels so familiar. I kept feeling like I’ve seen it before. I can see some similarities to “The Final Chapter,” but I wouldn’t say it’s a direct copy by any means. However, that isn’t the biggest problem, because if it was, I think the story would still earn a decent score. Looking at the movie, it feels like every idea put on the drawing board somehow made it into the final product. Furthermore, it feels like one giant best of segment, where the “best ofs” are situations and script, as opposed to just a re-airing. Seriously, the entire movie seems to do nothing but reference the series, while surrounded by a slightly different story. As a result, the story ends up feeling like a jumbled hot mess. There are a number of “false endings,” most notably at the 30 minute mark, where I was a bit shocked to see that I wasn’t even halfway through yet. Then there are times where it jumps around so quickly, that coherency is broken. UY is no stranger to bat-shit crazy, but still within the madness there was some type of coherency. This movie felt like the story board director fell asleep during production and then woke up at the premier.
The art was worse than the series. Sometimes faces were incredibly bland and featureless, other times main characters looked strange. The art in the series and every other movie was not only better, but cleaner. Remember when I said there was no coherency about the storyline? Well there is coherency between the story line and the art. Both are incredibly choppy and jump around. A bit dizzying, honestly. So much stuff happens so quickly that at times I felt like I had whiplash.
As for sound, I can only guess that they didn’t have the money in the budget to hire a real orchestra. Not only is the music writing generally bad, but the vast majority sounds like it was, at the very least, recorded on a keyboard. That’s being nice, because it really sounds like they just had a computer midi program play it back. They would’ve been better off just using the series’ original score. It would’ve been cheap, I would’ve still mentioned that it was a cop-out, but it would’ve gotten a better score and actually been good. Acting is on par with the rest of the series.
Then let’s talk about how the movie’s goal seemed to be a cameo of every character ever used in the series. Kinda like it was a cameo of every situation that happened in the series. Ten’s mother? Suddenly on earth standing in a random crowd of people on the street. The Phantom Red Mantle? Chillin’ outside a bar on a different planet. Almost every background character was a character from the series at some point. It was ridiculous and distracting.
Is there anything I like about “Always My Darling?” Sure. The very last scene with Cherry was classic UY and made me laugh. I laughed at the scene before that as well, not because it was good, but because of it’s absurd “suddenly we’re all friends” approach to Lupika. And therein lies the problem, if there was anything I did like about this movie, it’s overshadowed by the blatant money grab this poorly executed movie was.
I think, at heart, the storyline had potential despite being a homologation of most of the other story arcs. Honestly, had the story been executed properly and many of the reference-to-a-past-joke scenes been eliminated, I probably wouldn’t have noticed its repetitive plot.
I enjoyed this movie because it is UY, not because it is a good movie. The story isn’t bad, but it is plagued by poor execution. Along with the art editing, it just jumps around too much and is really annoying. The music is just plain bad. If you want the UY achievement for watching all of the series/OVAs/movies, you’ll have to sit through this long 77 minute movie, otherwise, I’d just skip it.
I’ll keep this short, the storyline behind this film feels like they took specific parts of previous Urusei Yatsura films and stitched them together to make…this. I won’t summarize the plot, because I’ll sound like a broken record, but if you made it this far into Urusei Yatsura and read the synopsis for this film, you know exactly what’s going to happen. None of it was bad in any way, but you’ve seen it all before. It had some goofy moments that made laugh, and some sad moments that made me a little emotional. It’s just Urusei Yatsura, that’s all. The story wasn’t exceptional, but it wasn’t underwhelming either. It was just mediocre. I do love the scene where Ataru tricks his entire class and manipulates them into doing random stuff for the love potion. Mendo threatens to kill Ataru if he doesn’t tell him where it is, but Ataru can’t tell them where it is if he’s dead, so he takes advantage of them. That was a great scene, but it didn’t last all that long.
The music is not worth mentioning. It sounds just like the other songs from the last couple of films. Something that is worth mentioning are the character designs. I love them! I briefly mentioned in my last review that over time, the character designs, with each film were becoming more refined and expressive. I think the characters look fine in any specific way they’re drawn; even in the first film. Always My Darling did an excellent job at giving these characters a more updated 90’s look, it fits them very well. It looks like I’m watching Ranma ½! They have the exact same character designs, and at this point, Takahashi’s art style had changed a lot over a decade.
This film was okay. It had it’s moments, but it wasn’t all that good. I’m still putting it ahead of Remember My Love, because that film feels so uninspired and dry compared to the other films. Keep in mind, the gap in quality between Remember My Love and Always My Darling is not that big. I’m giving it a slight edge, only because I found more enjoyment out of this film. And with that, I’M DONE REVIEWING THESE MOVIES! Took some time, and a few pair of eyeballs, but I’m done. This movie gets a 6 out of 10. I’m gonna go watch Ranma ½ for the umpteenth time. Later, fuckfaces (￣▽￣)ノ.
Movies: 3 < 6 < 1 < 4 < 2 < 5 Story: 4/10 Art: 7/10 Sound: 5/10 Characters: 6/10 Enjoyment: 7/10 Overall: 6/10 [/collapse]
2: Roujin Z
English: Roujin Z
MAL Score: 7.05
The Z Project was intended to give the new generation a break from caring for the old. The original intenion was to create a machine to care for them without any intervention. At first glance, it looked like an excellent plan, and many of the younger generation approved of its application. But when old Mr. Takazawa become the test subject for the Z-001 machine, Haruko questioned both the tactics of the hospital and the moral implications of the machine. This is just the beginning, as Haruko has not just the hospital, but the odds against her. But then, she discovers an odd quirk about the machine: it uses a biochip, and it eventually acquires a mind of its own!
[collapse title=“Reviews1:”]Roujin Z is a futuristic, satirically funny, morality tale written by the reknowned Otomo Katsuhiro, more well known for the classic manga and anime Akira. The movie was directed by Kitakubo Hiryuki (Blood: The Last Vampire, Black Magic M-66), and received a great degree of critical acclaim, partly because it was written by Otomo Katsuhiro, but mainly because it was a movie that showed how anime was able to deal with themes that conventional filmmakers would find extremely difficult to cope with, especially given the time of it’s release.
The story is set in the 21st century, and opens with the alarming news that there are too many old people in the world. Now, as everyone knows, healthcare is always a hot topic in political circles, and Roujin Z is no exception. The story in Roujin Z is satirical in the main, but it has disturbing echoes in the real world. The medical students in Roujin Z consider Geriatric care to be a career deadend, something that is also widely believed in the real world, and because of this, funding is provided for the development of the ultimate in geriatric care – the Z-001 "Superbed".
The Z-001 is designed to provide the patient with everything that they need, including home entertainment, baths, massages, attending to bathroom functions, performing diagnoses (and administering medication), etc, etc. The machine is powered by a mini atomic reactor, and is designed to function autonomously in the event of power shortages. The Z-001 is viewed as the future of geriatric care, and as a godsend to the young doctors and nurses and much of the populace, all of whom are unaware of the somewhat sinister nature behind the design of the Z-001.
Another aspect of the story is the inclusion of the Japanese belief that spirits can exist in any object, something which becomes a major theme later on in the movie.
The art and animation in the movie aren’t really anything special. Generally the production is sturdy and well animated, but there is nothing really spectacular about it. The sound is equally well done, yet nothing special. My only gripe is that, with the english dub, the dialogue between the VAs tended to vary too much in style, intonation, and accent, from one person to another. Although the english dub is definitely watchable, I prefer the japanese dub on the whole.
There aren’t many real characters in this story. The main two charcters are Takazawa Kujiro, the dying old man who is chosen as the test patient for the Z-001 prototype, and his nurse Haruko, who is against the idea of machines taking care of humans, especially her patients. Add to these two a mixture of police, scientists, politicians, military types, and student nurses.
Although the two main characters get much of the screen time, the real star of the show (in both the japanese and the english dub), is the Z-001 (if I explain more it would spoil the show).
Roujin Z is a bit of an odd movie on the whole, but an enjoyable one nonetheless. The movie itself addresses a theme that is becoming more and more relevant in the world, especially as people are now living longer than ever before. The fact that politicians and scientists come up with a method of geriatric care that has all the warmth and empathy of a thrown knife is a central part of the film, as is the callous disregard given to those people who allowed us to get where we are today.
This movie would appeal to many fans of many different genres, most especially fans of sci fi or black comedies. The film is darkly satirical from beginning to end, and is surprising in how openly it attacks the idea that simply caring for the body is caring for the patient.
Roujin Z – odd, satirical, enjoyable, and strangely enough, more relevant now than when it was first released.
Art: 9 (i like the art, animation, and pale color…typical old anime style)
Sound: 5 (not so engaging, but that’s okay)
When coming to Mecha, often i see similar theme that was either wars between parties involved to get limited resources or protecting their home from evil darkness. This theme was okay for us at appropriate amount but human being cannot accept this amount when it exceed the inflection point where, after that point, the level of enjoyment becomes gradually decreasing. Unfortunately, back from the history of anime to the recent anime years, this theme has exceed our inflection point. It is just telling the same theme and pattern but at different way, merely repeated re-interpretation.
Roujin Z is the only anime that i’ve ever seen so far that disrupt the doomed cycle of similarity within mecha theme. It’s about entirely different things that are unique, creative, original, all of which was meant to criticize the dark side of commercialism and Mediacare benefit for elderly but within Japanese context, while the other party (US research & development) gains in smart way. Typical respond for this political matter was arguably uninteresting for most 20s-age people but Roujin Z manages to cope this problem by involving typical fighting mecha with military, polished with its creativity and imagination to make the fighting to become unusual, and armed with great art and animation of course. This is the aspect that enough for me to give Roujin Z overall 10 ratings because that’s the important thing when involving art.
Another reason for my 10 ratings is that, although the concern of this anime is the lack of story stretching (we want more story development beyond this. we want more!!), it is quite reasonable to be humble for this aspect and forgive it unless there is incremental development from other authors. Moreover the premise of the arguably simple story is strong enough to tell the whole picture, making it unnecessary to be explained more further. That’s why this anime stand on its own in less crowded space.
Some might argue this anime was silly or dumb. And some might argue the story is too short and shallow. My counterargument for this: it is silly but not silly and watching anime shouldn’t be so serious unless the anime itself forces us to be so serious. So that’s why Roujin Z makes more fun to watch than deep political theme of mecha in Jin-Rou or Ghost in the SHell series.
I’m not a rocket scientist and I never claimed to be one, but it doesn’t take one to see the primary reason why this anime film is hailed as a classic. Can anyone guess why? Well, it’s written by the creator of Akira himself Katsuhiro Otomo. Therefore, this film is great and it’s a classic because he can do no wrong. Personally, I never bought into Akira’s masterpiece status, and I don’t buy into this films status as great anime either. I find it to be decent at best.
It appears that Otomo was shooting for something thought provoking and he succeeded. Roujin Z definitely has a very interesting concept. I do know what it’s like to help take care for an older person whom can’t feed or wash themselves. It can definitely feel like a burden a lot of the time, and sometimes one could just wish that the person would go away. It’s a very evil and selfish way of thinking but that’s human nature.
The film uses these feelings to establish an emotional link with the viewer, and at the same time it provides a solution to their problem. The people’s reaction to the first live display of the bed’s capabilities is proof. At first, the direction was pretty well done painting a picture of the selfish nature of people. Some of the folks in the audience were even uttering that they can now take a vacation. They completely ignored that the person still needs care from other human beings. Otomo had something serious and really deep going on here, but decided to turn it into a satire of Japan’s feelings towards the elderly. I wish he could have been more serious with this one.
I really didn’t care for the direction that the film went, and I wasn’t gripped by the plot at all. The film dabbles between comedy and action in the form of a silly cast, as well as uninteresting mecha fights. The only reason why my rating doesn’t plummet any lower is because the mecha battle and wacky madness is actually necessary. They play into the themes and the heavy symbolism taking place with Takazawa. The substance present in the film can seriously have some viewers saying “Wow!”, once everything finally comes together. I really didn’t have a problem with the music, because it fits well with the comedy and action but there’s nothing truly note worthy. This also goes for the voice acting which didn’t stand out to me for neither language.
The bit of comedy present certainly delivers through the animation and artwork. The facial expressions can be funny on certain occasions, and the action scenes have decent animation. The viewer gets to know several characters personalities somewhat but there isn’t much for character development outside of Takazawa.
Overall, I feel Roujin Z is worth a watch to the more serious anime fan. It’s not something I’ll be watching again and I don’t consider it bad, but it could have done without the silliness. If you come into this searching for loads of blood and action, or even a dark angst ridden story shades of Akira. Then you’ll definitely be disappointed.
Highs: Realistic and interesting concept
Lows: Typical characters, weak plot half way through
1: Omoide Poroporo
English: Only Yesterday
MAL Score: 7.45
Taeko Okajima is a 27-year-old, independent woman who spent her entire life in Tokyo. Looking to unwind from the rush of the big city, she decides to visit her family in the country to help out during the harvest.
On the train there, Taeko vividly recalls her memories as a schoolgirl in the initial stages of puberty, as if she is on a trip with her childhood self. A young farmer named Toshio picks her up at the station, and they quickly develop a friendship. During her stay, Taeko forms strong bonds with family and friends, learning the contrasts between urban and rural life, as well as the struggles and joys of farming.
Nostalgic and bittersweet, Omoide Poroporo takes on Taeko’s journey as an adult woman coming to terms with her childhood dreams compared to the person she is today.
First of all, Ghibli. I don’t really believe in brand names as a rule, but if there’s one name that I feel like I can safely and consistently associate with the highest standards and best quality, it’s Studio Ghibli. In this case, the famous Hayao Miyazaki is producer rather than in charge, and Isao Takahata (Grave of the Fireflies) is director. In this combination, they are as good as one can expect, but not quite in the way one expects.
The resulting film isn’t really as child-friendly as other Ghibli films, in that it’s not full of the fun characters and exciting situations that kids will love as they do My Neighbour Totoro or Nausicaa of the Valley of the Winds. A glance at the tags area will show you that "slice of life" is the most popular description of this film, and this is even more accurate than the label usually is; it’s simply 27-year-old office worker Taeko’s mixing of her working holiday on a farm with her reminiscence of her 10-year-old self, and the way this experience makes her question the direction her life is taking. It’s also among the best implementations of such an approach I can think of; this slice of life is gripping, and pulls no punches, in its own domesticated but quietly gut-wrenching way. But it’s a rare child that appreciates the drama of family relationships, and will stay glued to explorations of the niceties of urban versus rural ways of life and adult versus child ways of thinking. What I’m trying to say is, you may well bore your kids if you mistake this for typical Ghibli and stick them in front of it, but you yourself may be too wrapped up in it to notice.
For those who are striving to convince a sceptic that anime isn’t just huge-eyed, twinkling Majikal Girls, spiky-haired swordsmen, giant robots, cutesy animal caricatures and the odd smattering of tentacled obscenity, this is a prime counter-example of "for grown-ups" anime. The acting is superb; Miki Imai as the adult Taeko, Toshiro Yanagiba as her friend Toshio, and Youko Honna as the young Taeko are all natural, believable and thoroughly excellent, and the rest of the cast all just about as talented. The script is possibly the best I’ve ever encountered in anime, one that’s so good it makes scriptwriting look easy. It manages to use naturalistic dialogue to communicate a masterful grasp of the power and impact of memory, of the way tiny things stick in your mind like thorns years down the line, of the way things you learn now can change your personal history utterly at a stroke. This is very much a film that strikes a chord for me; I may be male, English and hate gardening, but as a 26-year-old, I see myself in Taeko, in that I too have memories of childhood that, for some reason, just won’t go away sometimes – I think everyone with a little life experience does.
The visuals, too, are of a usual stellar Ghibli standard, with an interesting twist. As I watched, I was partly slightly bothered and partly wondering at the faces of the characters; there’s something different, something out of the ordinary, just a bit odd about their depiction, and it wasn’t until I watched the DVD’s ‘making of’ extra that it fell into place. What Takahata and crew have done is concentrate on muscles; all the adult characters have realistically sculpted cheekbones and other facial contours that aren’t usually present even in the most exactingly drawn anime. It manages to pick up tiny nuances of facial expression that give characters a much wider and finer emotional range than normal. The effect is one of hyperrealism; in this very rare instance, I found I was able to read faces as if I were watching live action, and I was forgetting this was hand-animated. Other details, such as the incredibly fine use of colour, are more like standard fare for Ghibli but none the less impressive for this. One standout scene is a sunrise over the field in which Taeko is working, which is both gorgeous and technically amazing. The slight but notable use of faded earthy colours and reds for scenes from Taeko’s past and the bright, predominantly green-blue scenes of the present-day are very well executed; it’s never unclear when we are seeing.
Music by Masaru Hoshi is, while not astounding, entirely pleasing, peaceful, and highly appropriate, but here to steal the scene from left field, please welcome the Hungarian folk choir! This odd, odd choice is…just right. It’s haunting stuff, full of undertones implying the hidden, benign but huge power of nature (another often-encountered Studio Ghibli calling card) and even though it’s not really relevant in any logical way, it simply works. The ending song by Harumi Miyako is a lovely bit of music, and for once, it really fits the film it’s attached to.
You could conceivably criticise the film simply for being anime; even in 1991, making a live-action Only Yesterday would not be hard; there’s no fantastic landscapes or technology, no gravity defying costumes or hair, nothing out of the ordinary in the film at all. But once again, part of the reason that this is impressive is because it’s something of a risk that was taken and which paid off; because it would be easy to do as live-action doesn’t necessarily make that a better stylistic choice, but that it works as animation by showcasing novel animation ideas mixed with great talent can do nothing but improve it. Also, the way anime creates its entire world gives an animation some advantages. Firstly, a story like this, all about details, draws attention to those details more effectively if you’re watching with half an eye on the look out for art style, as many anime fans do – film a woman picking a flower and it’s pretty, but animate one that truly compares, and it’s stunning. Also, the way viewers suspend their disbelief constantly for animation allows the impossible to seamlessly integrate into the commonplace. This only happens once, at the end, but in practice it’s so naturally and gracefully done, and so basically right, that instead of going "yeah, that was a nice idea", the impact of the scene and the emotional lift it gives you are much more pronounced.
If the film has any weaknesses, it would be pacing; for a film that’s by it’s nature leisurely and gradual, it is perhaps a touch too leisurely and gradual in places, and while almost all of Taeko’s recollections are relevant, perhaps one or two are a bit spare and peripheral. While I’ll admit I am sort of blown away by it, I also recognise that it’s not perfect, hence a mark knocked off; and yes, you need to be in the right mood to get the most from this film. I’ve been waiting months since I got it for the right moment; this morning was finally it, and it delivered. Other than that, well, the only way you’ll have any criticisms of the film is if, having read this, you decide it’s not your sort of thing, then watch it anyway, expecting explosions, car chases or gritty hard-boiled action. That’s not this film’s brief. What Only Yesterday does is subtlety and maturity and real, proper grown-up drama in anime.
The reason why Only Yesterday might be the most realistic anime movie of all time is that, they did, care about the smallest things, the characters’ movements, their eyes, their mouths, how the whole cast reacts to an action, how they gave everyone enough space to experience their opinions without being repetitive, how they completed the puzzle and at the same time they focused on our protagonist herself, this is important simply because it prevents predictability, generally helps you breathe with the characters, and doesn’t make you feel -disconnected- with their world. Another important reason, if not the most important one, something you might find surprising and was barely done, is that, the audio was recorded before the animation itself which means the movements of the characters would fit their speeches perfectly. The script itself was, without any doubt written by someone who clearly put his soul on this project, to give such attention to the responses and interactions, you might ask what are you talking about but I find it rather simple that scriptwriters these days are lackadaisical.
The movie defines the word “seriousness” in a higher new level, there might be no movie as serious as Only Yesterday, no matter how they try to be, they’ll never achieve its level because the most essential way to make a great movie is to never try to be what you want to be, in other words, Only Yesterday’s story is so simple, a story about a young girl who travels to the countryside and recalls her memory while she’s surrounded with people who love her. The concept is straightforward, but the idea is how to use every detail you have to create something far greater from what you initially started with.
The nostalgic and heart-breaking movie knows how to draw the characters very well with a variety of lines, colors and shades, if you could take a second from your life to stare at one of the characters’ faces, I think that would be great and even though I noticed the movie has received countless criticisms about how in some way or another the characters look very similar except for their hairstyles and colors, look no further, to how ‘us’ look identical, and so I say that the movie has yet achieved another level of realism.
Only Yesterday has never failed to draw a smile on my face the whole two hours thanks to Isao Takahata’s great directing skills. The movie is very mature and was released when the word “mature” had no meaning in such films, most anime were filled with blood and action or family oriented or purely directed to kids, I don’t think you can give this film to a child expecting to see him knocking at your door the day after explaining how the film has changed his life or anything like that or even expect him to even like it, this was different from Isao Takahata’s other works including “Akage no Anne” or “Heidi” for instance cus here, our protagonist is old and in that case, kids didn’t get it or appreciate it as much as we did, it was very risky and the idea could have easily been done as life-action.
This movie has realized that it’s a butterfly and finally found its wings, but looking back now, maybe it was just flexing them pointlessly.
Only Yesterday, for the people who want to realize that the movies they’re watching nowadays are utter shit.
Thank you, Isao Takahata.
The story surrounds Taiko, a twenty seven year old woman who leaves the city and her work for ten days to go on a vacation in the rural areas and relax her mind. What really sets this movie apart from the rest of the others is the fact that on the way to her destination, her little self from when she was younger comes along on the trip, and from there on the woman starts to remember all of the nostalgic bits and pieces from her past, both the good and the bad of her childhood. The movie’s narrative transitions seamlessly from twenty seven year old Taiko to the young and innocent Taiko, often with the use of phone calls to convey that the movie has transitioned from past to present and vice versa.
The dangerous thing about this film is that the two sides, her young self and her old self, are contrasting in tone and color, to the point where one would naturally care for a side and not the other, or find themselves caring for one more than the other. Luckily, this movie tried to make the chances of that happening slim. Taiko’s adult persona is very interesting with her introspective demeanor, and her longing for a better life. She finds herself in a place that many young adults her age find themselves in, and that is to still be holding onto the dreams of the youth while trying to work towards her goals of taking care of a family and living up to society’s expectations. That, in turn, makes the child brimming within her to not go unnoticed and makes her all the more relatable towards people who are in the same age gap as her and facing the same issues she is facing. The most interesting part of her family is her father, who seems like he looks down on himself in shame due to the fact that he didn’t achieve his dreams while young. He cannot let go of the past, which contrasts with Taiko letting go of the past while also valuing how it shaped one up to be, and embracing all those moments in life, both the good and the bad.
Every character in this movie felt like a real person, and it was very interesting to see a slow paced, coming of age, female driven drama Anime. You don’t see those often, especially in an Anime, and that is the thing which made this movie all the more of a unique and enjoyable ride.
The audiovisuals are some of the most unique out there, if not the most unique for a Ghibli movie. The contrast of visuals between the life of young Taiko and her life when she is all grown up is interesting and worked on very well. The most striking aspect about Only Yesterday is it’s use of color and visual design to achieve it’s themes about self-discovery through re-discovery, and to grab the viewer into both old and young Taiko’s perspectives of the world around them. Only Yesterday operates on two time periods, those being the past and the present, and Takahata managed to infuse each separate time period with a distinct personality and a life of it’s own. For example, Taiko’s past is filled to the brim with simplistic usage of colors and light colors, and the most used color is the color white, which seeps into the edges of the screen. The past has this nostalgic feel working for it, which creates a striking contrast with Taiko’s present, a present that contains very complex and colorful colors, and very realistic details in both characters and setting. The reason for that is that Taiko’s past is, intentionally made blurry and less detailed, due to her not being able to recollect her full memory on what had happened during certain events of her life. This is not necessarily to say that one part of her life is better than another part, as both of them are equally as good as each other, while providing thematic depth and more insight into the main character’s life. The settings are also affected by the visual decisions as well, since the skies are more clear and white in the past, providing for a nostalgic feel, while the skies in the present are more lively and in-the-moment due to the bright blue colors used. Moreover, what distinguishes past from present in Taiko’s life is the usage of the color red, where everything she wears and uses is red in the past, and red disappears in the present. That is not to say that the red has disappeared completely from her life, but more so that she doesn’t completely let go of the past all the while still holding value to it, which is while she still uses red things, she barely does as often as she did during her younger days.
Taiko now mostly wears blue, and her present is surrounded by blue and green lively colors. That is not to say that she has rejected that past, because her hair tie, for example, is still of the color red, just that it is behind her back, which is to show that she still acknowledges the past while not letting it interfere with her present life. On the journey of her discovering herself though, she finds plenty of red. The plant that Taiko is picking is a flower that is used as a red dye, her love interest wears red and his final scene, and the transport vehicles that she uses during the final scenes are colored red. I can rave on and on about why this is Studio Ghibli’s visual landmark, but I think you get the gist. The main musical theme used here is not as striking as some other Ghibli ones out there, though still good on it’s own nonetheless and conveys the mood of nostalgia and melancholy quite successfully. The end scene is one of the best scenes in all of Anime, and how it ends, and how the credit roll is displayed, is one of the most brilliant uses of a credit roll in Anime history.
If you are a person who is interested in a coming of age story from a female perspective, then this one is a must watch. This is one of the best visually directed Anime movies ever made, and is easily the best the top one in the Ghibli discography, and that is due to the fact that Isao Takahata took a mundane concept such as the life of a young girl and her maturing into a female adult, and turned it into such an amazing and visceral self-discovery journey.
Did YOUR favorite anime make the cut? Let us know in the comments below!
1. Omoide Poroporo
2. Roujin Z
3. Urusei Yatsura Movie 6: Itsudatte My Darling
4. Mobile Suit Gundam F91
5. Tobe! Kujira no Peek