They’re the best Anime that 2001 has to offer! We counts down the best anime to come out this year, including the likes of Metropolis, InuYasha Movie 1: Toki wo Koeru Omoi, Initial D Third Stage, and more!
MAL Score: 7.53
In the great city of Metropolis, severe community structures and prejudice dominate a world where humans and robots live together. Unrest and violence increase with each new day.
Searching for the scientist Dr. Laughton, suspected to violate human rights by trading organs, the Japanese detective Shunsaku Ban and his nephew Kenichi arrive at Metropolis. In the scientist’s laboratory, Kenichi discovers a girl without any memory of her past life. He decides to help her, so they run away together. His uncle follows him and penetrates the dark secrets of the city to find Duke Red, the man ruling from the shadows. Meanwhile, Kenichi desperately tries to protect the mysterious girl from the people hunting her. However, Duke Red and his adoptive son have their own deep reasons for chasing the girl. These reasons are connected to her true identity and the struggle for the domination of Metropolis…
Metropolis is…a manga written in 1949 by Osamu Tezuka. Its similarities to the original film are pretty limited, mainly because Tezuka hadn’t even seen the film when he wrote the manga. He’d only seen a single picture in a magazine and thought it looked pretty rad.
Metropolis is…an anime movie from 2001 that’s loosely based on Tezuka’s manga, but also tries to bring in some plot elements from the original movie. It had an all-star team on it, such as Rintaro the director, one of my all time favourite anime folks Katsuhiro Otomo doing the scripts, and the production being done at Madhouse.
Metropolis is…not very good.
I feel a bit awkward not liking Metropolis, because there’s a hell of a lot of things to like about it. For one, it’s fucking gorgeous. Incredible detail has gone into each background drawing and there is rarely a shot where characters aren’t moving. Even background characters are doing little things like picking up bottles and throwing coins and puffing cigars. It seems weird to highlight something like this, but when you spend all your time watching the usual cost-cutting techniques of anime produced for television, it really stands out here. The music is fantastic too. It’s very blues orientated, which ties into the seedy underworld feel the lower levels of this heavily class-based world have.
The movie clearly has an actual point to the story too. It’s about class warfare and how the lowest levels of society will rise up eventually. It’s particularly striking how the rebellion starts with the second class citizens throwing their little fight, but the real rebellion is right at the end when the robots all rise up under their ‘charismatic’ leader. Tie this is with government corruption and how the desires of those in power, as heartfelt and real those feelings might be, can lead to the destruction of their city. There’s some pretty obvious allusions to the Tower of Babel too and the danger of trying to become like a god. In other words, this movie is not like the other 2000-era movie with Katsuhiro Otomo on board, Steamboy. With Steamboy, all the pretty visuals in the world couldn’t hide that the story was a total damp squib with dumb idealism and pathetic characters mwahaha go my biased views go. With Metropolis, there’s clearly an artistic vision here and a story with proper depth.
So why am I not feeling all that hyped about Metropolis? This might be a bit harder to explain.
You know that thing I was praising earlier on in this review? How characters would always be moving, including the background characters? How detailed the background art was? The movie also seemed to realise how great it was at this and leant on it too much. You get a lot of scenes of one character walking, another character walking with him, the second character looking back and slowing down, then jogging to catch back up with the character they were walking with. There’s lots of scenes of characters walking through the streets, or robots doing busywork, or fat Tezuka designs smoking cigars. It’s all set-dressing to develop the world, but most of it is redundant. When I say ‘a lot of scenes’, I really mean it. At least half of the first hour of the movie was spent on these shots of ‘world-building’. They get very boring very fast, which also serves to give the movie a painfully slow plodding pace.
The story is told almost entirely through symbolism and representative actions, which I generally like. That’s how I normally feel a story should be told. Thing is, this leaves the characters with rather little to say, but speak they do anyway. This leaves them with nothing of interest to say beyond idle chit chat, which leads me to the obvious conclusion that every single one is a boring person. Occasionally they might say something of interest that ties into the overall themes of the movie, but because the animation has been diligently working that point constantly, it’s again pretty redundant stuff. Combine these non-characters with a story that takes forever to move anywhere and has very little of excitement occurring and you get what makes Metropolis such a drag.
I knew writing this review would be difficult. Reading back over the last 2 paragraphs now, a lot of the things I appear to be complaining about are aspects of other anime I love. The whole thing about characters not being people but merely ideals slotted into the story might as well be a line from a review of Madoka Magica. Letting the visuals tell the story and leaving the characters to just blabber on about whatever could be a line from a review of FLCL. So what is it that this movie is missing? Some kind of X factor? Some oomph to get me invested?
Perhaps the best course of action might be to look at the end of the movie and see what it did right. For all the plodding most of the movie did, the end really ramps up and provides some of the most striking imagery I’ve seen in any anime. Absolutely jaw-dropping, end-of-the-world events centring on what had previously been this figure of purity and idealism warp into a mutant-baby-from-Akira monstrosity, but still had parts of its original face intact to make the shock turn even more grotesque and eerie. That scene had oomph, but it also wouldn’t have worked if the proceeding 90 minutes of rather boring studge hadn’t existed to build up the themes in the first place. It’s one of those cases where some reviewers would claim you require ‘patience’, which is a nice way of saying that the piece suffers from an inability to make its world-building and set up interesting to watch and only becomes interesting once Shit Starts Getting Real.
When Shit Starts Getting Real in Metropolis, it’s an exhilarating experience that brings together the narrative arcs of several plot threads in one satisfying conclusion. It’s a shame that they couldn’t make the entire rest of the movie interesting rather than relying on high production values and hoping that alone will keep you entertained.
The narrative opens in the titular Metropolis with a celebration for the opening of the new Ziggurat. Our protagonists are the private investigator, Shunsaku Ban and his nephew, Kenichi. They’ve traveled to Metropolis to find and arrest a Doctor guilty of harvesting human organs. Little do ther realise that he’s working with the great aristocrat, Duke Red, to create a specialised robot for a specific purpose. They find the doctor’s laboratory burning and Kenichi gets separated from his uncle and stuck in a lower part of the city with the robot, Tima.
The story doesn’t have a bad premise, even though it’s not the one from the original silent film or even close to it. But it quickly becomes riddled with problems. A big one is the romance they have between Tima and Kenichi. It’s incredibly weak with the two characters showing no chemistry nor sharing any substantial moments. They meet and they’re amicable towards each other so it must be love, I guess. The biggest one is probably Duke Red’s ultimate scheme. It reads like a bad silver age comic plot, but without the glorious cheesiness that made silver age comics entertaining. Instead, the film plays it completely seriously. The pacing is all over the place, with some scenes dragging and others getting rushed through.
The characters are severely under-developed. Most of them fill a basic archetypal role and never move beyond that. Which is a real problem when they try to get you to sympathise with them. Something bad happened to that guy with three or four lines? Yeah, if you don’t flesh out your characters, we aren’t going to care. The big exceptions are the characters with even less personality. Tima moves well below under-developed and is just very flat and primarily serves the purpose of being obsessive about Kenichi with little if any personality or motivation beyond him. Yes, the 1927 film was somehow more progressive in terms of gender portrayals than the 2001 one. There are other characters like that, mostly ones who appear in only a few scenes, though. Tima is the only major character with that particular problem.
The artwork is by far the best part of the film. The characters are done in a kind of retro design style reminiscent of other anime based on Tezuka’s work. Which does work very well given the source material. The backgrounds are magnificent. The futuristic tech is really cool looking, although some of it seems like it was deliberately designed around looking cool while being grossly impractical. The fire fighting equipment in particular involves a bunch of small parts that all have to converge and fuse into the main device. It does look cool, but it makes the world seem kind of stupid.
The voice acting is mostly pretty competent. The actors all do their work well enough. The big exception is Imoto Yuka who can’t be asked to emote and gives a very monotone performance. It may be a matter of direction, but I haven’t heard her in anything else, this film was the only acting credit I could find for her, so it’s possible that the direction was fine and she was just bad. The music is really good.
There really isn’t any in this. 1/10.
This movie is not good but I would hesitate to call it ungood. Visually, it’s a real treat. The music is good and the acting is, mostly, okay. That being said, it has a lot of problems. The story is weak. The characters are bland at best. It’s a film that’s flashy but lacking in any real substance. You might want to give it a watch if you’re really into high quality animation and sci-fi, but if you’re going to want a compelling narrative with interesting characters you’ll want to skip it. As such, I can’t recommend it for most people. Although you should definitely watch the silent film that it’s very loosely based on. My final rating is going to be a 4/10. Tomorrow, we’ll leap to something else. Possibly involving time travel.
The character development in Metropolis was appealing. The characters brought the movie alive; they are all one of a kind. Each of them had their own unique looks, styles, and distinctive personalities.
Metropolis is best known for its beautiful CGI; complete eye candy. The character animation didn’t blend in that well with the other CGI structures, but the strange daring mixture pulled me more into the movie.
I’ve seen Metropolis only in English dialogue, which I thought was great. Each of the voice actors portrayed the characters very well. The soundtrack to Metropolis was amazing. I really loved the music through out the movie, especially the ending song.
I would recommend watching Metropolis; it is a true delight.
4: InuYasha Movie 1: Toki wo Koeru Omoi
English: InuYasha the Movie: Affections Touching Across Time
Japanese: 犬夜叉 時代を越える想い
MAL Score: 7.56
Inu-Yasha has mastered the ultimate attack of the Tetsusaiga and continues his battle for the Shikon Jewel shards with Kagome, Shippo, Sango, and Miroku. Unfortunately, a freak occurance with a jewel shard has brought to life an incarnation of a demonic enemy sealed by Inu-Yashas’ father. Inu-Yasha must surpass his father and destroy this demon or every soul in Japan will be consumed.
the first inuyasha movie, affections touching across time, quite the piece of work it is. the story line to it had the same sort of feeling that any of the other inuyasha movies had and the show as well. filled with fighting, jokes, romance, and the characters that only this series can provide. having their original voice actors and music that can be linked to that of the show, it wins in the department of having that “inuyasha” feel to it. it doesn’t quite fit in the time sequence of the show, it sort of serves as a side story. i wouldn’t recommend this if you haven’t seen any of the show or at least read the manga because then it wouldn’t make sense. though it is the first movie out of four, it relies on the viewer having some knowledge of the inuyasha world but for a fan, it’s great to see. the characters are still just how they always were in the show, lovable and memorable in my point of view. the only thing i have to complain about in this movie is the art. the art for inuyasha in the anime was beautiful, it wasn’t flashy or quite as modern but i fell in love with it. the art is different in this movie from the original though at times it looked like it tried to revert. it IS different but it doesn’t get in the way too much though i would have liked to see the original beauty.
all and all as an inuyasha fan, i found it to be an enjoyable movie that i would most definitely watch over again 😀
The plot is absolutely astounding and the villain continues to make me cringe every time I see him lift up a leaf to his lips. He’s a villainous demon I just love to hate.
I can understand what the produces were trying to do, but the movie didn’t make alot of sense. I think it was because it didn’t flow that well. It was like one minute kagome was all possesed and the next minute she passed out, out of nowhere. I was starting to lose interest, so i skipped some of it because it was getting boring.
The art in this movie was pretty horrble. I guess it’s because im used to the art in the inuyasha series, that it looked a little weird to me. For example- In the inuyasha series sesshomaru’s face is not that long. In this movie however,sesshomaru’s face looke really long and narrow. And his ears in this movie were pointier. Im not sure if it was just me but Kagome’s eyes looked bigger and browner than usual. I guess I expected the art to be better since this movie came out after the Inuyasha series started.
As usual, the sound & characters were as good as always. The characters still kept their distinct personalities.
I did enjoy the movie if you took away the agravating art and the boring & unflowing parts. Overall, i liked the movie even though it could of been produced better.
3: Initial D Third Stage
Japanese: 頭文字〈イニシャル〉D THIRD STAGE
MAL Score: 7.88
Takumi Fujiwara is a skilled street racer, but he suffers a crushing loss against the team Emperor’s leader Kyoichi Sudou due to his AE86 experiencing an engine failure. Doubting his abilities, the recent high school graduate is then approached by the Akagi RedSuns’ team leader Ryousuke Takahashi, who proposes the formation of a professional street racing team. Although it would be the ideal way to improve as a street racer, Takumi remains undecided.
Does the young street racer have what it takes to become a professional? Perhaps Ryousuke and the RedSuns can help him reevaluate his own doubts and misconceptions concerning street racing. However, first and foremost, Takumi decides to settle the score with Kyoichi Sudou…
Well, the art, resolution, and the cg continue to progress. The art is cleaner and more detailed, and the cg’s rendering also improves. The races as usual are exciting, but have more of a gimmick or twist behind them this time, which makes them fresh and original in addition of allowing the races to take place in a new environment. And you can never get bored of breath taking drifts. However, some problems I have in this movie are that the races this time tends to end more anti-climatically more than usual.
Fortunately for some, the tech speak is virtually non-existent this time so it’ll be easy to follow and just simply enjoy the races. But I say the tech speak in the previous sagas are always a big help in getting a professional understanding of how the cars and techniques work. But that’s just me.
Well, I can’t really add too much about the voice acting since anything I said in the previous reviews can be applied here too. However, the addition of Kai played by Canna Nobutoshi is a great one. He is very intimidating and hot blooded as Kai like other roles he has played such as Guts from Berserk, Tasuki from Fushigi Yuugi, and Knuckles from Sonic. The music is still the number one trait has always captivated me to Initial D, and is a great representative of the fast and fun nature of this anime. The opening theme Gamble Rumble by MOVE goes very well to the sequence and is always in tradition that MOVE is part of the soundtrack, and I love the insertion of Crazy for Love as well. The ending theme Jirenma adds a new kind of feel to this series as well that you have to watch to understand what I mean.
Like I said, to get into this movie, and understand and enjoy it, you have to see the first 2 seasons to understand a lot of things such as Takumi’s developing acquainting with Ryosuke, why Takumi is avoiding Natsuki and what ended their relationship, and the score he has to settle with the Emperors. To me, this movie is an extension of season 2 and transitions very well into the 4th stage. This movie does an excellent job of standing on its own by further developing Takumi’s character, and balancing his issues and resolving them.
Third Stage involves a few larger plot points and many of the smaller plot points from First and Second Stage that remain unfinished. We’re not treated to anything earth shattering, but it is a necessary part of the overall initial D storyline. Unfortunately even in the manga, you couldn’t get away from some of the plot points that were opened and yet unclosed, so Third Stage serves as that closure. Some may find it a bit more tedious when compared to the other stages, but I find it enjoyable as it delivers a lot of satisfaction from closed plot lines.
Both CGI and drawn art takes a big leap in the movie compared to any previous installment in the series. CGI especially is incredible compared to the previous stages. Drawn art is treated to an overhaul of rich colors and generally looks much better than First and Second Stage. There is a point in the beginning of the movie where I actually remarked to myself just how rich the blue was of the gas station uniforms. Sunsets are well drawn and play an integral part in the settings of this movie and in the metaphorical sense.
Sound quality is good, both acting languages (English, Japanese) are well done and comprehensible. The Eurobeat is great and really helps propel the excitement of the races. OST music outside of the Eurobeat is much better and the car sounds are equivalent to that of Second Stage.
Compared to the previous stages, characters shine in Third Stage. Much of the plot revolves around their growth and change. Mogi is featured, Itsuki continues to mature and Takumi undergoes a comparatively massive shift in development.
It’s hard to say how I feel overall about Initial D Third Stage. It gives you a ton of closed plot points, a few exciting races and tons of character development and interaction. Yet at the same time, it feels melancholic. Nonetheless, it is an important part of the Initial D storyline and a must watch.
The story told is about Takumi’s effort to tie all the loose ends from the past two series. So, we’ve got races, development of his craving for becoming the best driver and an emotional part involving Mogi.
Most of the races are as good as always, but there is one which due to the nature of the rival becomes even more interesting. From this race we will also hear some more of Bunta’s story which is a very good thing.
Although Christmas and snow fit love emotional story like nothing else, while watching that part of the movie I had the strange feeling that it was simply taking too long, especially that similarly to what we’ve seen before when it comes to emotions Takumi is definitely on the slow side.
The animation is better than in the second season. The races seem more realistic, the car models are more detailed and even the character animation stepped up a notch. It’s a shame though that there is still such a wide gap between the quality of how the races and characters are animated.
When it comes to sound it is the same thing we have experienced before. So, once again will listen to good voice acting combined with eurobeat music. It seems that the Initial D style simply does not get old and sounds as good as always.
Most of the time we will be seeing characters, which Takumi has encoutered before. Two chracters are however worth pointing out.
First we have Takumi’s greatest enemy in the movie, who all though plays a short part in the story is one of the most memorable characters from the movie.
Secondly, we have the guy who gets involved with Mogi. Since the Mogi part of the plot is way too long for my taste, the least would be to let the viewers know why the hell is he acting like that.
Concluding, it was a pleasent feeling to see the animation improve, but still as a whole the movie is not as good as the second season of the series, but mark my words when I say… ‘You have to watch it!’.
2: Cowboy Bebop: Tengoku no Tobira
English: Cowboy Bebop: The Movie
Japanese: カウボーイビバップ 天国の扉
MAL Score: 8.38
Another day, another bounty—such is the life of the often unlucky crew of the Bebop. However, this routine is interrupted when Faye, who is chasing a fairly worthless target on Mars, witnesses an oil tanker suddenly explode, causing mass hysteria. As casualties mount due to a strange disease spreading through the smoke from the blast, a whopping three hundred million woolong price is placed on the head of the supposed perpetrator.
With lives at stake and a solution to their money problems in sight, the Bebop crew springs into action. Spike, Jet, Faye, and Edward, followed closely by Ein, split up to pursue different leads across Alba City. Through their individual investigations, they discover a cover-up scheme involving a pharmaceutical company, revealing a plot that reaches much further than the ragtag team of bounty hunters could have realized.
This time, a terrorist possesses a weapon capable of killing countless people, and there’s a bounty of 300 million woolongs on him; the largest bounty ever given. Of course, this means that our heroes will chase him. And so starts the process of gathering information, meeting and getting to know people related to the bounty in some way, and eventually, squaring off against him in a final fight. Oh, and throw in a save-the-world thing this time, and there you have the movie. Nothing really new, a formula that’s been used several times. There’s also details here and there left unexplained, and things may just happen for no reason at the rare occasion. Its 120 minutes might be a little too long to some, but it never came off as boring at any point to me; they certainly did a good job of fleshing out those 120 minutes.
Though, that may be credited more to the characters than the plot itself, as the movie threw some really interesting characters at us. The orignal cast is, well, pretty much the same as they always are, the same characters which you (probably) got to love while watching the original series. As for the movie characters, we have for example Vincent, the main bad guy. He’s quite the interesting fellow, though the more I think about it, the more I can’t help but feel that I’ve experienced his type somewhat before – he’s got a mysterious past; a forgotten love included, he’s going to kill loads of people for no good reason, and he blathers out sentences about religion and whatnot. Nevertheless, he comes off as an interesting character, mostly because of him being similar to Spike – both in physical prowess and their considering themselves ‘dead’ men due to past events. Then we have Electra, Vincent’s past love once forgotten. She remembers him though, and well, she wants him to remember her as well. We can see where that’s heading…
The animation quality is superb; its detail and overall quality is unmistakably a work done by people who knows what they are doing. Be it backgrounds or landscapes, they’re all top-notch. Lighting effects are good, and more than I’d exect from something out of 2001, and the overall quality of special effects are great; much, much better than the original series. The character designs are the same old, with some improvements, and they work very well with this anime and movie. The character motions and their fluidity are great, and the few action scenes in the movie are done so well that I could probably learn some nice figthing moves merely from studying them. The coloring is the only thing that’s a bit behind, but considering its age it’s not a problem. And moreso, the dulled coloring actually melds perfectly with the style of the movie, and helps on the movie’s atmosphere.
The soundtrack is what you should expect from the original series; awesome. Yoko Kanno does her work as she did in the series; with an amazing soundtrack that fits perfectly with the atmosphere of the movie and its individual scenes, and the opening and ending themes are wonderful to listen to. The only downside is that there is a lot of silent scenes, where no background music is present at all.
Cowboy Bebop: Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door is a movie that delivers the goods, but stops at that. It’s not marvelous, but it’s great, and a must-see movie for any Cowboy Bebop fan.
It’s just a few days before Halloween on Ganymede, a major national holiday, and a terrorist has blown up a tanker filled with a biochemical weapon. The government posts a 300 million Wulong bounty for the terrorist, and the Bebop crew just decides to go after it. But the more they investigate, the deeper the rabbit hole seems to go…
Yes, to answer any questions ahead of time, this is not a sequel; it takes place between episodes twenty-two and twenty-three. It’s not quite what I was expecting, admittedly, but it’s still a pretty good plot. It could’ve been fit in the series as a two or three part episode, and apparently Wantanabe had wanted to originally, but he couldn’t have gotten away with it on TV.
The visuals for this are absolutely beautiful; the animation got an update in the three years since the show had aired, and things are definitely smoother than they were in the show. There’s an even more unprecedented amount of detail in this, and it’s absolutely beautiful.
Yoko Kanno and the Seatbelts came back to do work on the music again, and it’s just as awesome and catchy as it was in the series. I found myself humming a few of the songs after it was done.
All the seiyuu and the voice actors were able to return for the movie, which just adds t o the awesomeness of the movie in general. And the dub for this was actually fairly accurate, which surprises me, as this was released Stateside a little over a year after 9/11, and a few days before the 9/11 attacks over in Japan.
All in all, a pretty good movie, with a good plot and unprecedented detail and smoother animation, if not what I was expecting.
Another point in the film’s favour is that it’s pretty much equally accessible for existing fans and those unfamiliar with the characters. While there’s plenty of details that might be lost or not fully comprehensible for new viewers, by and large the film stands up well as a stand alone drama, introducing its characters and their situation. However, this in a way exposes another major weakness of films of series. Series are, by nature, episodic. They devote an episode to introducing a character or exploring their personalities. Once this is done, they generally have plot episodes, in which the main thrust of the series is pursued, and then they have one-shot episodes that have our characters in some kind of interesting situation, but which is basically unrelated to the plot – if there is one. Films, by contrast, do all of this at once. The proceedure is totally different, and a director or scriptwriter used to a series format adapts less well to a film format. Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door exemplifies this – while the film as it is works, it’s more obvious and cumbersome than a film directed by a director used to a feature-length format.
The storyline, also, suffers in this way. It’s not that it’s a bad story, in fact it might make a great two- or three-part episode, but as a film, the material comes across as stretched, holey and lacking in substance. It’s also remarkable in that it’s not half as quirky or original as Cowboy Bebop’s famously eclectic mixtures of ideas: biological terrorism unleashed by a madman with a mysterious and sinister military past, fascinated by death and bent on destroying the world, with cod philosophical pretentions to fil gaps between action and a garnish of some fashionable christian mythology. It’s all very generic really, and frankly the only things that make this Cowboy Bebop and not something much more generic are the familiar characters, who are luckily strong enough to make the thing hang together. The new characters are not much to speak of, either – Vincent the aforementioned madman, a hacker accomplice, a Moroccan information seller and, of course, Electra, a tough, wildcard femme fatale with a mysterious connection to our antagonist. Electra comes off as the best realised of these, and, perhaps not coincidentally, closest to a series character (though she’s a dead ringer for a more mature version of BGC2040’s Priss as well). Vincent seems very like main series antagonist Vicious stripped of his hatred of Spike, which is to say, not that special and a bit rabid and foaming for credibility.
The film drags. It’s just too long. What this is primarily due to is unclear; maybe an over-developed story with far too much exposition (every character seems to need every other to explain nanomachines to them, it seems. We, however, do not), or perhaps the increasingly egregious and segmented action scenes (why are there spitfires on Mars? Who knows, let’s cut back to Spike being pursued by military jets for no apparent reason!), or it could be the ponderous attempts to fashion some sort of existential aspect to the story ("I’m not insane, the rest of the world is." – oh really? You don’t look thirteen years old, Vincent, but you sound it). Philosophical-minded action films are not especially uncommon; good and effective ones are extremely rare. Suffice it to say that I was surprised and rather disappointed when the apparent climax occured and passed with a good half an hour left on the clock.
As I say, the film hangs almost completely on the main characters. It would have been unthinkable to not bring the original cast in for this gig too (can’t speak for the dub cast, don’t know), and they all acquit themselves just as well as they do in the series. Music, too, such a central part of the series, is again provided by Yoko Kanno and the Seatbelts; while the styles used in and prominence given to the music may not be to everyone’s tastes, the versatility and range Kanno’s score covers while still retaining a high basic quality standard is nothing short of incredible. Visually, the quality seems to have been kicked up a notch; the animation of the series was never bad, but the film is sumptuous and extremely well detailed.
However, one of my main bones of contention remains. The art design is realistic, unapologetically multicultural and sort of grimy, very credible in its way, but under even cursory analysis, it’s illogical in the extreme. Why is Mars covered in early twentieth-century New York-style tenement blocks and labyrinthine Moroccan markets? Has anyone remembered that it has one third of earth’s gravity? Is there, in fact, any reason for this to be set on Mars at all, other than to tie in all these diverse elements? It’s sci-fi doing what sci-fi does most often and least well – making half-baked stuff up to accomodate its ideas, with no thought for maintainance of disbelief suspension.
I was never as bowled over by Cowboy Bebop as many people seem to have been. Overall I liked it, certainly, in fact I thought some of it was absolutely excellent, but other parts I thought were pretty terrible, and it was quickly clear that the series was never going to be "a classic" in my eyes the way it is for lots of others. This was primarily because of its disjointedness and apparent lack of story direction, and the same is true of this film. Now, after watching it, I’m left with the same "…well, so what?" feeling a significant amount of the series gave me, but because of the length and the negative impact it has, I have comparatively more holes to pick at as well. Perhaps if you’re a real fan, this film has more to offer, but overall, for me, while I’d not actually call it bad, this doesn’t reach the already kind of saggy standard the series set.
1: Sen to Chihiro no Kamikakushi
English: Spirited Away
MAL Score: 8.80
Stubborn, spoiled, and na?ve, 10-year-old Chihiro Ogino is less than pleased when she and her parents discover an abandoned amusement park on the way to their new house. Cautiously venturing inside, she realizes that there is more to this place than meets the eye, as strange things begin to happen once dusk falls. Ghostly apparitions and food that turns her parents into pigs are just the start—Chihiro has unwittingly crossed over into the spirit world. Now trapped, she must summon the courage to live and work amongst spirits, with the help of the enigmatic Haku and the cast of unique characters she meets along the way.
Vivid and intriguing, Sen to Chihiro no Kamikakushi tells the story of Chihiro’s journey through an unfamiliar world as she strives to save her parents and return home.
Still, I watched it again and, for some reason, I got it the second time around. Spirited Away isn’t meant to be anything grand, with all the bells and whistles. It has a quiet, subdued way of telling a simple story about a simple girl in a very strange world. Instead of expecting something huge, just sit back, watch, and appreciate the world and story Miyazaki has finely crafted for us all to enjoy.
To get to the technical aspects…
The art is, of course, amazing. The colours are rich and the animation is fluid. When Chihiro and her family first walk into the spirit world, you can practically feel the breeze as you watch it whisk through the grass. The lights of the spirit world at night are breathtaking. And watching the train ride closer to the end of the movie, coupled with the amazing music score (the track is called "The Sixth Station"), remains one of my most favourite animation sequences out of anything I’ve seen. Which brings me to another point: the music.
I will get this out of the way first – Joe Hisaishi is one of my favourite composers. His music style is very simple, but he makes every note count. Most of his music is quite subdued in nature and takes a careful ear to notice when your eyes are being captivated by what’s going on in the screen, but do take notice if you have the chance. Or search on YouTube for videos of his live performances. His music is a joy to listen to. Like with Spirited Away, Hisaishi’s music lacks all the "bells and whistles" per se, but it’s beauty lies in its simplicity. Hisaishi has not failed here in Spirited Away.
I dearly loved the characters. One of the best parts of this movie, for me, was that it lacked any clear good or evil characters. Everyone has a bit of both, though perhaps some allow the evil sides of them to come out a bit more obviously than others. In this way, it’s very realistic. Granted, the characters were all quite predictable and Chihiro grated on my nerves at times, but overall, I enjoyed each and every one of the characters Miyazaki has create here.
Overall, Spirited Away is one of my favourite movies and will always be a treasured item in my small DVD collection. It requires some patience to get through since it’s not packed with action or drama, but it’s a nice fairy tale to watch and enjoy.
I enjoyed this very much. You will experience all kind of different feelings watching this; fear, love, warmth..etc
I first watched this film 5 years ago during my senior year in high school when a friend of mine was raving about it. Back then I found the film to be boring and feature a paper thin plot. Now 5 years later and a few hundred anime titles later I was compelled to review this. However, since it was 5 years since I viewed the film, I decided to re-watch Spirited Away in preparation for this review as my memory is a bit foggy. After watching it again, I discovered 2 things about Spirited Away. I now know why I forgotten many of the events, thus needed to re-watch it and my perspective about the film really hasn’t changed.
Spirited Away begins with Chihiro’s family moving to their new home. Like any normal 10 years old girl she is quite sadden and angry about leaving her old life (hell anyone would feel this way). Chihiro’s father makes a wrong turn somewhere and decides to take a short cut through the forest. Ok, perfectly normal but what gets me is when they see an abandon building they decided to go in and explore. Next, they go, “oh look food that’s sitting out with no-one around” let eat. The events leading up to Chihiro getting trapped in the fantasy world are way too plot devicy for my taste. However, this isn’t my main complaint about the film, it’s just that the rest is so shallow I can’t really analyze it with much depth. The rest of the story can be summarized by Chihiro get a jobs, does a job, returns something, get freed and goes home. In fact, I’m quite dumfounded as to how they created a 2 hour movie with this plot line.
Although, perhaps I’m being too critical with the story and story structure that Spirited Away takes. What I think Spirited Away tries to do is create a magical world in which the viewer can escape to. It tries to take us on an adventure to somewhere very different. That is does, studio Ghibli creates a worlds that is both imaginative and beautiful. I could go on and on about the world but words wouldn’t do it justice. However, something is very wrong when the only major praise I can give is about the fantasy world that is created. They spend way too much time creating and focusing on this world. When I analyze a few scenes I realize how drawn out Spirited Away makes each scene. They could have easily cut 30-40 minutes and have a more focused story. This is how they were able to stretch such a thin plot out for 2 hours.
When reviewing anime I put the most weight on the plot and characters. I’ve already talked about how thin and weak the plot is in the above paragraphs. Sadly the characters don’t fare too much better. Chihiro does grow over the course of the movie and in the end she is a bit stronger and can now face new challenges (i.e. new school, neighborhood, etc). After going through what she went through, I don’t think a new school will faze her. However, there really isn’t much to Chihiro’s character, she’s simply a random girl that happens to go on an inadvertent adventure and becomes a little bit stronger in the end. She feels a bit like an empty shell for the audience to live through. In general, the characterization for the movie feels a bit weak, I mean do we really know these characters? If that’s all there is to these characters, then I have no choice but to conclude that most of them are extremely flat.
Ok now on to the easy part of this review, the technical aspects. It should be no surprise that the animation and art is top notch. This is studio Ghibli and Spirited Away is also a movie so there should be no excuses when it comes to animation. The environments are beautiful and quite vibrant. Characters designs are extremely consistent but I don’t like the designs that Studio Ghibli uses. Not really a negative, just a personal preference. Music, really works to create and accent the magical world of Spirited Away. However, the music is nothing too note worthy, above average I guess. In contrast, the voice work, this is a meh for me in both the English and Japanese, nothing really outstanding or bad. However, there really wasn’t anything in the movie that would require the VAs to show their talent.
As with any Miyazaki films there are themes of environmentalism along with others in particular, greed. Thankfully, these themes and ideas never become the focus or become too blatant. Also, I have to add another audience that Spirited Away may have been targeted to. That would be nostalgic Japanese adults that long for a more traditional setting away from the modern world. In that respects it does a great job however, I’m neither a child nor a Japanese adult disillusioned with the modern world. So it should be no surprise that I’m not very fond of this film, as none of the positives really appeal to me. Those would be the imaginative/magical or nostalgic world of Spirited Away.
Spirited Away is an imaginative and magical world that child will most likely enjoy. In addition, its nostalgic feel will appeal to some Japanese adults. However, it also features a paper thin plot as well as weak characterization. Spirited Away is a nice watch if you want to get away for 2 hours and turn off your brain but it is ultimately shallow and forgettable. Even now after watching it a few hours ago I’m having a hard time remembering the details.
Did YOUR favorite anime make the cut? Let us know in the comments below!
1. Sen to Chihiro no Kamikakushi
2. Cowboy Bebop: Tengoku no Tobira
3. Initial D Third Stage
4. InuYasha Movie 1: Toki wo Koeru Omoi