They’re the best Anime that 2013 has to offer! We counts down the best anime to come out this year, including the likes of Kara no Kyoukai Movie: Mirai Fukuin, Kaze Tachinu, Berserk: Ougon Jidai-hen III – Kourin, and more!
5: Kara no Kyoukai Movie: Mirai Fukuin
English: the Garden of sinners -recalled out summer-
Japanese: 劇場版 空の境界 未来福音
MAL Score: 8.02
Shiki Ryougi, Mikiya Kokutou, and Touko Aozaki begin investigating a bomber after they witness a nearby explosion. That same night, Shiki catches a glimpse of the bomber, and as a result, he becomes fixated on her. To get rid of her, the madman plays a game of cat and mouse in attempts to lure her to an empty parking garage. And bombs are not the only thing he has in his arsenal: he also possesses the ability to see the future, and he intends to bring an end to Shiki.
Elsewhere a few days prior, a student at Reien Girls’ Academy, Shizune Seo, plans to head home for the summer. However, while exiting a bus, she has a vision of the future involving a nearby stranger’s death. While trying to warn the stranger, she meets Mikiya—who succeeds in utilizing Shizune’s information effectively.
Subsequently, an employee is sent on a job with his employer’s 10-year-old daughter in tow. However, the subject of his investigation turns out to be a ghost from both of their pasts.
Mirai Fukuin tells the stories set during the main timeline of the Kara no Kyoukai films, as well as one set in the future.
Taking place in the summer of August, the film serves as a side story based off the novel series. Divided into two parts known as Mobius Ring and Mobius Link, the movie explores an insight relating to the power of precognition. That’s what it is on the surface anyways. In essence, the movie composes of two worlds as the main character Seo describes – the present and the future. In retrospect, we see from her viewpoint the power that encompasses herself as a special individual. She is able to see into the future before an event and can respond accordingly. But as a young and shy girl, Seo lacks confidence in her powers to be able to deliver its message at first. It’s easy to tell since such a power can be viewed as both a gift and a curse. That doesn’t come easy for her until fate comes together with a young man named Mikiya Kokutou whom she meets. Their meeting marks a breaking point for Seo. It’s from this encounter that she realizes there’s more than just what meets the eye. Mirai Fukin deals with Seo’s understanding of her powers and its responsibilities.
On the other hand, we have a young man named Mitsuru Kamemura also possessing the ability of precognition to foresee into the future. Unlike Seo, he uses his power for twisted purposes. Adapting the role of a serial bomber, Mitsuru describes his bombs as “toys” and treats the world like a twisted game. In essence, he holds the controller to trigger the bomb and thanks to his foresee ability is able to cheat life and death. Representing the dark side of the movie, Mitsuru is a man that lacks compassion in Mobius Ring. From minute one that he enters the show, there’s a thrilling atmosphere surrounding his appearance. It stands out for the fact that he simply enjoys every kill and treats it as a game. At one point of the story, Mitsuru admits that he hasn’t had this much fun in a while until he meets Shiki. Returning from the previous Kara no Kyoukai movies, Shiki plays the role of a player in Mitsuru’s twisted game. But to defy against such a power takes guts and complexity. For Shiki, she is a cunning woman and stays ahead of the game. While not always able to solve problems in a civil way, Shiki comes off as a woman that can perceive death based on her own powers – the sacred Mystic Eyes of Death Perception. In retrospect, she shows her fearlessness and goes against destiny.
The remainder of the film revisits Mitsuru’s life. Only this time, he plays a different role with a young girl named Mana. Rather than killing others for the sake of the thrill, Mitsuru adapts more of a guardian role for this young girl. Fast forwarding to 10 years into the future, Mitsuru acts with care for Mana but also questions about his own future. It’s symmetric to the film’s power involving premonition. At the same time, there’s a concept involving salvation dealing with choices and regret. With such a power, one would think its way to change the world. But for people like Seo and Mitsuru, they use it for their purposes. And while contrasting in one another with their usage, they deal with the responsibility.
Throughout the film, a supporting character by the name of Ms. Diviner talks about destiny and what fate has in store for people such as Shiki. And it’s true too, because fate allowed Seo and Mikiya to meet one another. Through their bonding comes trust and more confidence. Mirai Fukin focuses on a more psychological aspect of its storytelling rather than shounen action. That is one part the movie lacks in terms of aspect. Action is minimal in the movie only involving the serial bomber Mitsuru as he uses his powers. But what we should be more focused on is Mitsuru’s motivations. It delivers a stellar execution as he tests the limits of his powers but not fueled by any significant goal such as revenge or bounty. He is more like a textbook with no answer key that is hard to read on the surface.
Regrettably the movie lacks spectacular action but it makes it up for its extravagant visuals. As expected from the studio ufotable, known for its other involvement of the previous films, it delivers its magnificent animation style to life. It triumphs not just in its visual production values but its ability to match with the atmosphere. The Kara no Kyoukai franchise has an eerie atmosphere and this latest installation adapts it like a charm even for morbid actions such as serial bombing. It also captures the moment of the setting with its dog days in the summer when it focuses on the background such as the plants and chilling nights. Some of the scenes involving the characters walking in a dark alley brings back some nostalgia from the previous movie to convey its eerie atmosphere. Character designs are also consistent that conveys Shiki’s cunning personality, Seo’s innocence, Mana’s ebullience, Mikiya’s wisdom, and Mitsuru’s ideologies. It holds it altogether with their visage.
While ufotable is known for its prowess with animation production values, the soundtrack of this movie is also not a pushover. From the introduction to the very ending minute, this movie seizes its every moment to bring the OST to life. It ranges from the eerie atmosphere, the intimidating tone with the cat-and-mouse game between Shiki and Mitsuru, and mature conversation in the café. I would also give praise especially to Mitsuru’s performance for his voice mannerisms that captures his calculating movements. Similarly, Shiki’s voice also conveys her sly personality as she is able to fight against fate on her own terms. The theme song by Kalafina as well as Yuki Kajiura’s performance also shows their talent in an elegant manner.
1 hour and 30 minutes. That’s all it needs for this film to deliver its message. But for such a power to be able to foresee into the future through precognition, there are infinite answers to its true purpose. What we know is that everyone’s ideologies fits somewhere like pieces to a puzzle. This movie presents its themes and ideas in tolerant manners that matches with its mysterious atmosphere. And as expected, ufotable adapts this atmosphere with consistency in both artwork and soundtrack. For a movie that serves a side story, I highly recommend this presentation as an appreciation to its previous installations. It’s a gem that shines with grace.
The Mirai Fukuin movie adapts two of the five short light novel stories released back in 2008: Möbius ring and Möbius link. The first half of the movie, Möbius ring, portrays two people possessing similar abilities of precognition. However, one tries to live her life as a normal schoolgirl and the other utilizes his foresight ability and becomes a professional bomber. The second half, Möbius link, fast forwards to over a decade where Mikiya’s and Shiki’s daughter Mana plays the role of the main character where she and her partner investigate anomalies in the city. What I enjoy about these premises is the fact that though they may seem unrelated, the stories intertwine with one another. Similar themes of precognition and questioning what the future holds are present in both chronicles. Though there is much less action in Mirai Fukuin compared to the previous movies, what made up for it was how beautifully executed the stories were.
Along with magnificently adapted stories, Mirai Fukuin possessed beautiful animations. As always, ufotable is able to make every scene come to life, whether it is rain droplets falling from the sky, Shiki’s Mystic Eyes of Death Perception, or even bomb explosions. Ufotable’s unique animation style is what makes Kara no Kyoukai stand out. And coupled with the beautiful animations is the beautiful music. With Yuki Kajiura as the composer and Kalafina performing the ending theme like the previous movies, one can expect that each song completely fits the atmosphere. The trinity of story, animation, and music is overall spectacular, each category supporting the other two to make it look even more stunning.
However, one cannot create a great story unless the characters themselves are equally as good. Mirai Fukuin introduces two new prominent characters, Mitsuru Kamemura and Mana Ryougi. Seo Shizune was previously seen in the sixth movie, Oblivion Recorder, but has been expanded greatly in the latest installment. Seo and Mitsuru both possess the power of precognition, but differ greatly on how they use it. As previously stated, one tries to become a regular schoolgirl, which is Seo, and another becoming a professional bomber, which is Mitsuru. Mana of course is the daughter of the two most prominent characters of the series. The three character’s personalities were fleshed out quite nicely in just one movie. Of course, characters such as Mikiya, Shiki, and Touko play a role in Mirai Fukuin.
Overall, I found this to be a very enjoyable movie. I did, however, find it slightly disappointing that there was next to no action in Mirai Fukuin, but when it did, it was spectacular. Though three years was a long wait to watch the next installment, it was worth it. Type-Moon, Nasu Kinoko, and ufotable did an incredible job with this series and I hope they will provide more high quality features in the future. The movie ending quite nicely, and I am glad that the Kara no Kyoukai franchise ended in such a manner.
4: Kaze Tachinu
English: The Wind Rises
MAL Score: 8.10
Although Jirou Horikoshi’s nearsightedness prevents him from ever becoming a pilot, he leaves his hometown to study aeronautical engineering at Tokyo Imperial University for one simple purpose: to design and build planes just like his hero, Italian aircraft pioneer Giovanni Battista Caproni. His arrival in the capital coincides with the Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923, during which he saves a maid serving the family of a young girl named Naoko Satomi; this disastrous event marks the beginning of over two decades of social unrest and malaise leading up to Japan’s eventual surrender in World War II.
For Jirou, the years leading up to the production of his infamous Mitsubishi A6M Zero fighter aircraft will test every fiber of his being. His many travels and life experiences only urge him onward?—even as he realizes both the role of his creations in the war and the harsh realities of his personal life. As time marches on, he must confront an impossible question: at what cost does he chase his beautiful dream?
The film is based on a true story, that of Jirou Horikoshi. He was a japanese aeronautical engineer in charge of the design of the Mitsubishi Zero, the fighter plane used in World War II – specifically during the attack on Pearl Harbor.
The movie begins by following Jirou at a young age and his dream to become a pilot. This is not the case because Jirou is nearsighted; nevertheless, we see Jirou’s great interest in the Italian aeronautical pioneer, Count Caproni, as he becomes inspired to become an aeronautical engineer.
The story doesn’t just focus on Jirou and aviation, but it develops into a love story between Jirou and Naoko. Hayao Miyazaki was able to produce a beautiful love story that did not interfere with the work focus surrounding Jirou. Both Jirou’s love for airplanes and Naoko were able to coexist and have the same equal amount of passion throughout the film.
Like any other Miyazaki and Ghibli film, the art is memorable and breathtaking. The watercolor style backgrounds are drawn with so much care and detail that the animation alone is able to bring the movie to life.
For those of you who have seen Miyazaki’s films, you will definitely have déjà vu moments as you see the similarities between the artwork and music. You will see the animation and music that made: Porco Rosso, Howl’s Moving Castle, Spirited Away, and his other movies so distinctive from one another all coming together and producing that unique tone for The Wind Rises. We can clearly see all of Miyazaki’s accomplishments in the industry pouring out into this film and piecing itself together like a perfect jigsaw puzzle.
I believe that the characters are what drive this film to its fullest potential. I have only watched the english dubbed, but the casting was great. Each voice fit the different role remarkably. Emily Blunt and Joseph Gordon-Levitt deserve nothing but praise as they did an outstanding job voicing Naoko and Jirou. All of the relationships developed in this movie are a beautiful portrayal of every day life friendships and interactions. There are no “bad” guys. The suspense built is not from an external race trying to cause havoc, but rather a more personal suspense built within Jirou. Overall, the characters are very charismatic and enjoyable.
The pacing of the movie was very steady. It never felt as if it were too rushed or was dragging. Much of the film is spent in and out of Jirou’s dreams. Some people believed that it was hard to decipher when he is actually dreaming versus when he is not. The introduction of Caproni makes it very obvious, or should, to whether or not he is dreaming.
There have been many complaints about how this movie doesn’t live up to Miyazaki and his other films, but I think otherwise. Each of his movies are uniquely set in their own world of a dream-like fantasy. The Wind Rises joins them as a masterpiece, but in its own category.
By the end of the movie, all of your questions will be answered. Your overall understanding of the events that have just taken place will hit you straight in the heart – let those tears of joy and sadness run down your cheeks! The finale of Miyazaki’s movies has ended. Go with the wind as you take away the two hours of complete sublimity. My words alone cannot even describe the amount of emotion and beauty seen in this film, you will have to see it for yourself!
Of course, it would have been even better if he did it before Wind Rises came into existence, because my god was this one fucking dull movie.
The genre that Miyazaki tackles with his latest flying extravaganza is the biographical one. Whilst it’s true that stuff like Porco Rosso and Kiki were films centered around one protagonist’s life, Wind Rises goes a step further by detailing the life of our main hero, Jiro, as he grows from a boy to university to adult to irresponsible fuckwad. We see that he’s acrophobic but still wants to build planes as inspired by his dream friend and famous plane designer Caproni. As such he grows into a man who builds planes that are eventually used for war – who didn’t see that coming? – and eventually gets to marry a girl he knew when she was only twelve or so whilst he was in college. More things happen later, but it’s not really my place to spoil that stuff, so I’ll just go into “complaining mode” now.
Okay animation guys, I’m going to establish a new rule. You know those slice-of-life stories where we follow a dude as he learns about new things and the charm apparently relies on how much you like the focus character whilst throwing in a few comedic scenes that make up the crux of anime like Silver Spoon or Uchouten without any real conflict that can’t be solved through a counselor on Skype? You’re NOT allowed to do that anymore! You can still have them as downtime or whatever, but you have to have something else, even if you have to hire the Kanon car or introduce a sick mum who’s not really that sick, Totoro-style. Why? Because it’s boring! It doesn’t allow the audience to learn about the subject matter you’re probably trying to teach. And it’s #1 on my most hated anime cliche list for a reason.
Even if I was into Jiro as a character, I still wouldn’t find following him for two hours all that interesting because there is no real personal conflict that happens to him throughout the majority of his life. He likes planes. Some plane-related/war-related incidents happen that have fuck-all tension and don’t really affect him all that much. He meets the girl he’s going to marry and we get a few playful scenes before they decide they want to be together. He goes through a bunch of timeskips that have no subtitles to indicate when they’re happening and come off as jarring when they occur without incident because after he stops being a kid, he looks the same in his thirties as he does in his twenties.
And to make it worse, the finale of the film is that the story just ends. No real big scene. No big climax. It’s just a revelation where the message overrides the story and then it just ends without a second thought. That’s got to be the most sudden “okay we’re done” ending I’ve seen since that godawful Steins;Gate movie.
I won’t say the film isn’t without merits. The stretch of time where Jiro gets married and has to care for his wife is decent, if only because it actually introduced a personal conflict to his life. The way it all ends up is sad, even though the finale became a little manipulative in that Up sort of fashion. Unfortunately, that only takes up about twenty minutes of the film at most and it only happens in the last act.
I suppose Wind Rises is worth watching if you’re a plane geek who’s into all the “many” historically accurate details that are peppered through the film’s early 90s setting, or if you’re a die-hard Miyazaki fan (despite the fact that I didn’t like this film, I’ll probably still buy it just to complete the collection), or if you’re into “feels”, whatever the fuck that means. But dude, that’s a lot of hype and talent to use up on what comes across like a nature documentary with a plane dude as the main subject. Personally, I want to free up time to watch Castle in the Sky again. Whilst eating Papa John’s pizza.
So, The Wind Rises is a movie that focuses on a man named Jirou Horikoshi, the designer of the A6M Zero fighter plane of World War II, notoriously known for its use in the kamikaze, or suicide, missions back in the war.
That said, this is far from a biographical movie. It’s a fictional work loosely based around the historical figure known as Jirou Horikoshi. Wikipedia classifies this movie as an “animated historical fantasy film” and I think that classification fits the bill perfectly.
The story focuses on the life of Jirou Horikoshi and the romantic relationship between him and a woman named Setsuko, who suffers from tuberculosis. Overall, I felt the pacing of the movie was pretty well done, starting from childhood and slowly progressing through different stages of his life in a very fluid manner, although there were moments that felt rushed from time to time (the romantic relationship between Setsuko and Jirou for example).
The animation was of course amazingly detailed and well done (I loved how they paid attention to giving the animation depth; little mannerisms like a guy habitually shaking his legs under the desk while he’s working or the main character’s suit crumpling up when he sat down on a stool). One other thing I loved were the “dream sequences”, basically portraying Jirou’s dreams in a very surrealistic manner, as they were very vibrant and made for perfect transitions between different parts of the movie. These things, combined with an amazing soundtrack that fit perfectly with the mood (as expected of Hisaisi Joe), made some scenes truly amazing. Well, I had expected nothing less from Ghibli and Miyazaki Hayao, but even with that in mind, it blows you away.
The characters are overall unique and likeable. We also have some glimpses of other historical figures such as aeronautical engineers Giovanni Batista Caproni (who serves as a role model of sorts in Jirou[‘s dreams] in the movie), and Hugo Junkers. And of course there’s Setsuko, the lover of our man, Jirou. The romance in this movie of course tugs right at your heartstrings. It’s not burningly flamboyant nor overly exciting; rather it is one of those faint, calm romances that makes you feel calm and happy inside. It makes you shed a few tears (and be on the brink of shedding more on other occasions) for the romance for it was absolutely beautiful and heart-wrenching.
(Fun fact: Giovanni Batista Caproni’s aircraft manufacturing company, Caproni, manufactured a plane called the Caproni Ca.309 Ghibli, which served as the inspiration to Ghibli’s name)
On a side note, the voice acting by Anno Hideaki (famous for being the chief director of Evangelion TV and movie series) I thought was quite amusing; it fit the out-of-it character of the main character pretty well, although at the more emotional moments of the movie, it lacked depth.
Overall, it was a very enjoyable 2 hours. It made me laugh, it made me cry at the right moments, it made me stare at the screen with a slack jawed expression because some scenes were just too beautiful.
Finally, I found the criticism and controversy it’s generating (especially in Korea) was a bit overblown. If anything, I found it to be quite critical of war and Japan attacking other nations (at several points in the movie, the characters say that Japan is going down a path of ruin [along with Germany] ).
I think it’s best to enjoy this as a piece, a work of art, rather than read too deep into it. I advise you to watch it just as a story of the life and love of a man who simply loved aircrafts.
3: Berserk: Ougon Jidai-hen III – Kourin
English: Berserk: The Golden Age Arc III – The Advent
Japanese: ベルセルク 黄金時代篇Ⅲ 降臨
MAL Score: 8.20
The Band of the Hawk has dwindled in the year since Guts left them on his journey to forge his own destiny. Unaware of their fate, Guts returns to the Hawks—now being led by his former ally Casca—after a rumor about them passes his way. Once the saviors of the kingdom of Midland, the Band of the Hawk are now hunted as they desperately fight for their lives while plotting to free their leader, Griffith, after he was imprisoned for committing treason. But the man they save is far from the Griffith they remember.
Griffith is a shell of his former charismatic self after a year of continuous, horrific torture. No longer able to walk, speak, or even hold a sword, he has nothing but the small, strange trinket, the Crimson Behelit, that will not leave him. The entire Band of the Hawk want to rise to greatness once more, but how much are they willing to sacrifice to return to their past glory? It doesn’t seem possible, but when Griffith’s heart darkens and a solar eclipse blackens the sky, the Behelit offers a choice that will leave the Band of the Hawk with a blood-soaked fate that will haunt them for the rest of their days.
The controversial CG in my humble opinion, has improved but still has its problems. I say the frame rate is more even and the frame size in proportion to the characters and foreground appropriately accommodates it. It still comes across as “gamey,” but it is an improvement, but by no means perfect. The action is very violent and lives up to its bad ass title. There will be plenty of blood and gore. Even though Guts is the main character and a bad ass, I will admit when this guy fights, he scares me and this movie does a good job of making me scared of the main character. There’s nothing to fear, but fear itself, but fear fears Guts. On a list of top anime bad asses, Guts has to be on that list no doubt.
I say what defines the art and animation is how it sets the atmosphere and brings you into the emotions. You feel Griffith’s fragility. Even though you don’t see him unmasked, the detail to the art on whatever you see of his face is enough to give you an idea of what he would look like if unmasked. You see the hesitation of Guts on whether or not he should leave the Hawks again. You feel Casca’s frustrations. I feel that the raw emotions bring a sense of substance in conjunction to its R-15+ (the equivalent to an NC-17 in America) rating.
The voice acting, as I have admitted in previous reviews, has been an issue for me. I will admit that Guts’ new actor has shown improvement and shown instances that he can capture the character. But I will openly admit as a purist and fanboy that Nobutoshi Canna is still Guts to me while Michael Bell will always be his English voice to me. The guy who plays Jedau does an ok imitation of the character’s original voice actor, Ishida Akira. Maybe for people not familiar with the previous anime series and the games will not find this to be an issue and may like the voice actors.
Like the second movie, the soundtrack is more acoustics and orchestrated. My thoughts on that carry onto this movie as well. It suits the time period very well and knows how to suit the atmosphere. The orchestra in the ending credits was very impressive. Susumu Hirakawa still does the opening theme and is my favorite part of the soundtrack. Still, like the newer voice cast, fans new to Berserk who had not seen the previous anime series or played the games will probably not think of this as an issue.
The closest thing to a spoiler I can give is that after the ending credits, there is a post credits scene which isn’t much for some people, but after that is over, there is a message in clear English that says “This is only the beginning” meaning we will get new Berserk movies. I say its only natural with the easter eggs in previous movies, this series deserves its shot where it really shines. For those not familiar with the Berserk manga, this new trilogy is a mere fraction of what Berserk has to offer. So I hope we hear more news soon if a new Berserk movie will come out this year or not.
After that, we get a bonus music video!!! So fans will most likely enjoy this.
After how much I bashed the first 2 Berserk films, you might be surprised to learn that I actually really liked the 3rd one! I try not to be petty and hold grudges, where I will automatically attack every work in a certain franchise or by a certain author, simply because I didn’t like previous entries. In the 3rd film covering the Eclipse portion of the Berserk storyline, they FINALLY get it right.
The first vast improvement is the pacing. The 3rd film covers an appropriate number of episodes, so the much beloved story and characters of Berserk don’t need to be massively watered down in order to fit a 2 hour run time. In fact, the 3rd film is able to give us background about the Berserk world that the original anime wasn’t able to fit in. We also get to actually see the full conclusion of the Eclipse instead of a random fade to black. We know from the first episode of the original Berserk anime that Guts survived the Eclipse, but the first anime doesn’t even hint as to how he could have survived it. The 3rd movie is able to fit in the Skull Knight in all his Deus ex Machina glory! Given the movie did unfortunately cut out the Skull Knight’s fight with Zodd the Immortal, but just showing the escape made it a massive improvement on the original ending. I also appreciated that the movie captured the full brutality and horror of the Eclipse even better than the first anime. There were parts of the original anime that I liked better including Judeau’s final confession of love for Caska. However, Berserk 3 still does a very solid job adapting this portion of the manga…unlike those first 2 movies.
On a technical level, the CGI is vastly improved and actually doesn’t look like complete shit for once. The music was also pretty solid throughout, although the extremely melodramatic piano piece when Griffith rapes Caska was a tad out of place. I wasn’t sure if he was going to rape her or tie her to a railroad track while evilly twisting his handlebar mustache.
Bonus Section: Trivia
The “Eclipse” happens every 216 years because 6 x 6 x 6 = 216.
The Godhand members are all named after obscure books by great fantasy/scifi writers that Miura likes. Each Godhand member is partially inspired by one of these titans of fantasy.
Void = Frank Herbert Conrad = Roger Zalazny Ubik = Philip K Dick Slan = AE van Vogt
Berserk is one of VERY few non-hentai titles to show pubic hair. Although there is no longer a censorship law against this in 2015, most anime don’t do this out of convention to keep the border between hentai and non-hentai echii clear.
Guts was named after the real life historical figure Gottfried “Götz” von Berlichingen, a badass medieval mercenary who fought with a prosthetic iron hand just like Guts.
Often hailed as one of, if not THE best mangas of all time, Berserk has earned itself a spot on many an avid manga reader’s “must read” lists and for good reason as it’s the quintessential dark fantasy manga and the ultimate story of friendship, tragedy, and the pursuit of self-destructive vengeance. This may very well be true in the manga, but Berserk’s animated history isn’t much to speak of. The TV series produced by Oriental Light & Magic in 1997 is hailed as a classic by many but its piss-poor animation along with its mortifying cliffhanger of an ending left a sour taste in the mouths of a lot of people (myself included). Unfortunately, this was the *only* adaptation of Berserk that ever existed… that is until Studio 4C announced that it would be releasing a series of films to adapt the Golden Age Arc of the Berserk manga. Are these movies any good? Personally, I say that they’re great but I’m pretty sure that statement of mine just evoked the wrath of thousands of Berserk fans. Allow me to explain myself:
As fans of a manga, it’s completely understandable that we’d want our adaptations to copy the source material verbatim, but the sad fact of the matter is that it’s just not possible whatsoever. Despite the fact that mangas are basically pre-drawn storyboards for anime studios to work with, anime and manga are two completely different mediums with different demands and nuances to work with. Changes *must* be made for the sake of things like time, narrative consistency, budget, and all that other stuff. If you’re going to get up in arms about how the adaptation lacks every single irrelevant detail from the source material that you adored the shit out of, do yourself a favour and stick with the manga because no matter which way you look at it, the adaptation will *always* be inferior to the source material so there’s no use in complaining about it.
On another note, censorship is generally not an issue when it comes to manga because S&P boards aren’t even a thing when it comes down to print media (well, I think they aren’t anyway). Anime broadcast on television however need to abide by certain standards and given the content that Berserk has, there’s no way it can last as a TV series without either suffering from extensive censorship OR butchering it to the point where it’s a completely different show than what it was intended to be. Cinema on the other hand, doesn’t have to put up with censorship (unless you’re in a country with a turbulent civil rights history like Saudi Arabia, China, or Iran) and it’s more readily accessible to a greater audience than it would’ve been otherwise had it been a TV series. Sure, Studio 4C could’ve easily made an OVA series like Space Battleship Yamato 2199 but ultra-violent GAR OVAs died in the late 80s and early 90s along with parachute pants, grunge music, and The Fat Boys. Also, I don’t think a lot of people would be too eager to buy a full season’s worth of one show on DVD/Blu-ray so there’s that to factor in as well.
Now with all of that stuff out of the way, let’s talk about the movies and how they actually are from a quality standpoint. Well I won’t mince words here: each film in the trilogy is better than the one that preceded it with “Eclipse” being the best and “The Egg of the King” being the worst (by default). Now, that’s not to say that the first movie in the trilogy was terrible because in all honesty, it really wasn’t. It was a fair enough introduction to Berserk, the storytelling was fair enough (albeit rather clunky) and hey! We finally got a chance to see a battle animated properly (and in 1080p) instead of seeing blown-up watercolour stills so that’s also quite lovely. The problem lies in the way the film itself was actually animated. It’s strange to say, but that’s the most succinct way to explain the problem.
Studio 4C is an awesome studio and they’ve got some great stuff on their resume like the short film “Magnetic Rose” from the Memories trilogy by Katsuhiro Otomo, Steamboy, The Animatrix, and Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox (if you wanna include their collaborative projects with Warner Bros). Yeah, these guys aren’t slouches when it comes down to the audiovisual department. The problem is that the Golden Age Arc of Berserk contains no shortage of large-scale battles that are incredibly difficult to animate in two dimensions. To mitigate this issue, Studio 4C opted to integrate varying degrees of CG animation into the mix in order to actually animate all those large-scale battles and it works absolutely beautifully in those situations.
Unfortunately, they decided to maintain the CG even when there weren’t any battles to actually animate in the first movie and it just looks so ridiculously clunky to the point where there’s something eerie about it. That clunky CG animation is basically what caused so many people to not even bother giving these movies a chance despite the fact that it actually does get better as time went on. I’m not going to lie, the CG is an eyesore but there’s no denying that the animation across all three movies is a million leagues better than the barely-animated rubbish the TV series had to offer (do keep in mind I’m talking about the animation of the TV series, the story and characters are quite lovely). Hell, the third movie actually got the CG right and used it to great effect during the Eclipse (which I’ll talk about later).
In regard to the story and characters, I must say that Studio 4C did a pretty good job (especially given that they were trying to cover 11 volumes’ worth of content within the span of 3 films). The Golden Age Arc of Berserk is the ultimate story of hardship and sacrifice fuelled by the pursuit of one man’s dream. We start our journey in the middle of a century-long war between two kingdoms. Midland, our country of origin was forced to enlist the help of countless mercenaries just to supplement their waning military forces. In the process, they enlisted two people: our aimless protagonist with no goals in life, Guts and the charismatic and ambitious Griffith and the rest of his team known as the “Band of the Hawk.” Through circumstance, Guts ends up joining Griffith and his band of mercenaries and I’ll just leave the rest for you to experience.
Yeah, there are a lot of things missing from these movies that the TV series had but Studio 4C managed to retain the “spirit” of Berserk throughout the course of the trilogy. Sure, some events are either implied or omitted entirely but most (if not all) of the important stuff from the Golden Age Arc remain intact and dare I say that these movies managed to portray these events much better than the TV series and even the manga ever could. I’m not even being hyperbolic or anything of the sort. A lot of the highlights of the Golden Age Arc just “take” to being animated and I can safely say that Studio 4C did virtually everything they could to make those highlights from the manga stand out and work much better than they ever could’ve if they were just black-and-white panels upon pages with no sound whatsoever.
On that note, let’s talk about the Eclipse. If you’ve EVER spent any time around the Berserk fandom, chances are that you’ve heard of this event and have a vague idea of what it is. But for those of you who aren’t well-versed in the ways of Berserk, I’ll explain what it is. The Golden Age arc of the manga is first and foremost, a protracted flashback that lasted from Volume 3 of the manga to Volume 14. Berserk initially starts off with Guts in the present time in pursuit of Griffith for reasons that were never revealed until the climax of the GAA. The Eclipse is nothing short of a cataclysmic nightmare that seamlessly merged ghastly and surreal horror with heart-wrenching tragedy. A recurring theme throughout the course of the Golden Age arc is causality and the existence of free will. Throughout the manga and the films, these theme was always working its magic in the background and gave us hints and foreshadowing of the ghastly nightmare that we would later experience.
Unfortunately, the TV series lacked this sort of foreshadowing almost entirely. By the time the Eclipse actually happened, it just came out of nowhere. The impact of the Eclipse was lost completely because the themes of causality and the supernatural were downplayed heavily in lieu of putting more emphasis on camaraderie and friendship. Hypothetically, this could’ve led to a more impactful tragedy but the problem is that there was no foreshadowing whatsoever. Instead of making us crap our pants in pure, unadulterated terror whilst also making us cry like little bitches because of the fact that all of this horrible shit is happening to characters we’ve grown to know and love, it made us scratch our heads in confusion… oh, and that’s not even getting into the appalling animation making the entire ordeal difficult to take seriously and how all of this actually ended in the TV series.
Thankfully, none of that was the case when it came down to the third Berserk movie and its portrayal of the Eclipse. In fact, it managed to perfectly capture the sheer intensity of the Eclipse as a cataclysmic tragedy in ways that both the TV series AND the manga failed to do. A lot of this can be chalked up to the fact that Studio 4C did an outstanding job with the animation. Did I forget to mention that the Eclipse is one of the bloodiest and most gruesome parts of Berserk to ever exist (because that’s kinda important…)? The way Studio 4C went about portraying the Eclipse was so graphic to the point where people who actually saw this movie in theatres ended up having to leave because it was just too much for some people to actually sit through. This is the way that the Eclipse was meant to be portrayed from the very beginning. The third movie succeeded where the source material and its previous adaptation failed. I’d love to keep going, but I think that’ll reach into some seriously spoiler-heavy territory and I think I spoiled more than enough at this point.
On that note, let’s talk about how it ends. The TV series ended on what is undoubtedly the single most depressing point of the entire story, but the actual resolution of the Golden Age arc in the manga wasn’t like that at all. Though the TV series left the overall story of the GAA is left largely intact, many alterations had to be made so that the entire story could fit within the span of 25 episodes. Because of this, the guys at OLM decided that it would be an absolutely fantastic idea to just omit the ACTUAL resolution of the Golden Age arc and just ended it on such a mortifying cliffhanger to the point where anyone who wasn’t familiar with the source material would be shouting at the screen going “What the actual fuck?!” The movies completely and totally avoided this and I’m SO thankful that Studio 4C managed to get it right. All you manga purist Berserk fans can talk shit about the films all you want, but there’s no denying that the way the third movie got right what the TV series got wrong.
Now, you may be wondering whether or not the movies do a good enough job of making us care about the characters. Personally, I think that the movie managed to do a great job but others may beg to differ because of the fact that the Golden Age Arc movies cut out a lot of stuff. While I can’t really say much about the secondary/tertiary characters, I can safely say that the movies hit the nail on the head when it came down to our dynamic duo of Guts and Griffith which is what ultimately matters in the end. It’s the dynamic between these two and the rest of the cast that made this arc of the manga so captivating to read in the first place.
Guts started out as a wandering mercenary with a brutal past, no friends, and nothing to aspire toward. His encounter with Griffith and the Band of the Hawk led to him finally knowing what it was like to have friends. What’s more is that it was revealed that despite all of the horrible things that Guts went through in the past, he’s got such a capacity for things like love, trust, friendship, and all that other stuff. At the same time, the GAA by and large is a tragedy and we all know that shit will end horribly for Guts and that he’ll take up his sword in pursuit of vengeance no matter what the cost. I don’t think it’s any stretch to say that he is without a doubt, one of Berserk’s greatest assets. The movies retain the very essence of this tragic character and makes it so that we’ll always have a reason to root for him in the end.
That’s not to invalidate Griffith, because he’s just as great a character as Guts is. Griffith has evoked the ire of countless Berserk fans for his actions in the manga that I’m not at liberty to discuss, but don’t let that make you think he’s not a great character in the slightest. I viscerally despise everything there is about Griffith, and yet I can still find myself finding some modicum of sympathy for him (Kentaro Miura might be fapping away to Idolmaster these days, but there’s no denying that he’s more than capable of writing amazing characters). Many of us have larger-than-life ambitions, but Griffith is one of the few who actually makes the effort to chase after those foolhardy childhood dreams that we end up letting go of as we get older. Throughout the course of the Golden Age arc, Griffith is depicted as a sort of demigod and it isn’t until he encounters Guts when his cool shell starts to crack as he and Guts end up becoming like brothers. It’s this very bond between these two that provides the catalyst for almost all of Berserk’s highlights and tragedies. If you want to know more, then you know what you need to do: watch the bloody movies and then read the bloody manga for context!
Before I wrap this review up, I want to take the time to talk about one last thing: the audio. The Golden Age Arc trilogy’s OST and dubbing is absolutely spectacular. Say what you will about the animation, but there’s no denying that everyone in the sound department deserves a gold medal for their work. On the OST side of things, every single track is absolutely spectacular and fits the mood perfectly… except one track during the climax of the third movie which makes me wonder if Griffith was wearing a top hat, a monocle, and had a thin moustache he was twirling around in one finger whilst waiting for an oncoming train to run over Casca (but let’s not get into that). Of all the tracks that were played across all three movies, I’d have to say that “Blood and Guts” (the ending theme of the first and third movies) would have to be my favourite because it perfectly captures the tragic nature of Guts as a character (that, and it also sounds REALLY fucking awesome).
As for the dubbing, I really have to give props to Viz because they not only hired the bulk of the original cast of the TV series’ dub, but they gave them better voice direction and also managed to sync up the mouth movements properly! Marc Diraison did a wonderful job in the TV series, but he really gets a chance to shine under Viz’s direction. As for Kevin T. Collins, well his work as Griffith is absolutely spot-on and almost everything I’ve said about Marc Diraison can be applied to him as well. My only complaint however is the fact that there are no outtake reels on the DVD/Blu-ray release of any of the movies (at least from what I can gather). Come on, guys… if the guys at Media Blasters have the dignity to show their bloopers, you guys can do it too.
So, what else is there to say about these movies? Hm… well, I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that these movies are definitely worth watching. As an introduction to Berserk, these movies do an excellent job with acquainting any potential newcomers with everything whilst giving long-time fans of the series a properly animated adaptation that while condensed and short, manages to perfectly encapsulate virtually everything there is to love about this series. At present, there is no sequel to this film trilogy, so if you’re new to Berserk and you just finished the third movie, you’ll have to do one of two things:
a) Read the manga from the very beginning so that you can see what you missed out on whilst also learning what became of Guts et al post-Eclipse.
b) Wait for Studio 4C to release the next instalment of their Berserk adaptation. They have stated previously that they have plans to adapt the rest of the manga, but they’ve yet to release anything.
Personally, I’d recommend the first option, but waiting ain’t half bad if you don’t wanna buy volumes or put up with shitty scanlations. Anyway, that’s all for now. Feedback’s always welcome and with that, I’m out. Peace 🙂
2: Mahou Shoujo Madoka★Magica Movie 3: Hangyaku no Monogatari
English: Puella Magi Madoka Magica the Movie: Rebellion
Japanese: 劇場版 魔法少女まどか☆マギカ 叛逆の物語
MAL Score: 8.45
The young girls of Mitakihara happily live their lives, occasionally fighting off evil, but otherwise going about their peaceful, everyday routines. However, Homura Akemi feels that something is wrong with this unusually pleasant atmosphere—though the others remain oblivious, she can’t help but suspect that there is more to what is going on than meets the eye: someone who should not exist is currently present to join in on their activities.
Mahou Shoujo Madoka★Magica Movie 3: Hangyaku no Monogatari follows Homura in her struggle to uncover the painful truth behind the mysterious circumstances, as she selfishly and desperately fights for the sake of her undying love in this despair-ridden conclusion to the story of five magical girls.
There’re cliffhanger anime for people to die for a sequel.
There’re even anime that just leaves cliffhangers and never come back.
There’re those garbage anime that you just don’t feel anything at all.
And there’s Madoka, an anime with an amazing story, art, sound, character, but a soulless and downright devilish ending.
There will be absolutely no plot at all, because I want people to understand and be ready for anything.
And, I tell you, you’ll need to be.
[P.S. There are absolutely no plot summaries in here, but the vocabularies and terms I use may indirectly suggest a minor point of the story.]
This story is meant to leave an unsatisfactory ending. The motif is pretty clear: the Bible and the genesis of God and Lucifer.
Come on, our world hasn’t come to an end, has it? A story based on our world, a never-ending cycle of unsatisfactory endings cannot be satisfactory by itself, unless by deception and/or imagination.
Urobuchi, author of Fate/Zero and Madoka among many others, is famous for a seamless plotline. I cannot state that this movie has brought down his fame, because all his stories had dark motifs. Indeed, this movie has left an unsatisfactory ending, but this is a masterpiece, creating an amazing transition between theogenesis and diablogenesis.
How could I dare say that unsatisfying ending crushes this masterpiece?
Imagine Madoka being reanimated with Monogatari: Second Season’s animation technology.
Now add malice to that.
Now add another plot twist to that.
That does not even begin how great the movie was.
The seemingly childish animation was still there, but the malice was all the more heightened, getting into the fine line between creepiness and evilness.
A wise mangaka once stated that drawing a malicious face (not angry face) was not an easy job. He stated that the background, the eye, the position of the panel, the position of the character, darkness, facial expression and etc were all necessary to make one malicious face.
Then how much harder would it be to draw nearly an hour-long malice?
Shaft studio, producers of monogatari series and of course madoka among many others, is known for their ability to, despite using quite “cheating” methods, send chills down the viewers’ spine. Using scenes where the character simply stands, or where the name of the font used or color of the scene or sometimes seemingly scanning the clothings or skirts of an unknown origin, Shaft studio actually makes a great success of delivering an heightened message to the viewers.
And, truth be told, I could not catch a single misgivings about the animation of the movie. When malice was needed, Shaft did their job. When they needed a happy tea time, Shaft did their job. When they needed a battle scene, Shaft did their job. No more colors or fonts. They did their job.
If there’s one criterion I always cut down and attack, it’s the sound. Being a very keen person in sound, I always wanted the producers to use the “perfect” BGMs (of course nothing is perfect but still I can dream?!) at the “perfect” moment. But I have to say it–rebellion nailed it.
The song was as creepy as it could get. The background musics at the moment of realization was so good that I got a chill down my spine and nearly pissed myself (true story). On the opening, ClaRis did their usual mislead. The general “ah, this is a magical girls’ story! There’re absolutely no genre-twisting stories or one of those Urobuchi things in here!” and comforted the slaughter lambs. Then, came the usual malice.
Scary it was.
And somehow, even at the ending, although the song was in major pitch and no double voice or alterations have been added, it was still creepy and malicious. It created a sense of Judas’ kiss, meaning that while the act itself was a beautiful act, the inner sense was dark enough to creep our intestines. If there is one thing that music should do, it is to do that. Even through the electronic amplifiers, music should always deliver the feelings.
Rebellion was an amazing exemplification of this job of music. It did its job when it needed to, creeping our guts out after cleansing our soul with “cute” music, then presenting the “Judas’ kiss”.
Sound–a job well done.
No one expected this.
No one could have expected this.
No one could have seen this coming.
Yet this was inevitable.
Urobuchi always does this. He reveals a down-to-Earth fact that has been in front of our face the whole time yet at the same time a fact that no one has realized.
The development of our main character, Akemi Homura, is wonderfully presented with this motif.
Her “transfiguration” was something no one have realized, yet something so obvious and inevitable that everybody should have known.
I will not go onto further details.
As for minor characters, such as Mami, Sayaka, Kyouko and our all-time hated con artist, MOTHER****ING KYUBEY, they have done their job spectacularly. Every bit of stories they shared and every bit of clues they presented showed and developed the story rapidly. In a way, they “created” the main character. It is always difficult to involve all of the characters and giving all of them important roles. Failure to do so may not be the doom of the anime, but a horrible trial of doing so means the end of the anime and doom of its production. However, Rebellion Story, while providing every character a role, also succeeded in not awkwardly fitting in their roles into the original plot.
It is indeed a job well done.
Now, before you say anything or go away, let me explain myself.
Indeed, this was an amazing movie, and I don’t think any other movie can create a seamless storyline as this one.
However, I didn’t enjoy this at all.
In fact, I don’t think I can ever see the movie again.
It was too soul-breaking that it felt like my soul was breaking apart.
Indeed its story was good, indeed the art was amazing, indeed the sound did its job, indeed the character development was godly.
But I just couldn’t like it.
Still, this was only my opinion. Some people might like it.
In fact, exactly because I liked it, I want people to watch this.
It both critiques the conventional “now everybody’s happy” anime endings and the well-known “good guy always is the good guy” logic and crashes it down to Earth.
Because of this, I have to take off the Enjoyment spectrum out of the overall rate.
It indeed is an important aspect of anime, but not in this one. This movie DOESN’T want you to enjoy the show. And that is exactly why this is great.
Great story, art, sound and character.
It is the work of our lifetime.
Don’t miss it.
If you are in a region where you can go watch the movie, you are blissed.
GO WATCH IT.
IT’S WORTH EVERY PENNY.
Then, happy anime-ing.
I dreaded the day that a sequel came to fruition for Madoka Magica. This was a show that ended on a rather ambiguous note but still left a good, everlasting impression in its original run, hinting that there was really no need for a sequel, an explanation, or an “After Story”, for that matter. I’m not saying I don’t want any more of it, not at all. But seriously, Gen Urobuchi, there’s no way you can write a sequel any better than the original series, especially when your original series was THAT good. So yeah. Like…. just stop.
Okay, I was jumping like a schoolgirl when I heard that there was a new Madoka Magica, but I didn’t have much hope for this one either.
But what I believed to be a mediocre attempt to capture the world by storm and ultimately fail, I was proven wrong. I hate being wrong. I can’t stand the thought of being wrong. To me, being wrong, is just wrong.
Never been happier to be wrong.
Story: What the original series packed was a story that was armed to the teeth with dark undertones and twists so shocking, Lindsay Lohan could be one month sober from her usual crack fiend habits and the power of the message would still be ultimately missing. So when Madoka Magica was renewed for a sequel film, they ultimately took the exact same impact and made it even better. For those of you who have already seen the original (and you HAVE to see it first), you might be wondering, “how does it get any better?” Remember when Madoka transcended into the heavens and became a holy power? Think of this as God’s believer trying to make direct contact.
However, I think the real impact of the film doesn’t happen until much, MUCH later. You’re watching for an hour and thirty minutes and you probably haven’t reached it yet. Ten minutes later, you’re probably…. almost there, and I’m specifying what happens near the end. When you hear from other MAL users about how the ending was a serious shock, nobody knew how to take it, “ending of Oreimo”, all that stuff, that’s all true. But if you still have a vague idea of what they’re talking about, then imagine it this way: life gives you a cookie, then kicks you in the third leg just to take it back (if you don’t have one, forget the reference!). Only difference is, if life does it, you’re rolling on the floor, writhing in pain. The ending to this third movie turns you into Niagara Falls for a while.
The story is just splendid.
Art: Aniplex can screw up just about anything on this list in the eyes of some, but if there’s something a pissed-off fanboy or a nine-year-old shounen rage kid cannot base his bad rating on, it’s the animation. Looks clean, characters move in a crisp and fluid motion, and the Nightmares that appear, while they don’t retain the same animation style as the rest of the characters/scenes, it blends in, oddly enough. If they did those sequences wrong, it would pop out very noticeably, especially given the two conflicting animation styles. Fortunately, there’s a sense of depth, and instead of that bolstered look where a character looks as if they “happen” to appear in the scene, the character looks like they’re actually there (and there is a HUGE difference between the two definitions).
Sound: I’m a fan of ClariS.
…..yeah, moving on…..
Character: I didn’t quite understand Homura’s actions the first time I watched the movie, but after a good runthrough over the exact section I was skeptical about, I had to use my own judgment and speak for myself, “it’s logical, it makes sense.” This is the exact same place in the movie where everyone spreads rumors about Gen Urobuchi “ripping out your hearts and sending you into a black oblivion of nothingness and despair and I’m gonna go kill myself and-” you get the idea. You’ll just have to watch this part for yourself and make your own decision about Homura’s actions (that’s a small spoiler, I think, but I know it’s not enough to spoil the entire thing).
I don’t like forgettable characters. Not the forgettable ones in the sense that we see them once throughout the whole movie and they dick off for the rest of the time to do as they please because we don’t need them. I don’t like forgettable MAIN characters, and while Sayaka was one of the main cast of the original series (and still is), I feel like she was neglected most of the time, and never really got the spotlight even after Kyouko came in, who ended up stealing it (as far as Character Favorites on MAL tells me). With the amount of screen time Sayaka got in the original series, I was impartial about her death. It never struck me as particularly noteworthy. That changes with the third movie. Her role is more defined, we do get to see more of her, and this “more of her” that we see isn’t just a way to give Sayaka fans something to squeal about. This is her own persona, her own contribution, and what I would call redemption from her lack of presence in the first movie. I’m more delighted by the idea that Urobuchi doesn’t neglect to use his characters when he needs them.
Enjoyment: If you can classify “enjoyment” as sitting at home and drowning in my own puddle of tears while watching, then yes, I did enjoy it.
Madoka Magica is one of those shows that never initially grabbed my attention, but then again, it doesn’t take very much to draw me in at the same time. All it needs? Good storyline, good execution, and I can cope with the rest. But while a select number of shows can do a combination of both and I would still point out a flaw or two, and while some will gradually lose my initial attention, Madoka Magica is, for me, a very, VERY difficult show to dislike or change the rating of, or keep my eyes off for that matter. I wasn’t swayed by the hype, I’ve listened to all the criticism, and at the end of the day, this series still stands as one of the best series I’ve seen, if not the absolute best. Even with the ending as controversial as it is, there’s no way I can bring myself to dislike this series. I thought it wasn’t a proper ending, as diehard of a fan as I could be, but I was satisfied having seen it.
And while I have a tendency to associate myself with shoujo and rom-com shows, I’ll have to admit eventually that I loved the action sequences just as equally as the idle explanation scenes. You know, those ones where they just sit around and talk to each other? Yeah, I don’t know why I like those scenes. Maybe I’m just weird.
Overall: I think everyone who previously didn’t know I like watching anime and everyone who does know has heard this from me at least twice within the past two days: WATCH THIS MOVIE. If I keep this up, I probably won’t have a social life. Whatever the case, I don’t think I’ve been this hyped over an anime show, nor have I had such a strong desire to watch it again.
Maybe I’m being biased because this is my favorite show, and maybe I’m missing something here and I failed to pick it up, and while this third movie may probably be one of those shows that will still get bogged down on hype alone, there’s no reason for any of that. It’s brilliant, it’s well-thought-out, and it really doesn’t need any of its hype to prove its worth.
The final chapter in the highly acclaimed Madoka trilogy/show has come to a close, and studio Shaft has closed this book right (if not heart wrenching). The story is all tied to Homura after the events of the first two films. We follow her as the story travels down a road most fans never saw coming, but since this is the final chapter there is an end to this road. A very fitting end. I won’t go into detail because of spoiler reasons, but some fans might feel crossed (Homura’s actions during the final moments of the film). Thematically speaking this series has always been about the balance of hope and despair. How the influx of these two emotions create the balance of the world. I feel that once you see the film (and are done crying in a puddle of tears), if you think about what the show has been leading up to, then there is no other way this could have ended. Also there is some excellent fan pandering in the film. Several fights, and scenes were crafted for your viewing pleasure and entertainment. Which this being the final film I really appreciated (mainly in the beginning of the movie). Very minor complaints are near the beginning of the film tho. Lets just say it is a little jarring (for a good reason of course), and takes a little while to get going. Once it gets moving however it never stops, which is a good thing given the run time of the film. Overall an excellently crafted narrative, and conclusion to the series. Filled with tid bits, and nods to the fans of the series. What more could you ask for from a final chapter? For me at least, nothing.
I’ve always been a fan of the style of animation in the Madoka franchise. The artistic nature of the backgrounds, and the world I have always found incredibly appealing. Here is no different. The world is beautifully rendered, and full of little details brimming with color and imagination. The Character designs are top notch as well. Fans will be happy to know there is also new transformation scenes, which look fantastic as well. The fights in this hold a cinematic quality to it that I just don’t see in Anime all that often. They were fluid and fast, which added to the spectacle of what was going on. If the Madoka animation hasn’t shined you on in the past then I don’t think this one will do anything different. For fans on the other hand, they will be happy.
The rule of thumb, besides pure enjoyment, that I use for judging an OST is if it amplifies the tone of the film. All to fitting is what I can say. The music moves with the scenes, and allows the audience to feel connected to it that much more. The voice acting as well is top notch. Saito, Chiwa delivers a fantastic performance as Homura, which is a good thing considering this is her show. Everyone else was great across the board, but her specifically was a stand out.
Everyone is back this time around including some new additions. Of course the spot light is on Homura in this film, and this journey for her has been a rough one. It truly is heart breaking. Now like I said earlier some fans will be split on Homura’s actions in the latter half of this film. So it is up to you to decide on how you feel at the end, but for me it was tragic in a good way. I’ve rarely ever felt more understanding, and sympathetic for a character. This is the fruition of her development, and it is damn good. Concerning the rest of the cast, none of them were really side lined, except for the new addition, Nagisa. Nagisa is the new “magical girl” in the film, and she is underused. Which I am actually fine with considering I came to see the characters I have grown to love, but then I just think back to why she was there to start with (fan service probably). Anyways it was great to see everyone for one last show, and minus the addition of Nagisa, they brought their all.
This film broke my heart in all the right ways, and I will take good story telling over happy any day. Filled with moments that made me want to cheer, and sink into a pit of sadness; this final film was what I needed in my life.
Like all good books one has to reach the last page sometime, and this closing chapter delivers. As a fan I would recommend this to anyone who has enjoyed the original series/films (because they are necessary for this one). If Madoka was never your thing then this won’t win you over. Fantastic characters, story, art, and sound, nothing more to really say except one hell of a good film, and I can’t wait to watch it again. As always thanks for reading.
1: Steins;Gate Movie: Fuka Ryouiki no Déjà vu
English: Steins;Gate: The Movie Load Region of Déjà Vu
Japanese: 劇場版 シュタインズゲート 負荷領域のデジャヴ
MAL Score: 8.47
After a year in America, Kurisu Makise returns to Akihabara and reunites with Rintarou Okabe. However, their reunion is cut short when Okabe begins to experience recurring flashes of other timelines as the consequences of his time traveling start to manifest. These side effects eventually culminate in Okabe suddenly vanishing from the world, and only the startled Kurisu has any memory of his existence.
In the midst of despair, Kurisu is faced with a truly arduous choice that will test both her duty as a scientist and her loyalty as a friend: follow Okabe’s advice and stay away from traveling through time to avoid the potential consequences it may have on the world lines, or ignore it to rescue the person that she cherishes most. Regardless of her decision, the path she chooses is one that will affect the past, the present, and the future.
How does one continue a story that has already wrapped up perfectly? The announcement of a Steins;Gate sequel film was inevitably met by both caution and anticipation. Like the concept of travelling backwards in time, Steins;Gate: Fuka Ryouiki no Déjà vu is a paradox. It does not need to exist, and yet it still has every right to.
It could have been an ordinary piece of fanservice, a throwaway story, and some would have been perfectly content with that. It could have been a forgettable prequel or even a retelling of the TV series’ story. There were so many options available that you can’t help but wonder, why on Earth did they choose to make a direct sequel of all things? It’s almost as if they were asking, begging for a disaster.
The end result has proven to be anything but a disaster. This is a continuation every bit as compelling as it is justified.
Taking place exactly one year after the events of the main series, Fuka Ryouiki no Déjà vu depicts a seemingly blissful world. There is no SERN, no time machines, no unavoidable deaths– but still something is amiss. Okabe’s memories are distorted. His experiences with time travel have made him an unstable entity. Perhaps it’s just a fit of emotional trauma, he thinks, but his worst fears are realised when he suddenly disappears from existence, trapped between multiple World Lines. Miraculously, Kurisu manages to remember Okabe’s existence through a steady case of deja vu – determined now to do everything she can to stop him from disappearing forever.
Kurisu’s role as the protagonist is the film’s greatest strength. While the TV series primarily focused on her intellect and relationship with Okabe, the film instead decides to show a more human side to her character. Kurisu’s emotional state takes the centre stage this time, her being subjected to many of the same horrors that Okabe previously experienced. Even when it comes to the light-hearted ‘moe’ scenes (and there’s quite a few in the beginning), Kurisu’s personality remains consistent and believable. She acts flustered and embarrassed not for cheap pandering, but because she’s not used to having close relationships – she’s dedicated her entire life to science. The term “tsundere” does not even feel appropriate. Kurisu is simply a human being with her own flawed personality… although, to be fair, she is pretty much the modern day Einstein.
Fans of Okabe will not be disappointed either. There is plenty of the usual banter and Hououin Kyouma shenanigans within the first thirty minutes of the story. It’s only after that point that Okabe actually begins to disappear, and the minutes after still occasionally see him appear. What makes Okabe stand out, however, are the moments between him and Kurisu. We see the romance explored in much greater detail than the TV series, which more or less ended it at a single kiss scene. One of the most powerful moments in the entire series (not something to be said lightly) occurs as Okabe painfully convinces Kurisu to forget him, content with disappearing in return for her safety. Without an episode number to constantly remind us that there’s more story to come, there is a perpetual feeling of anxiety not knowing what might happen. What if it actually ends that way? Nothing is for certain.
Also of note is a short scene near the beginning with a drunk Kurisu teasing Okabe and rubbing against his face. I may just nominate that for the cutest moment of the year.
The rest of the cast is largely ignored, but it is mostly for the better. The side characters have never been the series’ strong suit, particularly with regards to Mayuri, so scatterbrained that you would assume she has brain damage. The @channel references are also kept to a minimum this time around, although there is still plenty of the ol’ Dr. Pepper advertising.
For as great as Kurisu’s and Okabe’s characterisation is, there are still some minor faults in the story. My main gripe is that there is a lot of build-up and yet very little climax. The entire story builds up towards something grand… and then it all ends within about five minutes of talking on a bench. Compared to the last two episodes of the main series, it all feels a bit disappointing. Perhaps it simply needed an extra ten or twenty minutes of screen-time, as the rest of the film never felt like it was being rushed. There is also a short instance of melodrama (Kurisu running and falling as she chases after Okabe) and the changes made to the sci-fi canon would have benefited from a stronger explanation, but neither of these are bothersome enough to dampen the overall experience. Just don’t be expecting much realism from the science aspect – this is a story about time travel, after all.
Much like the TV series, the soundtrack of Fuka Ryouiki no Déjà vu is stellar all-around. The score mainly comprises of ambient sound and moody piano pieces, subtle enough to add to the atmosphere without being overbearing. In the one scene where the music is most noticeable (a piano version of the main theme playing in the background), it is genuinely emotional, never melodramatic. Kanako Ito also makes a return for the opening song of the film, effectively creating a sense of familiarity for fans of the series. Special props should also be given to Asami Imai for providing some of the strongest voice acting in years.
The visual quality is about on par with the TV series. While there is little animation and few scenes that strike the eye, it never quite feels like it needed more than that. It is consistent and plenty adequate for an animated film. My only complaint is that it lacks colour – the original Huke artwork from the visual novel was so much more interesting.
Steins;Gate: Fuka Ryouiki no Déjà vu is a veritable triumph. Rather than simply exist as a superfluous sequel (or worse – a bad one), it succeeds in enhancing the overall story. Kurisu is now as strong of a character as Okabe ever was. The relationship between the two has finally been explored with the attention and detail that it truly deserves. This is the definitive end to the story and it proves difficult to let go. Maybe it didn’t need to exist, but I’m still glad it was made. Some things are worth waiting for.
Steins;Gate: Fuka Ryouiki no Déjà vu is quite simply a thrilling, romantic and beautifully heart-warming experience.
The Story: 9/10
Under the production of White Fox, the original Steins;Gate anime made in 2011 has received it’s long waited movie arrival. The original Steins;Gate anime was under high critical acclaim, and was successful in both Japan and Western countries where it was the spotlight anime for the year. And it had such a great reason to be there. It was quite simply stunning. Shortly afterwards, the special of Steins;Gate was released and ranked to be the highest rated special on MyAnimeList. Here then, we have the next Steins;Gate addition. Steins;Gate: Fuka Ryouiki no Déjà vu. The actual story of this movie takes one year after the events of the anime series where Okabe has finished his assiduous, terrifying travel between world lines where he has miraculously reached the Steins;Gate world line. After a while, he starts feeling disorientated with the constant world line swapping which causes him to eventually dissolve and be forgotten from everyone’s minds. Kurisu remembers him from déjà vu, and from there complications begin to arise.
The story was told in such a way that it could be said Steins;Gate: Fuka Ryouiki no Déjà vu could be a smaller movie version of the Steins;Gate anime. Similar to the start of the anime, Steins;Gate FRDV starts off with quite an identical kickoff, minus Kurisu dying. Then we have the meeting of the characters, all is well then next second you know it, the same intensifying thriller in Steins;Gate is met here in the movie. The overall story is quite similar to the normal Steins;Gate except shorter, and more focused on the relationship between Okabe and Kurisu and their ability to make decisions. It’s good to see the rules of world lines are still intact in this movie, and they even mention it a couple of times and explain more about it (regarding Okabe’s case, of course). But, you definitely need to focus in the explanations to get it. As the story progresses, it does get slightly more predictable at times but this can be dismissed quite quickly, as it is just as astonishing as if you didn’t identify it. The pacing of the story, for a movie of only 90 minutes is extremely good and very little scenes were particularly rushed.
The individual elements of Steins;Gate: Fuka Ryouiki no Déjà vu is quite good. The Sci-Fi setting follows on from the Steins;Gate anime and the thriller and romance you find there are just as well done here. The suspense in the movie was done perfectly well timed which just accompanied well with the thriller. Romance in this movie plays quite a part in the plot/story and it’s very well fleshed out. Feelings towards each other contribute to how the main protagonists make decisions and in turn helps to create the certain drama element Steins;Gate has acquired. The ending is entirely satisfying, one that will leave you with a feeling of peace and fullness in the Steins;Gate universe.
The Art: 8/10
The art style is pretty much like the previous. The textures in the background shades were spectacularly made to attend to the main characters, whose expressions were done realistically and whose movement was fluid throughout the movie which was pleasing to the eye. This makes it it’s own art style which is separate from other anime which were adapted from visual novels. The art style is very fitting for the story. The dark shades accompanied the mood in the scene very well and made the simplest streets look like the most eye-catching scenery. Background scenery was rarely ever lively, but it was this that made you feel how the characters might possibly have felt at that time. Character designs are similar to the ones met before in the anime. Each character design was different- from the plump Itaru to someone as small as Mayuri. And all were in high condition. Overall animation panels looked strikingly high in quality and led the story line very strongly.
The Sound: 8/10
Steins;Gate: Fuka Ryouiki no Déjà vu has the same character voice actors as the anime, so instantly you can familiarize with them. Each voice fits the character they show and are each unique. From the ‘nyaaa…’ of Akiha to the ‘tuuuturu…’s of Mayuri, each one was very likable in voice and performance. Background music blended in with the scenes quite well and helped to frame the certain atmosphere in the plot. Sound is a powerful tool in shaping the audiences emotions towards characters or story developments and here, it was used quite well. The opening song is worth mentioning, as the theme song performance was done by Kanako Ito- the same person who sung ‘Hacking to the Gate’ in the Steins;Gate anime. This is instantly recognizable in her voice, and makes her ideal to lead the anime with an opening sung by her. The ending is sung by Ayane, a change from Yui Sakakibara who sung the ending in the previous anime. This isn’t much of an issue, but if you liked her you would probably feel a bit bummed. [Just one thing to note, at the moment this Steins;Gate movie does not have a dubbed. I’ll update this when I hear news of one and have confirmed it.]
The Characters: 9/10
Character development started off with the assumption that you watched the anime and the special, as it mentions events in the two quite a couple of times. The characters were quite unique- each of them had a strength and a flaw. The supporting cast had its same use of bringing in a relaxing feeling into the movie. It’s also good to know that they even have the same voice actors for the movie as they had in Steins;Gate. Though none directly contribute to the story line other than Suzuha, it was very welcome that they were shown. Each one of the supporting cast is quite likable in some way and they almost never seemed to be annoying. Their peacefulness contradicts with what the main characters are feeling, and this helped to emphasize the mood of the progressing plot. Of the supporting cast, Suzuha is the most fleshed out- mostly because it is her that actually has any major interaction to the main characters.
Mayuri’s most obvious flaw has to be that she is a little blunt, but even that has strengths. Due to this, she is more open and contributes to the development of the story- power she didn’t have as much in the anime- even by the random things she might say. Itaru is someone who can be said to be the ‘tool’ of the movie. People in the Lab give him things to do, and he does it. Otherwise he simply sits around on the seat clicking away at the computer. Okabe didn’t have as much screen time as he did in the anime, and this is mostly because of the fact that he is meant to be the one saved by Kurisu. His absence in certain scenes attributed to this, and so Kurisu was able to mimic the feelings Okabe felt in the anime which, in turn connects to the viewers. Kurisu is probably the most versatile character in the movie. Her development as a person is clearly seen throughout the movie and is displayed in all the little to big choices that she makes. It’s her choices and personal emotion that leads the direction of plot in the movie. She is given the most screen time and the producers have made use of this extremely effectively by making her the most pivotal character in this fragile story. Her decisions are mostly characterized by the emotion she feels in the given time and in this sense, it’s very realistic.
The Enjoyment: 10/10
Personally, this is the most enjoying movie I have ever watched. The thrill when a shiver is sent up your spine is such a surprising and addicting feeling and the romance was quite lovingly solid. Others who have watched Steins;Gate and have enjoyed it will also most likely enjoy it. I haven’t re-watched this, as I just finished watching but if you enjoy re-watching things, just go for it. Next time I do watch this though, heck, I’ll make sure to get the disk.
Overall, from the opening to the conclusion it’s quality production. Inevitably, because this movie is only 90 minutes, it might not cover entirely everything as it achieved in the Steins;Gate anime. But for what it performed, it did an amazing job. Steins;Gate: Fuka Ryouiki no Déjà vu is a very memorable movie which serves to be the absolute final to the Steins;Gate franchise.
And it’s a damn good one.
Steins;Gate:Fuka Ryouiki no Deja vu, or “The burden of Deja Vu” is the absolute ending to Steins;Gate. Need I say more? Yes? Well, let’s get into the details while avoiding as many spoilers as I can.
This movie is a sequel, after the bonus episode “Oukoubakko no Poriomania”, and it acts as a finale to the series, closing loop holes in the story that were not closed, and giving it a last bit of closure. The emotional side of the story is almost masterfully handled, with the emphasis on Okabe and Kurisu’s relationship to a pinpoint degree. I will say this though: The movie does not focus on the plot nearly as much as the character reactions, which is the strong side of Steins;Gate in the anyways. Unfortunately, that is probably the most I can say without spoiling anything in the story, as this movie is very tied to the Steins;Gate mythos.
The movie is rather short, less then 2 hours if I recall correctly, and it is a entertaining watch. However, like most anime movies based on a series, it would not hold a bucket of water if you watch it separately from the tv series, or have not read the visual novel.
Last word: Watch it if you have seen Steins;Gate. If you have not seen Steins;Gate, then go watch that so you can see this movie. You will not regret it.
Did YOUR favorite anime make the cut? Let us know in the comments below!
1. Steins;Gate Movie: Fuka Ryouiki no Déjà vu
2. Mahou Shoujo Madoka★Magica Movie 3: Hangyaku no Monogatari
3. Berserk: Ougon Jidai-hen III – Kourin
4. Kaze Tachinu
5. Kara no Kyoukai Movie: Mirai Fukuin