They’re the best Anime that 2009 has to offer! We counts down the best anime to come out this year, including the likes of Macross F Movie 1: Itsuwari no Utahime, Summer Wars, Redline, and more!
5: Macross F Movie 1: Itsuwari no Utahime
English: Macross Frontier: The False Songstress
Japanese: 劇場版 マクロスＦ 虚空歌姫 ～イツワリノウタヒメ～
MAL Score: 7.81
Half retelling of the original Frontier series, half new story. Conspiracies arise within the Frontier government when Sheryl Nome arrives to the colonial fleet for her concert and is soon marked as a spy for Galaxy while childhood friends, Alto Saotome and Ranka Lee both try to achieve their dreams as the battle between Frontier and the Vajra draws closer.
This movie serves as part one of the Frontier retelling and will conclude with the second, The Wings of Goodbye.
Macross Frontier: The False Songstress is an excellent example of bringing a two season long TV series to the movie theater. Unlike many recent TV-to-theater adaptation in which a large portion of the movie is nothing but recycled scenes from the TV original, the staffs behind this Macross movie has dedicated their time in rewriting the story, revising the character relations, composing new songs and OST, and most of all, using completely new animation and scenes on ~90% of the movie. In other words, there are no more than a couple of minutes of reused materials from the TV series in this 120 minutes movie! So don’t be fooled if you are told this movie is nothing but a retell/summary of the original because that is far from the truth.
While the movie is paced so that a first time viewer with no prior background from the TV series can still follow the story at ease, but at the same time it will not bore those who have already watched the 25 episodes original because the story is so immensely different on so many different levels. However, with that said, I personally still recommend watching the TV series first before proceeding with this movie so that one would have more time to get accustom to the terminologies in that universe (ie. Deculture!). To fully appreciate the skillful remake of the story, one would need to have a solid understanding of the original creation.
The Macross series has been well known to many as a futuristic action-packed, mecha, sci-fi space opera with a healthy dose of romance and lots of aliens in the mix. But what really make this series differ from other mecha shows are the superb songs, soundtracks, and OST. In other words, the music. Music is an integral part of each and every Macross title dating back to the first series aired in 1982. Following this old tradition, Macross Frontier and its first movie have set numerous sales records in the anime music industry. In fact, it is not an exaggeration when it claims that its success is nearly unmatched in the history of anime music industry. Many of its albums reached Oricon’s weekly chart top three positions and maintained those positions for weeks! Of course it is always possible to argue that the successes of the albums are thanks to the skillful J-pop singer, May’n and to a lesser degree, Megumi Nakajima, the winner of the “Best Musical Performance” award.
Character growth/development tends to be lacking in recent TV-to-theater adaptations and before watching it, I sincerely hoped Macross Frontier: The False Songstress will allow me to write something positive for a change in this category. Fortunately for me (and for all the viewers), the main casts are quite realistic albeit the girls seem a bit more moody than their TV counterpart. While not on the level as its music production, the main characters do show enough depth and personality to make me view them as something more than a 2D character with voice (2.5D?).
Much like the music compartment, the animation of Macross Frontier and its movie has been highly regarded as top notch in their respective category. The fluidity in mecha motions during intense battle scenes must have struck many unprepared viewers like an intense thunder. It is rare to see Cel-shaded animation used so well that they seem natural to be part of the environment. What makes the animation more praise-worthy is the fact that the studio did not neglect the other aspects of the show (ie. not just the battle looks great). Simply put, the animation is without doubt THE selling point of the show. Even if you are not interested in mecha or galactic warfare or singing diva, the animation alone is enough to persuade you that this movie is great in its own way.
This two hours long movie is certainly a thrilling ride and well worth my time. There were moments that threw me off my seat, moments that I cheered for certain heroic deeds, and a particular moment that I thought was slightly awkward. But all in all, the “pros” of this movie heavily outweigh the “cons”, or perhaps I was being a bit unreasonable with my expectations. For the action-minded, both the introduction and climatic ending will not be a disappointment. For the music-minded, there are enough new and old songs in the mix to tease you into buying the albums. For all other viewers whether you are new to the Macross franchise or a diehard fan, the combination of beautiful divas, awesome looking mecha, and a love triangle fighting to save the galaxy should be a pretty good recipe to stir up your appetite.
First off, you don’t even have to speak Japanese to tell this movie is rushed, although it’s not as much of a wreck as Unlimited Blade Works, it’s pacing is still kind of hectic, if you are going to watch this movie, whether you understand japanese or not, please watch the series first or you will be somewhat confused.
It is a remake of the series, so you will see some differences from the series, which to me are welcomed. I can’t really say much or I risk spoiling the movie.
As with most Gekijouban, Utsuwari no Utahime’s strong point is NOT the story, although the story isn’t bad, what really takes it away is the presentation. This movie is a classic example of what you can do to a masterpiece of the series when given a lot more money to do a remake. The animations and fight scenes were absolutely amazing, probably the best animations I have ever seen. They were so good, at times I just found myself just completely awed by how good it was. Everything just went so far above the series, including Sheryl’s concerts, the Frontier itself, the looks of the ships and vajra, the explosions, the macross cannon, ect.
The music was what stayed the most faithful to the series, although we get pretty much the same music maybe 1 or 2 new songs, it was not a letdown any less than the rest of the movie. Because one of the coolest things about Macross F was how they presented the animations during the music, such as concerts and ect. Well, they take it to a whole new level in this movie, what eyes can do to your music listening experience is just absolutely amazing, the director definitely knows this, and used it to their full advantage.
If I had to pick a weakness of this movie though was that there wasn’t nearly as much action as I thought there was going to be. Especially for a gekijouban of a mech series. Mech Gekijouban usually say “screw the story” and give us action every 5 seconds. There really is only action in the beginning and end of the movie, with the middle being dramatic build up and story. Which isn’t really bad, but they could have put a fight in the middle, that actually would have been pretty nice. Even if there wasn’t as much action as there could have been, the action we did get was supurb, and the story was different enough from the series to constantly keep you somewhat on edge. The story goes up to about episode 7 in the series, when the Galaxy gets attacked by the vajra, but the ending is different than what happened in the series, so look forward to that.
Character-wise, Sheryl definitely played a bigger role with the vajra than she did in the series, but Ranka hasn’t really done much in this movie. And Alto is the same Alto.
Overall, this movie was really damn good. If you are a fan of Macross F I strongly recommend you watch this whenever it’s subbed. There is definitely enough changes to keep you interested. I now can’t wait for the second movie, after watching this one, I wonder what kind of “different ending” they are going to give us, well, if anyone wants to give me a ticket to fly to Japan in February I’ll gladly accept it.
Story: This is not just the first half of the anime series squished into the time slot of a film. The first half does greatly draw from the beginning of the anime series, even down to frame-by-frame shots taken (but enhanced) from the anime. Things are also a bit out of order. For instance, Alto’s teasing and training is in the second film, even though it was in episode 3 of the anime, but film 2 is very much Alto’s story, so this makes a lot of sense. A number of small things have been removed to make the plot more fluid, and also focus on the pretty art. The second half of the film is almost entirely new story, and it’s pretty enjoyable. If you’ve seen the anime, you will probably cheer a lot during the second half of the film. It ends on a high note and a lot of good things happen.
I like a lot of the narrative decisions they made. My main quibbles are these:
1) Someone clearly thought that there was not enough fanservice and far too much manservice in the anime, and rectified this in the films. The concerts in the films are longer and more fanservicy (e.g., Sheryl is seduced by a male version of herself for one concert, wherein she wears a thong with a pom pom on the butt). It’s to the point where it’s cringe-worthy at times (although the animation is a lot better and worth seeing), but if you can get past it, it doesn’t truly ruin the story. Plus, they added a few things for the guys later on.
2) Women do not do a lot of the action in the films. In the anime, Ranka and Sheryl end up saving Alto a couple times, and Klan and Catherine are far more noticeably badass. This is almost entirely gone in the films. Almost immediately after we meet Catherine the first time, she basically faints from surprise. The films are a bit better because Ranka is a much stronger character overall in the films: she really knows what she wants and pursues it, spending a lot less time confused about what to do. The same is true for Sheryl. But it was a little worrying to see the women pushed back so much.
Art: They had a much bigger budget for the films, and it really shows. While they took a number of scenes from the show, they added a ton of new content. The concerts are quite gorgeous and the fighting scenes are pretty fun. Sheryl and Ranka get a lot of neat outfits to wear and the overall look of the film is much more refined and gorgeous.
Sound: Honestly, I enjoyed the music from the anime a lot better. It’s still great in the films, most likely because they reused a number of songs from the show, and I hear that a lot of people like the film versions more, but I just didn’t hear anything that really stood out to me. I paid more attention to the narrative changes and art. That being said, if you have not taken the time to check out the soundtrack for this franchise, please do so. It’s worth the time.
Character: A lot of character revamps occurred for the films. Ranka and Alto are friends before the narrative even starts, which removes some of the contrived meetings and better explains why they’re texting and seeing each other so much. Brera is also introduced almost from the beginning, which better explains his story. It’s stuff like that which was changed to just remove a lot of the clutter, give more reasons for cast members to be involved in the plot, and allow more focus for the central plot.
I liked a lot of the changes they made. Sheryl and Alto get to hang out more (this is very much a film series for SherylxAlto fans, since they do a lot of cutesy stuff). Brera’s character was also re-done very well, and his relationship with Alto is a let better: less of a testosterone-fueled conflict over Ranka, and more of one of camaraderie. One of the best changes by far for the films is the revamp of Grace’s character. Her story in the anime feels so contrived and silly. In the films, you actually like her, and her relationship with Sheryl is incredibly sweet. Yet she’s still a beautiful, intelligent, powerful badass.
Enjoyment: There are some things that are missing from the beginning of the anime that I am sad to see gone, and I did not like seeing the ridiculous amount of fanservice, but overall, I liked this film a lot and I like this narrative a lot more than the first half of the anime. On its own, it’s very enjoyable and beautiful. It’s definitely worth a watch (along with its sequel), especially if you’re a fan of the anime.
4: Summer Wars
English: Summer Wars
MAL Score: 8.07
OZ, a virtual world connected to the internet, has become extremely popular worldwide as a spot for people to engage in a large variety of activities, such as playing sports or shopping, through avatars created and customized by the user. OZ also possesses a near impenetrable security due to its strong encryption, ensuring that any personal data transmitted through the networks will be kept safe in order to protect those who use it. Because of its convenient applications, the majority of society has become highly dependent on the simulated reality, even going as far as entrusting the system with bringing back the unmanned asteroid explorer, Arawashi.
Kenji Koiso is a 17-year-old math genius and part-time OZ moderator who is invited by his crush Natsuki Shinohara on a summer trip. But unbeknownst to him, this adventure requires him to act as her fiancé. Shortly after arriving at Natsuki’s family’s estate, which is preparing for her great-grandmother’s 90th birthday, he receives a strange, coded message on his cell phone from an unknown sender who challenges him to solve it. Kenji is able to crack the code, but little does he know that his math expertise has just put Earth in great danger.
Now those of you who have watched the latest anime incarnation of Toki wo Kakeru Shoujo (The Girl who Leapt Through Time), will be familiar with Hosoda’s work as a director, and as good as that movie is, his latest effort, Summer Wars, would have been at least equal to it except for one thing.
It’s been done before.
The story follows the brief summer “holiday” of a high school maths prodigy called Koiso Kenji as he travels to the countryside with his senpai (and secret crush), Shinohara Natsuki, ostensibly to celebrate her grandmother’s 90th birthday. During his stay he receives a strange e-mail containing a sequence of numbers, and thinking it simply another maths problem, he solves it and sends it back. The following day all hell breaks loose (but in a quaint manner, this is rural Japan after all).
Summer Wars has a lot to recommend it in terms of its plot and story. The pacing and progression is very good, and the numerous events that take place are justifiable to a certain degree. It’s just unfortunate that while watching Summer Wars, I couldn’t help but think of a certain 1983 movie called War Games.
If one disregards the settings in the real and virtual worlds for a moment, then what’s left, ironically enough, is a high school kid who unwittingly begins the end of the world through something nuclear, and all because he broke a code. It’s even more ironic that the computer in War Games was developed from a simple Tic-Tac-Toe playing AI, and that it believes it is simply playing another “game” (if you can call global thermo-nuclear war a game that is).
Even with the parallels between the two films, Summer Wars is a good enough story in its own right, and like War Games, is very much a movie of its time. The use of online social networking is something that only a few shows have touched upon, and even though the application of it is somewhat unbelievable (everything from traffic management to emergency services is part of the OZ network), it’s a purposeful device that makes the story much more relevant to this day and age, and it doesn’t really impinge on one’s enjoyment of the movie.
Summer Wars is distinctive in its looks, regardless of which world is on screen at the time. The settings, backgrounds and characters are very similar to those used in Toki wo Kakeru Shoujo, but there is far more creativity and diversity in the design of this movie, an example of which is skin tone, with several characters being tanned to various degrees. Alongside this is the look of the characters themselves, and it’s truly nice to watch a show that takes a more realistic approach in this area. The people in the movie literally do come in all shapes and sizes, with no two characters (in the real world), sharing anything more than the resemblance that close relatives would have.
The one aspect of the design that is surprising is that of the virtual world, but not in the way that most people would think. The CG used in the movie is extremely well handled, and each avatar is completely unique, yet also reflective its real world user. That said, those who have seen another of Hosoda’s directorial works, Superflat Monogram, may experience some bemusement as the design of Summer War’s virtual world has been adapted from that featurette. While the art and animation are very good throughout the movie, it would have been nice if Madhouse had avoided cutting corners by using things that have been done before, but that’s just a personal preference. As far as the virtual world goes, the majority of viewers will find it inventive, original, and more than a little amusing at times.
A big plus for the movie is its cast, and although most are relatively unknown (including the two leads), this doesn’t preclude them from providing some very good performances. Kamiki Ryonosuke is very good as the bumbling, introverted and ever so slightly love-struck Kenji, while Sakuraba Nanami provides an excellent balance to this as the spirited and precocious Natsuki. One of the biggest surprises in terms of acting though, is Tanimura Mitsuki, whose portrayal of Kazuma has all the foibles and gripes one would expect from a 13 year old with a game addiction.
In terms of music, the various pieces on offer serve the movie very well, and Matsumoto Akihiko (who also provided the music for Resident Evil Outbreak: Files 1 & 2), really shows his talent as both a writer and composer. Strangely, the ending theme, Bokura no Natsu no Yume, is the only track composed by someone else (in this case by Yamashita Tatsuro), and is actually a rather appropriate lilting ballad that rounds things of nicely.
So where are the problems with the sound? In truth, the majority of issues stem from the effects as there are several notable occasions where the music, speech and effects clash quite badly. The majority of the movie is relatively well choreographed so that the noise is kept to a manageable level, but this is not always the case, and when events get out of hand, the effect on one’s ears can be a little tough.
The one area where Summer Wars really excels is in its wealth of characters. While most of the focus is on Kenji, a good amount of time is spent observing Natsuki’s extended family, and it’s this aspect of the movie that makes it such an enjoyable film to watch. Anyone with slightly dysfunctional relatives will appreciate the numerous minor clashes, feuds, loyalties, gripes, trials and tribulations that go into making any such gatherings a “success”, and it was an absolute joy to see Natsuki’s family bounce off each other like peas on a drum (which probably makes this required viewing at Christmas time). The entire family structure and their relationships with each other are handled in a very intelligent manner, and viewers may be surprised to find themselves relating to certain situations, and finding a degree of familiarity with certain events in the story.
As far as actual development goes, there isn’t really any aside from Kenji, and even that takes time to progress (although he does “man-up” in the end). Aside from that, there isn’t much in the plot that encourages the rest of the characters to grow, but then again, each is an individual to a tee, and therein lies the true strength of this movie – characterisation. It’s the power of their personalities (thanks to some great acting and scripting), that allows the viewer to relate to the characters in a way that many other shows would envy, and it’s for this reason that development isn’t really a necessity.
Summer Wars is a very enjoyable romp in the realms of absurdity that has the benefit of being relevant to a degree. The exponential growth of social networks is having an increasing impact on society, and it’s this phenomenon that is satirised the most, hence the inclusion of so many societal controls and services within the confines of OZ. While the story itself may not be new, one could consider this a more up to date re-telling of the theme – kind of a “War Games 2009” so to speak.
Whatever you think of the movie, at heart it’s only meant to do one thing – entertain – and it does that very well.
The film opens with an introduction to ‘OZ’. An information network that controls and monitors electronic services all over the world: from shopping to competitive gaming to healthcare facilities. Think the current internet age, but even more extreme.
Then we’re introduced to Kenji, a math wiz who works as a moderator for Oz and has a crush on a girl named Natsuki. A few moments later we’re introduced to this crush of his who begs him to come with her to visit her family’s summer home. Thus kicking off the plot.
Well not quite. Turns out Natsuki has a huge family and the film takes its sweet time introducing them one by one thus establishing some characters and relationships. If you can’t quite tell who’s who by the end of all the introductions you needn’t worry. The characters who end up mattering can be counted on one hand.
All the setup eventually builds up to the following: Kenji, during his stay with Natsuki’s family, is tricked into giving a dangerous computer virus access to OZ. Said virus wrecks havoc over the entire digital world causing all sorts of trouble to pop up in the real one. Now Kenji must work together with Natsuki’s family (the 2 or 3 that matter at least) to save two worlds from imminent disaster (because the authorities don’t matter).
Thus the whole story unfolds in typical blockbuster fashion: (cyber)-battles will be fought, old grievances will be reconciled and boys will turn into men.
So the end result is a movie that wants to be a sci-fi action blockbuster AND a family drama AND a romance story. Problem is that none of the elements are particularly good in their own right.
– It fails as a romance story because the whole plotline is trite and forced. The lovebirds-to-be are complete anime-stereotypes (nerdy nice guy and cheerful nice girl) who lack any kind of believable chemistry. Initially the whole thing just feels like a plot-device to set the plot in motion. Then the middle act all but drops it. Finally, the end of the film also concludes the love story in the cheesiest way imaginable. That wouldn’t have been so bad in and of itself but it doesn’t feel believable. The 2 characters in question aren’t shown growing towards one another and learning to understand each other better. They just love each other when the plot needs them to.
– It fails as a family drama because an overwhelming majority of the characters is painfully one-dimensional. They’re just caricatures who stand in the background and occasionally showcase their one personality quirk. The few who don’t fall victim to this aren’t particularly interesting either, and are often no more than devices to shove the aforementioned crappy love-story in certain directions. The only somewhat interesting element in this plot-thread is a subplot dealing with a bastard-child who was branded an outcast of the family; but this thread is ultimately resolved in a sentimental manner.
– It fails as an action-packed blockbuster because most of the fights aren’t very interesting. The idea of having avatars do battle against a computer virus within Oz allowed for the makers to go crazy, and there are 2 or 3 spots where some creativity is showcased in regards to having fighters transform the arena to better suit their purposed. But as it goes on any semblance of choreography or creativity is thrown out of the window in favor or giant punches fuelled by the power of love and friendship. It’s sad that the best choreographed fight is a short demonstration early on in the film. Summer Wars sadly fails to avoid the usual anime-cliché where fights get less creative when the power-levels are increased.
So there you have it: 3 poorly executed and fundamentally flawed storylines that merge into one to create an unfocused and ultimately unsatisfying viewing experience.
Summer Wars was directed by Mamoru Hosoda, who previously directed the acclaimed ‘The Girl Who Leapt Through Time’. The irony here is that the two movies are almost polar opposites from an artistic standpoint.
– One tries to be a blend of many different popular anime-trappings and ends up unfocused and messy. The other has a very focused and well-thought out narrative that fully explores all the possibilities of its scenario.
– One features a huge cast of characters with no real standouts, the other features only a handful of characters most of which are (somewhat) realistic, well-developed and humanly flawed.
– One has a gimmick that ultimately serves as either window-dressing or a cheap way to create tension in the plot. The other has a gimmick that contributes the narrative in a meaningful way as an interesting dynamic.
In the end ‘Summer Wars’ failed to impress me. It tried to combine all kinds of different flavors only to end up with a product that doesn’t have any kind of flavor to it, much less one to call its own. It’s not a bad movie. The animation, especially in OZ, is wonderful (though the designs of the human characters are a little basic), the soundtrack is adequate and there are a few entertaining moments but after all the hype I excepted much more.
– Want an interesting love-story with a cool twist? Check the aforementioned ‘’The Girl Who Leapt Through Time’’. Same director, much better movie.
– Want a good story that explores familiar relationships? ‘’Haibane Renmei’’ features a surrogate family of sorts. Wonderful drama filled with realistic, richly-drawn characters and a captivating atmosphere.
– Want a cool science fiction story where a bunch of kids use strange technology in all sorts of imaginative and fun ways? Check out ‘’Dennou Coil’’. Same studio, similar concepts but explored in much more detail and with better characters to boot.
Kenji Koiso is a high school student/math genius who works part-time with his best friend, Takashi Sakuma as moderators for the massive, widely popular virtual world called OZ, where the norm consists of virtual shopping, business, and much more (Second Life, anyone?). One summer Natsuki Shinohara, Kenji’s senpai (who he also has a crush on) invites him to her grandmother’s 90th birthday celebration in the Jinnouchi clan estate. But Kenji is immediately caught up in Natsuki’s desperate request to act as Natsuki’s husband-to-be, much to his chagrin.
Kenji spends the initial parts of the movie getting acquainted with the rest of Natsuki’s relatives, and receives a mysterious email soon after. The message contains a huge numerical code, and, being a math whiz, Kenji opted to crack the code right away; he does so overnight. But as soon as he sends the solution, a virus – named Love Machine – successfully hacks within the OZ mainframe and causes turmoil in many parts of the world. As Kenji is deemed the culprit, it is up to him and his newfound family to solve the problem before more lives are put in danger. So, this is basically Digimon: The Movie adapted to a newer version, minus all the ‘mons making up that particular movie. While that thought might pull you away for whatever reason you might bear, Summer Wars’ narrative is more than just games and cyberspace. This movie touches on important themes, with family being one of its central points.
Okay, I lied. This movie IS all about games and cyberspace. For as much of a silly thing it is to base your movie on the inner workings of the Internet and social networking, it actually makes you feel weirdly sympathetic for those things. Perhaps Summer Wars teaches and/or reminds us that family can stretch beyond bloodlines, and we all can potentially build unbreakable bonds with total strangers even across the entire world, both real and virtual. Also, when it may seem that all the chips are down, there’s always hope, and it’s a hope we could always hold on to.
While the story’s great and all, Summer Wars would probably be nothing without its outstanding cast of characters. Stretching from the shy, introverted Kenji to the rest of Natsuki’s spunky, quirky, and empathetic family members, it truly feels like watching an ensemble cast bring their A-game to the table. Though it’s a lot of characters to take in immediately, seeing them once or twice is enough to make you remember them. Hell, I only remember a few names out of all the characters introduced, to be honest. There is a good mix of funny and sincere banter in-between, which really makes each character’s presence seem imperative and convince you to care about them. The main characters as well as the supporting ones play integral roles in bringing Love Machine down, and the movie does a good job making their strengths shine through.
But I think the best character out of all–and I think everyone is in unison on this–is Sakae Jinnouchi, Natsuki’s grandmother. Despite having minimal knowledge of the virtual world, she’s pretty much the one inspiring everyone to fight the infection and teach them the value of what family is. I also think it’s her courage and pretty much her overall personality that drives the story forward, as well as motivate the characters to do what they must.
Summer Wars is perhaps one of the best examples of an ambitious visual splendor, animated or not. The production values are all top-notch, with the near-perfect blend of CGI and cel-shaded effects bringing a lot of vibrancy to the movie’s cyberspace environment, the real world, and astounding attention to detail. Just thinking about the unimaginable number of sprites and avatars interacting in the entire virtual space is just insanity, and shows how much incredible amount of work was done to make this visual masterpiece happen. The animation style is no pushover either, as it is both breathtaking and awe-inspiring. Action scenes are all incredibly exciting, intense, and amazingly crafted that kept me at the edge of my seat for most of the movie. Character designs are also sharp and well-designed that all the more makes this one of the most magnificent-looking animated movies I’ve seen in a long while.
I don’t usually pay attention to movie soundtracks that much, mainly because most of them are so forgettable and barely intriguing; Summer Wars’s musical score is an exception. Top that with an excellent Japanese voice cast that brings much needed emotion and invokes life through the characters they play. I haven’t heard the English dub of the movie yet, but after seeing this movie, I’d be glad to that version when I finally get the chance to, all while reliving this grand adventure again a second time. Hell, I wouldn’t mind seeing it for a third go. Or a fourth. Who can blame me, really?
Summer Wars is definitely one of the best anime movies I’ve seen in years. It’s as enjoyable of a watch as it occasionally tugs on the heartstrings. It’s a good reminder that there actually IS something to feel positive about being in the Internet. For all its eye-popping, superb visual presentation, it’s also got a well-written, thematic, feel-good storyline and a fantastic cast of characters that will surely please the audiences both inside and outside of the anime realm. In short, if you haven’t seen this movie yet, you’re missing out on something special.
MAL Score: 8.29
Every five years, an exhilarating race called Redline is held, and the universe’s most anticipated competition has only one rule: that there are none. Racers are pushed to their absolute limit—a feeling that daredevil driver JP knows all too well. Having just qualified to participate in Redline, he is eager to battle against the other highly skilled drivers, particularly the beautiful rising star and the only other human that qualified, Sonoshee McLaren.
But this year’s Redline may be far more dangerous than usual—it has been announced to take place on the planet Roboworld with its trigger-happy military and criminals who look to turn the race to their own advantage. However, the potential danger doesn’t stop the racers; in fact, it only adds to the thrill. Relying solely on his vehicle’s speed, JP prepares for the event to come, aiming to take first place in the biggest race of his life.
As a film about racing, the plot is fairly standard fare, but the larger than life presentation coupled with the sheer imagination and creativity that has gone into Redline is second to none. The story – despite cliches – is both exhilarating and incredibly well paced. The action is, as you would imagine; fast, fantastic and full of adrenaline. The drama is at times cheesy, but it fits well with the films over-the-top attitude. The crazy antics in Redline make it clear the film isn’t to be taken too seriously; it isn’t a production that sets out to challenge our minds, but rather an exhilarating thrill-ride that’s sole purpose is to entertain. In that respect, the story delivers and then some.
The tagline for Redline during its release was ‘Witness the Future of Animation’ and it’s safe to say the studio never doubted the creativity of the team behind the film. Madhouse handled the production, with second key animation from Gainax – the films full development totaled seven years, with over one hundred thousand hand-made drawings. The amount of action and detail on screen at any one time is so vast the film begs for repeat viewings. The animation – in a word – is mind-blowing. The film is full of colour, detail and beauty like no other, the art style is vigorous and unique, and the character designs are fresh, exuberant and interesting.
The music – chiefly a variety of electronic compositions – is sublime. It blends seamlessly with Redline’s fast-paced visuals, the sound editing is first-rate and the vocal tracks leave warm, fuzzy feelings – especially the ending song. The vocal talent is superb and particularly noteworthy; the film employs actors rather than seiyu in the leading roles. The leading man – JP – is voiced by Takuya Kimura, a member of the pop group SMAP and veteran actor who starred in Yoji Yamada’s The Hidden Blade, part of the directors Oscar nominated samurai trilogy. The leading lady – Sonoshee – is portrayed by none other than Yu Aoi; an actress with many award-winning films under her belt, multiple of which were directed by national treasure and acclaimed auteur Shunji Iwai. Lastly, JP’s right-hand man Frisbee is handled by Tadanobu Asano, one of few Japanese actors making a name for himself in Hollywood (recently he starred in Marvel’s Thor). To quote journalist Helen McCarthy; “casting him was a stroke of genius.”
The main characters all very much fit into conventional archetypes, but they’re not made to be complex, deep, thoughtful beings. The characters, like the story and presentation, are themselves larger than life, quite literally. JP and Sonoshee alone make up about half the human population in the entire film; all of the other characters belong to their respective alien races, besides two other humans. The characters are written to be entertaining, to build the scale of the film and to perform as the archetypes we know and love, but that’s not to say they’re by any means flat; the main characters receive a sufficient amount of development, and the supporting cast is comprised of an exceedingly rich, varied, exciting and incredibly fun horde of wonderful characters.
Redline is a film not to be taken too seriously and anyone doing so has certainly missed the point. Needless to say, if you want a realistic racing film then you have come to the wrong place. However, if you want a fast, funny, eye-watering, explosive experience that will suck you into a world which words barely do justice, this is the film you’re after. But, more than a film, Redline is an experience. Every element works in melody, bouncing off and complementing one another, ultimately creating a tremendous overall work that is magical to behold, completely unlike any other anime production to date.
The first 10 minutes do an excellent job of letting viewers know what’s in store for them. It’s here that the film treats us to an intense and gorgeously animated race sequence and equally beautiful backgrounds and character models. From there on out it’s clear that the films intent is to overwhelm the viewer with adrenaline-filled races brought to life with mouth-watering animation and sound. Storyline and character development are of the lowest priority.
It’s no surprise, then, that Redline sticks closely to the usual 3 act structure. We’re first given a taste of things to come while the personalities and motivations of the major players are established, topped off with introducing the long term goal. The second act is all about the preparation with some rudimentary attempts at character development while act 3 is the main attraction: a 40-minute onslaught of non-stop racing packed with over-the-top, high speed moments and more explosions than 3 Michael Bay films put together.
Sounds good on paper. But Redline goes so overboard with its spectacle that it somehow becomes a bit dull. It’s simply too much.
First off, there are too many characters. The main characters are pretty forgettable and the only contestant who was somewhat cool was the established champion. The film further hurts itself by introducing subplots and characters who aren’t related to the race. A sizable chunk of screentime is reserved for a b-story involving an evil government (basically space-China) that’s out to stop the race and dig up some ancient weapons or something. Ultimately they’re only there to cause tons of explosions and other kinds of destruction. This in a film that’s already filled to the brim with explosions and spectacular set pieces.
This is Redline’s second excess. There is simply too much going on in the third act. A big race alone would have made for a wonderfully thrilling climax but Redline throws in an obligatory mafia subplot as well as the aforementioned evil government. What it all leads to? Stuff getting blown up and more stuff getting blown up.
This wouldn’t have been so bad if there was a reason to care or even some sense of urgency but there isn’t. All the cars race at impossible speeds and run just fine even after taking enough damage to wreck 10 spaceships. The result is that tension is basically nonexistent in this film. Nobody of note dies and damage to the vehicle is shrugged off so easily that one gets the feeling the only thing at stake is the film’s running time.
It’s a real pity seeing as the film is brilliantly animated and incredibly stylish. The film had a production history of 7 long years and you can tell when watching it that all that time was well spent in honing the stunning visuals to perfection. It’s no exaggeration that this is a new benchmark in terms of pure animation. The film’s many characters have detailed, instantly distinguishable models and are fluidly animated, machines roar and rush over surfaces with incredible speed and there’s even the occasional use of deformed animation for stylish effect that’s very effective. The visuals in Redline are a labor of love and the best part is that it overwhelms the senses in a way that seems difficult (perhaps impossible) to replicate in another medium.
In the end, that makes it all the more tragic that these gorgeous visuals aren’t telling a story worth caring about. Worse yet, its main hook (the visuals) simply can’t be used to carry a 100-minute feature film. Some serious editing could have reduced it to have its length and it would’ve made for a better-flowing and much more enjoyable viewing experience.
As it is, Redline is a stunningly animated but overlong film with such incompetent storytelling that it cannot reach its full potential. One can only hope that first-time director Takashi Koike’s next project will be a lot more polished. As it is, the talent is there. It simply needs to be honed and guided properly.
Now in when it comes of the plot of Redline it is short, sweet and straight to the point. The film follows our main character JP, a driver who wants to race in a tournament called Redline which is held every five years. However he fails to qualify for it and just when he believes his dream is over, by chance two people drop out of the tournament which gives him a qualifying place.
It has been mentioned by critics and viewers, that Redline lacks a plot or that the story comes across as lackluster and while I can understand that point of the argument I can also argue against it. The film has enough of a plot to work in cohesiveness with the rest of the film and while it’s not overly complex or thought-provoking it doesn’t have to be. I would like to think of it this way: Would your rather watch film with an overly drawn out plot and character development which could be potentially tedious and slow down the fast-paced nature of the film? Or would you want to watch a film with a condensed plot that has enough story and personality to make you care about what you are watching? Personally I prefer the latter.
When it comes to the visual presentation of Redline, words fail me. I mean seriously, no words can truly say how beautiful this film really is. Japanese animation studio Madhouse have crafted one of the most visually stunning animated films in existence, you really have to see it in action to comprehend its awesomeness. Firstly there’s the character design, from the human-based characters to all of the other alien races and cybernetic beings that reside within Redline’s world, the designs are diverse, unique and interesting. Secondly you have the vehicles which are also fabulous, coming in many different shapes and sizes, from simple to completely crazy designs, with individual quirks and weapon arsenals to be admired. And lastly there’s the locations of the film that vary from the rocky crayons where races are done to spaceships floating above planets, all of which have an incredible amount of detail that draws your eyes in especially on a large cinema screen.
But I feel that the main aspect that makes Redline so great is the fluidity of the animation. The quality of the animation in this film is actually insane, with several sequences of high-octane action crafted with some beautiful choreography, nicely placed camera angles and great use of speed. Everything moves in such a smooth manner, with no moments of slowdown or inconsistencies whatsoever. The film delivers an experience like no other in the animation department and really conveys on the concept of speed, pushing you to edge of your seat and beyond.
But what is a film without a good soundtrack? Luckily Redline happens to have a brilliant soundtrack crafted by James Shimoji, which compliments the visuals wonderfully. The soundtrack is mainly composed of techno-based music, but it works well with the action on-screen, its explosive, fast-paced and it sounds so good! Also personally I felt that Redline’s soundtrack really reminded me of the video-games F-Zero GX and Tatsunoko Vs. Capcom, both of which have great soundtracks with explosive music that sounds great on the highest volume level. I also have to note that the sound editing in this film is tackled perfectly as well.
In terms of the enjoyment of Redline, I say be prepared to fall in love with this film. After watching the trailers for this film you get a rough idea as to what you will be watching, however those trailers cannot prepare you for the whole film. As a lot of people know this genre of film has been done before, after all Redline is a film about guys, girls and cars. But what Redline as film does well is give us a familiar format to work with, but it’s covered in such an innovative, stylised and charismatic fashion that you will be left in awe after you see it. Also throughout all of the chaos and mind-blowing visuals, Redline never feels like it’s heading into unnatural territory, in fact a lot of aspects about Redline feel realistic and believable.
Overall Redline is an experience that I feel everyone should enjoy. It’s a like a rush of energy that’s exhilarating, fast-paced and unforgettable. Takeshi Koike, Redline’s director should feel very happy about the film that he has crafted and considering his previous work before coming onto this project I’m not surprised that this film turned out to be a success. Again I feel the need to mention Madhouse’s insane skills as an animation studio as they have created a film full of action, charisma and style unlike any other film. There are so many individual things about the film that’s weird and wonderful and completely unexpected, but overall I say watch this film and experience the epicness that is Redline!
2: Evangelion: 2.0 You Can (Not) Advance
English: Evangelion: 2.0 You Can (Not) Advance
MAL Score: 8.34
When the threat of the Angel menace escalates, mankind’s defense force is pushed to its limits, with Nerv at the forefront of the struggle. Shinji Ikari and his partner Rei Ayanami are assisted by two new pilots: the fiery Asuka Langley Shikinami and the mysterious Mari Illustrious Makinami.
With the aid of their mechanized Evangelion units, equipped with weapons perfect for engaging their monstrous opponents, the four young souls fight desperately to protect their loved ones and prevent an impending apocalypse. But when startling secrets are brought to light, will the heroes’ greatest challenge prove to be the monsters…or humanity itself?
While the first Rebuild of Evangelion movie followed the series closely, events are drastically changed in 2.0. The plot vaguely follows episodes 8 to 19 of the series (and picks up from where the first Rebuild movie left off), but it’s during this film that the ‘remake’ starts becoming the ‘reimagining’ Anno said the Rebuild tetralogy would be. A treat for fans new and old, the new canon material does not disappoint. Twists and turns – as expected – are ever present, new characters enter the fray and the plot takes fresh, astonishing directions while retaining its mysterious, engrossing aura. The pace is near flawless and both veteran fans and new audiences alike will be able to watch with wide-eyed excitement and suspense as the new plot unravels.
The animation and art are one of the absolute stand-out elements in Evangelion 2.0. As in the first film, the Angels have been given a make-over, along with the Evangelion units, the futuristic, ever wondrous city Tokyo-3 and even the characters. Between them, the animation staff for the Rebuild tetralogy have worked on a huge number of highly acclaimed works, which includes the original Evangelion series. The team create an alarmingly beautiful world among all the chaos and destruction, with such intricate attention to detail, stunningly complex designs and action set pieces unlike anything before it. The art style is bold, clean and dazzling, and the animation is dynamic, majestic, smooth and ever fluid. Studio Khara have set a frighteningly faultless example to other animation studios – they’ve outdone themselves.
The music was composed and arranged by Shiro Sagisu – who scored not only the first Rebuild film, but also the original series and The End of Evangelion – and recorded at the famous Abbey Road Studios with the London Studio Orchestra. Music has always been a very innate part of Evangelion; as integral as the Evangelion units themselves, and it’s no different in Rebuild. Sagisu creates a fine amount of stunning compositions that further bring to life Tokyo-3, the characters and the phenomenal action sequences. Rebuild 2.0 even has it’s own ‘Komm, süsser Tod’ moment where an upbeat song is played in contrast to a brutal sequence, with the lyrics adding a welcomed sense of irony, which is what we’ve come to expect and delight over from the Evangelion franchise. The ending song is provided by Japanese sensation Utada Hikaru, who offers a beautiful acoustic rendition of her famous track ‘Beautiful World’, a perfect companion piece to the ending, again in contrast.
Rebuild 2.0 excels in its characterisation. The charismatic Asuka is introduced, who adds a whole different vibe to the film and there is yet more original material for fans of the series, as established characters such as Shinji and Rei develop significantly, the latter in directions you may not expect. A completely new character – Mari – also joins the fray. Much of her motivations are shrouded in mystery, which allows the film to stay at a consistent pace and prevents it from becoming bloated, considering the amount of characters and plot developments already at hand, but her presence adds yet another exciting new element, along with some comic relief. Despite a cast of characters that were established almost fifteen years ago, they come across in Rebuild as very fresh, very unpredictable. These aren’t the same characters from the Evangelion series, they’re new interpretations, new versions; with a clean slate comes new directions, new experiences – in areas the film becomes as fresh to long-time fans as it is to new audiences.
Rebuild of Evangelion 2.0 is an absolute spectacle, as astonishing to the eyes as it is the ears. The second film is able to out-do the first installment in every aspect, all the while taking the story in thrilling new directions for fans both new and old. A remake would have been too easy for Anno and his team – instead they have gone above and beyond, recreating the Evangelion universe we’ve come to know and love, offering us new interpretations fifteen years on, proving – with some ferocity – that Evangelion is far from gone. Rebuild solidifies Evangelion as an absolutely exceptional franchise, continuing to awe-inspire fans the world over, reminding us all why we fell in love with it in the first place.
There never was an anime series in my entire life as an anime-consumer that moved, influenced and fascinated me as much as Hideaki Anno’s original NGE series. I can not describe every single detail about the original series’ ingenuity for it would take too much space in these few lines (since this is a review about the second rebuild film). Let’s just say that I have never encountered another anime series with more finely written, intelligent, charismatic, understandable and individual (probably the most important characteristic considering the whole bunch of archetypes today) characters combined with an exciting and cleverly told plot and a superb atmosphere from which we can learn a message that is important in all periods of our lives.
When I first heard about Anno and the old crew directing a series of Rebuild movies, I didn’t really know what to say. He said that the old NGE series was not fit for newer generations and that he would have to update it for them. He probably meant problems that emerged in society nowadays, so I trusted him. I was quite happy after watching the first movie that stuck pretty much to the original first quarter of the series and was looking forward to the second movie which should integrate new elements (although I was REALLY afraid of that new character wearing a pink (!) plugsuit). Then I saw the ratings on MAL and my excitement grew. What did they change? The answer: everything.
– The Characters:
In general, we can say that every fascinating character from the original series just turned into some kind of stereotypical alternative version. There is not a single trace left of what once was a psychological profile given to them. Not only did they simplify the characters, but also gave away their backgroundstories in some kind of ‘in-your-face!’ manner, so that subtlety became a foreign word. Of course, you may say, this is a movie and you can not rebuild complex characters within such little screen time. It’s not like they do not get any screentime in the movie, there’s plenty of it around, but the creators don’t use it at all (except for dull slice of life sequences and ecchi fanservice)!
I’d like to take a look at the changes from the original series and analyze what the new character’s personality is like, so as for people who haven’t watched the thing yet I’ll write down a
here, so I can go into detail:
Original: Lost boy who gains some confidence while working for NERV but always feels left alone, feels rejected by everyone, trying to find a personality on his own, craving for affection from anyone —– 2.22 Version: your typical shounen hero and also a harem lord
‘I wonder who of my love interests can cook better?’
Asuka Soryu Langley:
Original: Lost girl who strives for affection from anyone by any means necessary, is still haunted by past, inferiority complex —– 2.22 Version: Violent tsundere archetype randomly in love with the harem lord while being exploited for lots of fan-service:
(oh yeah, and she’s talking to a sock puppet, now THAT’s subtle)
Original: Scientific abuse incarnate, an artificial lifeform that is torn between substitutability and development of personal feelings towards society and her creator —— 2.22 Version: Kuudere archetype who discovers her random love for the harem hero
‘Whenever I think about him, my chest feels warm…’
Original: Being left alone by her father’s death, she has to encounter a harsh world after the second impact and makes her way to the top with discipline, although she hides an easy-going side inside which she only shows to people dear to her, craving for affection from anyone —— 2.22 Version: Supporting cast who’s just there to tell you EVERYTHING you need to know about the EVA mystery ‘in-your-face!’-esque. Misato’s fate is shared by every other character in this movie (except for Kaji, he’s there to make you laugh with silly attempts to speak the english language, best scene in the whole movie), so I spare you the ranting here.
and finally, my ‘favourite’ ‘character’ from this ‘movie’ (ok, that last quotation mark was just for fun)
Mari Makinami Illustrious (yeah, that’s her name, folks, I didn’t know it either, but I read it on the package of the DVD after watching the movie):
well, Mari, she… she’s… yeah, she has a nice rack… and… aaannnd… she wears glasses and… a pink plugsuit… and she is the most UNFITTING ‘CHARACTER’ FOR THE BLOODY DAMN NEON GENESIS EVANGELION FRANCHISE!!!!!
Ahem, sorry for that, but it’s true, a ‘character’ who’s there for the whole purpose of fanservice and hollywood action scenes has nothing to do with the (let’s say) ‘realistic’ world of Evangelion. She’s even enjoying the EVA fights, what’s this?! they always depicted the war against the angels as a terrible burden for the youngsters (which it IS) and she’s enjoying it?! And what about that parachute, ahh, nevermind, let’s go on…-.-
[END OF SPOILERS]
– The Story:
Now, what I can say about the story in general is that they really tried to create something different and the way the movie ends, it really is possible they are going to change it into something else. But this doesn’t mean it’s going to be good, really.
The whole purpose of the background story in the original series was to be discovered by the audience bit by bit so that they could put all the pieces of the puzzle together and create their own interpretation of what’s happening. Now, Hideaki Anno assumes that kids these days don’t use their brains anymore so he presents the story with every bit and every little mystery directly in your face. You do not need to think about it, the characters will tell you everything you need to know. This simplification destroys everything the smartly presented plot of the original show stood for.
– The Design:
This is the most surprising thing about the whole movie. People tell me everywhere how great this thing looks and how smooth the 3D animations blend in. But you know what? It is not true, it’s simply not true! The 3D evangelions look like ingame graphics from a poorly programmed ps3 game. Not only do the ‘great’ 3D effects make EVA02 blend in like Krauser II on a K-On concert, they also allow us to discover silly programming mistakes like transparent school desks (if you don’t believe me, take a look at shinji’s classroom). And for the design changes… sheesh, you shall see yourself… (‘Test-Plugsuit’ and ‘Za biisuto’ eh, gosh…-.-)
Of course the drawings and character designs are ok, it’s Yoshiyuki Sadamoto, the original designer, after all (he tends to go for the ‘one piece’ hip, but that’s ok here).
– The Final Conclusion:
I am absolutely sad to say it, but ‘Evangelion 2.22: You can (not) advance’ is one of the worst pieces of celluloid anime movies I have ever seen, considering its predecessors. There is not a single shred of intelligence left in this bleak version of a once brilliant series. I trusted Hideaki Anno and his nakama, for I thought they were some of the few people left in the business taking their job seriously and trying to really give something to the audience instead of just taking their money for cheap entertainment. But that’s what happened and that’s what Evangelion 2.22 is, cheap entertainment. I still can’t really believe it.
And what’s even more important: What’s up with all the people who love this movie and call it masterpiece? I really could understand it if there are people who don’t know or don’t care about the original work (archetypes substituting real characters is common today) or watched it for tits, they will have their cheap thrills with the hollywood action and the countless fanservice ecchi moments and maybe really like it as the Gurren Lagann it wants to be (hey, GL is great, but NOT NGE!). But for the Neon Genesis Evangelion fans who loved the series for everything it stood for, all the attributes I mentioned before, everything that EVA 2.22 destroyed and spat upon, I do not understand them at all…-.-
Oh yeah, and here’s a little speculation to round out the review that requires a
Just a little conspiracy theory, my only hope that keeps me from screaming ‘zetsubou shita!’:
All of this ridiculous nonsense could just be Shinji’s first attempt of creating a new world, but based on his teenage dreams and thus filled with bullshit teenagers might find interesting and kakkoii. As a conclusion Hideaki Anno once again could draw the ace up his sleeve here and say: “This is nothing but fantasy bullshit, it doesn’t have anything to do with reality! Get a life, kids!” kinda like he did in the original series. That wouldn’t really make this movie much better, but it would not kill the whole franchise.
Until the next movie comes out, I’ll just pray every night that “sabisu sabisu~” was just an ironic hint to that outcome!
[END OF SPOILERS]
Thanks for reading
A lot of the visuals were eye popping stunning. However, there were times that it looked a bit grainy, kind of like an image that had been upscaled. The music was a bit hit or miss, with some corny music playing at seemingly inappropriate times. But when it was hit, it was really good, especially the music that played at the end of the Bardiel and Zeruel fight.
The movie starts with pure action, and as expected from seeing the trailers, there was a good bit of action throughout this movie. To balance it all out, there is also some character interaction and development, enough to flesh out the characters like Asuka and Mari. I especially liked the cuts of Tokyo-3 bustling and filled with people doing their thing and living their lives. Asuka seemed much more likeable, probably closer to the definition of tsundere. Rei smiles a lot more and her caring of Shinji is made obvious. Asuka’s animosity towards Rei is, in no small part, due to Shinji. Mari is crazy, and she has a nice rack. Kaji got an unexpectedly large amount of screen time and seems to play a bigger role than in the TV series (whether this is true is yet to be seen). There’s also a good bit of Penpen, who does a bit of “almost” talking.
Overall, great movie, I enjoyed it quite a bit.
1: Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann Movie 2: Lagann-hen
English: Gurren Lagann The Movie: The Lights in the Sky are Stars
Japanese: 劇場版 天元突破グレンラガン 螺巌篇
MAL Score: 8.57
Humans have enjoyed their lavish, peaceful, and prosperous lives for seven years since the day the almighty Spiral King was defeated—the day they reclaimed their homeland, Earth. However, the boon of this lifestyle leaves them unprepared when an unknown, hostile threat arises due to the ever-growing human population. This calamity is the Anti-Spiral—a fearsome enemy with unparalleled power.
As the Spiral King’s prognosis postulating the destruction of “The Spiral’s World” begins to come true, the pieces are in place, and Team Dai-Gurren is ready. With his late brother’s hope to see a better future for mankind, Simon—along with Nia Teppelin and the rest of the team—is determined to overthrow the mighty Anti-Spiral in order to revive humanity’s lost hope.
The movie included much more different scenes than the first movie Gurren-hen, and the last battle was so intense, one couldn’t blink to miss anything. The background music for this movie was as well different than from the series, and very fitting with each scene of the movie.
Very enjoyable and brilliant.
The movie resumes from the point where the Spiral King has been defeated and Kamina City is being built. The spirals of Earth have lived peacefully for seven years and, surprise, the cast has aged and matured along with the planet. All is well – Yoko is a school teacher somewhere far-off, Viral the immortal Beastman has been imprisoned, Rossiu is a powerful leader in the new worlds government, and Simon is regarded as the hero of all humans in defeating the Spiral King. Peace is boring, and just as requested an enormous battle begins – no less, right as Simon proposes to Nia. The first hour of the movie is dedicated to story taking place on Earth. Albeit a little choppy, it doesn’t lose it’s impact. The second hour of the film is the battle for the universe against the Anti-Spirals in space, with an entire newly animated ending full of explosions, outrageous over-the-top screaming, fighting for justice and all that good stuff. If you loved the original series, you won’t be disappointed.
The animation and art are as beautiful as ever. The colors are vivid and thrilling, bringing the experience of using a galaxy as a weapon right to your home computer. Not much to be said as a lot of the animation is reused, but the new scenes are just as good, if not better, than the originals. The amount of art put into faces and mechs (and mech faces) still amazes me to this day.
Do the impossible. See the invisible. Row. Row. Fight the powah. I hope that sums up the musical score. Just kidding! The music renews a fair amount if tracks including the aforementioned, but what’s really nice how it’s applied. When Sorario Days (the original OP) started playing, I think the back part of my brain stopped working and I submitted to the screen and the anime took over. In summary, the soundtrack enhances the quality to an extent where it can obliterate your senses.
Same characters, but this movie focuses in on Nia in its new scenes. No complaints. Some characters that did or did not survive the first series encounter different fates too, so watch out for those. Some also get new mechas, which might I add, are awesome. And of course, the effect of Kamina’s manly spirit still resonates as strong in this movie as it did before, even though he plays a minor role in the story.
How much did I like this movie? I screamed at my screen for the last 15 minutes of the movie and was carried by the presentation throughout. A truly spectacular movie. There were moments of sadness, moments of joy, moments where it was hard to even blink.
I hope this quick review is enough to wet your pallet for another exciting adventure with all your friends from the Dai-Gurren Brigade. This is a good movie to just flop down on the couch with, regardless of age or gender. Taste is a different matter. If you were not a fan of the original anime, this apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree, and therefore you most likely won’t enjoy this movie as much as I. I gave this anime a 10 because I felt it achieved all things I wanted from it – now you, the reader, have to decide on your own whether it was a 10 or not.
The movie picks up right where Gurren-hen left off, though the opening sequences have been hugely condensed in order to quickly drive the plot into the second arc of the story. The setting expands in Lagann-hen, we travel from Earths surface into interstellar territory, in line with the TV show, although small sections of the story have diverged from the series, some understandably and others disappointingly. Certain new ideas seem extremely rushed, dragging what was a fairly engrossing – if manic – plot downwards. Nevertheless, the scale of the story is as ever admirable and thrilling, though the developmental issues carry over from Gurren-hen, making it clear the Gurren-hen/Lagann-hen film double was more an excuse to cash in on the series, rather than create a coherent piece separate from the TV show. The dialogue, at times, also encountered issues; present simply to move the story along without any natural flow to it.
As in Gurren-hen, the rehashed sequences barely differ – if at all – from the series, but the new scenes go above and beyond. The new ending sequence is a powerhouse of action and zest, which will leave you wishing there was more, but unfortunately, there aren’t as many new additions to Lagann-hen as there were in Gurren-hen. The staff really rely on the climatic sequence to blow you away, and while it may do just that, they don’t really attempt anything deserving of praise throughout the opening and middle acts.
Taku Iwasaki’s score returns for its third outing with no changes, yet the sound and music is a noticeable drop from the first installment. The music felt poorly timed, jumbled and out of place during much of the film, and often it was at such a low volume it may as well have been absent. Even the sound effects, which could have been turned up a couple of notches it give it that extra umph, were disappointing. The sound department manage to redeem themselves a little towards the end with larger emphasis on the music, but it’s a shame an aspect presented so well in the series wasn’t handled better in Lagann-hen.
Developmental issues mean that Rossiu and Kittan are still very much unknown characters to the audience of the movies, and Lagann-hen does little to remedy this. The film makes use of its supporting cast, more so than in Gurren-hen, but extra screen time doesn’t equal development. They are still empty shells with a single trait, which isn’t far below their series counterparts, but disappointing nevertheless as they lack any kind of background or character motivation, and the movie absolutely requires you watch the series in order to comprehend the characters’ depth.
The stand-out segment in Lagann-hen is the climatic sequence, which delivers and then some, and is probably the sole reason to venture into the second installment beyond just re-watching the series. Pushed for time, Lagann-hen is always moving, but even so it begins to tire. Undoubtedly, far more could have been done to create a more coherent adaptation of the series, and it’s unfortunate the studio behind such an enjoyable work would rather cut corners and cash in, than create a comprehensive piece both long-time fans and those new to the franchise can enjoy.
Did YOUR favorite anime make the cut? Let us know in the comments below!
1. Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann Movie 2: Lagann-hen
2. Evangelion: 2.0 You Can (Not) Advance
4. Summer Wars
5. Macross F Movie 1: Itsuwari no Utahime