They are by far the best anime! We counts down the best anime to come out all the time, including the likes of Di Gi Charat: Hoshi no Tabi, Kamui no Ken, Grimm Douwa: Kin no Tori, and more!
50: Di Gi Charat: Hoshi no Tabi
English: Di Gi Charat Movie: A Trip To The Planet
Japanese: 劇場版 Di Gi Charat[デ ジ キャラット] 星の旅
MAL Score: 6.58
Dejiko decided to take a vacation and visit her home, Planet Di Gi Charat, together with Puchiko, Gema, and (accidentally) Rabi~en~Rose. However, Piyoko and her aids would not let go this chance to capture her.
The music on this anime is as good as the previous. The use of another variant of the sticky song “party night” is a safe decision but there is nothing new. The voices are acceptable or at least there wasn’t anything that drag the anime down. Every important character from the anime makes an appearance that can make the fans laugh.
This OVA is done for the fans. Personally, I saw the anime a long time ago and this bring a lot of memories from the anime. The humor is somewhat relaxing and meant for everybody to just sit and relax a couple of minutes. Since this is that kind of anime I give it an 8, because it is very good but not near great.
49: Kamui no Ken
MAL Score: 6.63
A young boy named Jiro finds his mother and sister murdered in his home. Falsely accused of the crime, he flees from his village and meets a priest named Tenkai, who has him kill a rogue ninja named Tarouza. After fulfilling that task, Jiro undergoes training to become a master assassin. Many years later, Jiro finds out that he was an orphan and his real father was Tarouza, who had worked for Tenkai until he aborted his mission when he fell in love with an Ainu woman. The young ninja discovers that the Shogunate was to retrieve the lost treasure of Captain Kidd and use it to once again isolate Japan from the rest of the world. Using the clues that Tarouza had kept secret, Jiro—along with the female ninja Oyuki and a slave named Sam—travels to Russia and America to search for the treasure in hopes of using it to extract revenge from Tenkai.
The first thing of note is the outstanding soundtrack. It’s a unique mixture of electro rock and funky synth tunes, merged with traditional instruments and spoken sound effects. If you’ve seen Miyazaki’s highly acclaimed The Wind Rises, you’ll remember the amazing train scene with spoken sound effects. Kamui uses a lot of that and it sounds cool. The music also blends in perfectly – when Jiro is with the Native Americans there’s even a pan flute in there.
The second thing that woos the viewer is the animation. There are a number of impressive scenes, but arguably the best ones are the ones where characters and objects dissipate into colorful particles that fly around and glitter like in a kaleidoscope. All of this is not that surprising when we look at the production list. Made by Madhouse – one of the oldest studios that constantly puts out high quality content. Directed by Rintaro, also behind jaw dropping visual masterpieces like the Adieu Galaxy Express 999. Key animation by Kawajiri and Takashi Nakamura, whose hands touched a number of extremely cool and stylish animated works.
The third thing is historical accuracy and here we get to the part that seasoned viewers might appreciate a bit more. By no means is Kamui hardcore accurate, but the environments of 19th century Japan and America are pretty believable. The Ainu and Native American tribes are a bit romanticized of course, but it’s quite pleasant to observe their habits and attires and compare them to the Japanese.
Another interesting thing to observe is the clash of ideology, culture and religion of the time. The main clash is obviously between the Shogunate and the rising imperial forces that happened during the Boshin war. A more subtle one is between the Japanese and the indigenous Ainu tribes. This being portrayed at all is kind of a big deal, because the Japanese are a bit shy and embarrassed when it comes to depicting their native tribes, because of the complicated ways in which they were “assimilated” (unlike Americans who like to flash around with the heritage of their natives).
The religious clash is kinda connected to the cultural one – Buddhism VS the worship of local deities. It’s a common theme, often present in anime and manga too. If you look closely you can draw the following parallels: Tenkai’s face = Buddha = the Devil’s incarnate. It’s not uncommon to see in Japanese literature the tales of Buddhism spreading from Korea or China and violently trying to phase out the local deities. One of the most fascinating depictions of this clash can be found in the Sun chapter of Phoenix, a most influential manga by Osamu Tezuka.
The Dagger of Kamui is a pretty interesting work indeed, although it’s not as well defined and polished as let’s say Princess Mononoke, on which Miyazaki worked meticulously to atone himself for Nausicaa (which he was forced to do a quick adaptation when the original manga was just starting out). Neither is it as striking as works like Ninja Scroll, but even action fans shouldn’t be disappointed as there is enough slashing and slicing to go around.
He’s framed for the murder of his mother and sister and forced to flee from his village and is taken in by a monk named Tenkai whom gives Jiro the task of training to become a ninja.
The art style is very well suited for the anime and the ninja fight scenes are done quite well. The musical score is truly something else, it’s something like a fusion of 80s rock and traditional Japanese music and in a lot of scenes it does a really good job of setting the mood.
Over the duration of the story, Jiro learns about the (then) small world of feudal Japan and the remainder of the modern world. He even meets some significant historical figures along the way.
One of the themes touched on by this movie is the question that the Japanese likely asked themselves during this era.. that is, “If we become a modern nation, will we lose something in the process of doing so?”
If you’re into action anime, you’ll enjoy this one. If you’re into historical drama, you’ll enjoy this one.
48: Grimm Douwa: Kin no Tori
English: The Golden Bird
Japanese: グリム童話 金の鳥
MAL Score: 6.70
“Kin No Tori” is an adaptation of the homonymous fairy tale “The Golden Bird” by Brothers Grimm.
A golden apple is stolen from the King’s garden. The King orders his three sons to guard the apples in turn and to find out who is the thief. When the youngest son, Hansu, presents a feather that he got from the golden bird that stole the apple the king sends his three sons to bring this bird to him and so Hansu journey begins.
Completed in 1984, this film was shelved for three years before being theatrically released.
47: WXIII Kidou Keisatsu Patlabor
English: Patlabor Movie 3: WXIII
Japanese: WXIII 機動警察パトレイバー
MAL Score: 6.73
When the level of Labor accidents begin to escalate around Tokyo Bay, police detectives Kusumi and Hata are assigned to investigate. What they discover leads to a series of government cover-ups, conspiracy concerning a new biological weapon entitled WXIII-Wasted Thirteen and a tragic, personal connection to Hata. The only hope to stop this threat is to cooperate with the military and lead WXIII into a showdown with the Labors of Special Vehicle Division 2.
There’s three main premise you expect from a Patlabor title;brilliant animation,a strong storyline and carefully choreographed mecha action.Patlabor movie 3 does a good job of blending all these.
The animation is top notch.Drawing are done with great detail and rich colour.The only minor flaw would be the character design which at times looks shoddy and crudely done,but overall the animation is what you would expect from a Patlabor title.The story is definitely one that you have to pay close attention or risk getting lost in what at times may come across as a bit convoluted.I got a strange unfamiliar feeling watching this anime as for the most part it had the feel of a standard detective anime rather than a labor title.This could be due to unlike the first two movie and the series this one wasn’t build around the familiar cast.
Patlabor was never as action oriented as other mecha anime eg gundam,macross” but instead tried to blend the action into the plot as it went along.Needless to say there is even less action in this movie as most of it surrounds the actual detective theme.The only time you’ll even get to see the familiar police labor is in the closing stages.
The character while unimpressive comes across as realistic and fitted their role well without feeling out of place.
Overall a enjoyable movie and a must see for any fan of the Patlabor title.
That’s how out of touch this movie felt to me. Me and my friend who had been binging the Patlabor series/movies just this week and we both agreed this movie is like the unnecessary “reboot”. It was only a decade after movie 2, but Oshii (the original creator) has made it clear through movie 2 that it was the final movie in the Patlabor franchise. This one felt like a forced attempt to revive the series (since Oshii isn’t even directing this one).
The scene where SVU 2 actually came in to action in this movie was so alienated; I keep feeling like they’re hollow husks of their once bright personalities, called upon to act out roles they no longer have. Still, it gets a 6 for me since I still like serious detective/crime series and compared to modern standard it is still somewhat okay.
Fun fact: Took 1 hour 16 minute into the movie to see an actual robot.
Story – 9 The movie is a detective mystery focusing on detectives Kusumi and his junior partner, Hata. The story takes the premise of a huge sea creature from OVA 3 of the Early Days OVA and the escaped lab experiment creature hunting down labors from episode 4 of the tv series and turns it into a feature length film. Everything that happens in the film is all traceable to the character Misaki, a scientist and Hata’s love interest. Her backstory leads to some great revelations that adds layers to the plot and allows the plot to come to a conclusive end. The pacing is slow but reveals things at the right moment and as mentioned earlier, there are no loose plot threads left hanging. The themes of inter bureaucratic political strife and human bioresearch tampering with natural life is hinted at and very subtle. Where as Oshii is subtle with themes such as this through heavy layering of metaphors, symbolism and philosophical dialogue, WXIII simply never directly mentions these themes. Thus, the film lacks the lasting impact of the other in the series.
Art – 9 Produced by Madhouse rather than Production IG, Madhouse obviously does a brilliant job with both art and animation. It is consistently pleasant throughout the film and the artstyle is realistic. However, no part of Madhouse’s fault, the film is nowhere as visually spectacular. Without Oshii, the dynamic angles, great choreography, slow panning shots, odd camerawork and a fck ton of symbolism that are his trademarks are non present. The film does have nice shots of the city but this, combined with the flight of birds only makes it look more like an attempt to emulate Oshii’s work in the earlier films.
Sound – 8 Kenji returns to compose this film’s soundtrack. It follows the format of the other two film’s soundtrack and compliments what happens onscreen well enough. I’m no expert in techno/ambient music but it should be obvious that the music lacks the punch of the other two movies.
Character – 8 I suppose its nice to have Kusumi get his own story. His veteran knowledge and detective instincts compliment Hata’s sharp observational skills and quick thinking well. Hata also helps draws out Misaki’s motivations and thoughts. Misaki’s actions are selfish and flawed but unfaultable. Its rather interesting. It is regrettable that most of the SV2 group barely appears in the movie; if at all. Noa, Ohta and Shinohara are no more than background characters! The Ingram itself appears barely as long as the aforementioned three characters do while thankfully, Goto as a supporting character per usual appears for 5 minutes at least.
Overall – 8
Given the lack of not only the SV2 cast but also the Ingram; especially considering that they appear 20 MINUTES before the films end and the fact that there is no excuse since this is NOT an Oshii film where story and visuals come first over characters, it can be argued that this is not a Patlabor movie. It is merely set in the same universe but instead, focuses on the exploits of two detectives of the regular police. Indeed, pacing could be a little slow for some people; especially annoying since the movie manages to have less action than the two first despite having even less visual and thematic development. All of that aside, a flick that hardcore Patlabor fans and newcomers to the franchise can easily enjoy thanks to its solid storytelling and animation.
Rating: M for people being eaten and a particularly foul mouthed film director (in natural English too)
46: Highlander: The Search for Vengeance
MAL Score: 6.74
Colin MacLeod, the immortal Scottish Highlander, travels with the wise-cracking ghost Amergan in search of the immortal despot Marcus Octavius, who killed Colin’s lover on the Celtic plains centuries earlier. The once great city of New York is now submerged under water, with only one dominant fortress towering over the sea, the fortress of Marcus Octavius. MacLeod is torn between saving the survivors of New York and hunting down his nemesis.
Story: This is what happens when you get a writer who is 1. subpar and 2. Not Japanese. The writer for this has written for Highlander before, alot for highlander. I think that he’s written ONLY for Higlander. The formula for this anime is VERY simple and yet incredibly complex. Revenge. I’ve seen revenge done before, and i’ve seen it done VERY well. Highlander has a very simple revenge plot, it’s so simple that it’s insulting. There’s also the TERRIBLE sideplots….these were also insulting. I’m not giving any spoilers, but really, even if I did, it wouldn’t really spoil anything at all. All the "plot developments" were predictable and boring. And i’m usually too busy paying attention to what’s going on to think about what’s going to happen. But I was constantly thinking about what "twist" they were going to throw at me next. Oh and the script is absolutely terrible. If you can’t finish 50% of the lines before the actors say them…then you’re not trying hard enough.
Art: For a terrible anime the art is pretty nice. The art is very smooth, very crisp. There are some really beautiful scenes, and then there are a bunch that aren’t that hot. The action scenes lacked flow. They all seemed very static and choppy, very few seemed beautiful. Someone compared this to Afro Samurai and mentioned that the fight scenes lacked intensity, which is exactly what it lacks. This anime is meant to be all about action, and yet the effort put into these scenes seems so lacklustre. The art reminded me alot of Basilisk, and I’m not a huge fan of the style, it really doesn’t suit the "feel" of this anime.
Sound: All that was available for me was the english dub….which frightened me. BUT I watched it. They got McLeod with a Scottish accent…….half the time. Which is HILARIOUS when he drops it for a bunch of lines. The english voice actors deliver every line terribly, it doesn’t help that the entire script is riddled with terribly cheesy lines and ridiculous one-liners. They had some ridiculous rock music for a bunch of it as well….that didn’t help.
Character: Oh man. the characters here are absolutely hilarious. You have the protagonist Colin, who’s only dream is vengeance. He wants revenge because some guy "Markus" killed his wife. He’s silent, angry, and incredibly powerful. you have Markus, who’s such a "bad guy." you even watch his girlfriend kill some gigantic barbarian without breaking a sweat. Then he makes out with her. Oh yeah, he’s bad. Then there’s the whore with an ulterior motive, who tries to sleep with Mcleod….but he refuses because he’s faithful to some wife who died hundreds of years ago. You have the annoying little kid with a dying sister who just HAS to join them because he has to save her from a virus that kills people. *sigh* Just watching them hurts, trying to analyze them hurts even more.
Enjoyment: No one should watch this. For an anime, it didn’t even feel like an anime. This is probably the perfect example for anyone who hates how some anime become "americanized." This is an American anime…but it’s not fun, it’s not creative, it’s not original. Only a die-hard Highlander fan could stand watching this.
Please. Don’t make the mistake that I made. This anime is horrible, worse than an American B-movie. Even in the first 10 minutes it’s really easy to see that it’s not going to get any better, and it doesn’t…it just gets worse.
The story was pretty fair, there were no breath taking action sequences but even tho, it was enjoyful. It moves from the future to the past and back… simply to bring a little bit of complication in to it. Its all about revenge and hate , and anger, and how you cant win if those feelings are leading your way kinda thing. Im sure you know what I mean since weve seen it before…
The Animation is really great, everyone will enjoy the animations and effects that this movie has. There are few really good gory scenes in which are used effects that are just marvellous, so there is something to look at.
The music (rock or metal, sorry that I can’t tell) is fitting but after a while you will concentrate on the fights and scenes so much that you wont even know that there was some background music, thats not a bad thing but I just feel like its a waste of efford in that matter. Sound effects are well done, everything sounds as it should, the metal chinging, bullet shots, explosions… all sounds just right.
Higlander is originaly in english, the voice acting was fine, what was really great idea was that the accent of the characters was changing, in the past they were talking with a scottish accent and in the future it was american, nice touch there.
Characters arent anything special, there was just nothing new what would make those characters unique. However it was a fair job nothing to be sad about.
So dont fix whats not broken…
I really enjoyed it from start till the end, I really think that this is gonna be enjoyful for Highlander fans (from what I hear) nothing to be crazy about, but if you want some serious sword action it will take you in but not as well as other titles (Vampire Hunter D: Blood Lust). For those that are searching for a good lone hero adventure, you might have found your Jackpot but for most people its a One Timer at worst.
Unfortunately for me the Search For Vengeance was a bit hit and miss for me. While it ticks all the boxes for what you would expect from a film in the highlander franchise it does little else beyond that.
The film is set in a post-apocalyptic New York City where the protagonist Colin Macleod, Of the Clan Macleod (naturally) arrives and discovers that Marcus Octavius, who he has been chasing throughout time in a quest of vengeance over the death of his wife is the leader of this ruined city. Colin joins up with the local rebels of the town, reluctantly, to take down Marcus who is planning to wipe out the city’s population with a virus so he can build his new utopian society from its ashes.
As you would expect from the talent on hand the film looks really, really good. The animation is top notch with some great character designs. I particularly liked the design of Dahlia who with her red hair and clothes is such a stark contrast to the dull and grey environment of this desolate New York. Colin is also well designed as looks like a badass action hero but not in a generic way. Where the animation really excels is in the action scenes and as you would expect from the director of Ninja Scroll the action is fast paced and enjoyable. The audio is quite solid too with a good soundtrack and all the voicework is top notch. Even in the flashbacks to Scotland the accents and the dialogue sound perfect.
Unfortunately it is with the writing that my main criticisms lay. The writers clearly played it safe here and did not tinker with the Highlander formula at all, and beyond the highlander stuff the plot just has that “done to death” feel about it. Films set in a post apocolyptic world are nothing new and neither are stories of vengeance revolving around a murdered lover. As for highlander specific stuff as I said it ticks all the boxes: We get to see how Colin discovers he is immortal and we see plenty of other flashbacks from different points in history and each time the flashback is triggered by something in the present day. Colin has a love interest in the present day who just happens to resemble his one true love from the past. And this was my problem because all of this had either been done in the original movie and tv show and was just not that interesting to me. Now clearly they wanted to make a movie that fans and newcomers could enjoy and I respect that and that was probably the right way to go but as a fan of the franchise there just was nothing here I had not seen before.
45: Anne no Nikki
English: The Diary of Anne Frank
MAL Score: 6.80
Amsterdam, June 12, 1942. Anne celebrates her 13th birthday and begins her diary, which she calls “Kitty”. Hiding for two years from the German threat, the young girl writes about her idealistic views on the world, her ambitions, her fears and her first love, Peter.
It was surprising to learn that an anime of Anne Frank’s diary had been made—by Madhouse, no less, one of my favorite studios. I’d known about Anne’s story for a while, but I avoided it because I feared that it might be too depressing for me to handle. Regardless, my curiosity for this especially unique adaptation eventually got the best of me, and I relented.
As expected, this story was difficult to watch. Even seemingly peaceful moments are underpinned by anxiety and melancholy that keeps you from ever feeling at ease. The presence of the Nazis encroaching the lives of Anne and her family are always felt even when they’re not seen. And Anne and her family weren’t the only victims of this time. There were countless other families and individuals across central-Europe who were made to endure similar struggles. It all ultimately begs the questions: Why did this have to happen? How could such paranoid hatred develop?
A lot of care was put into the production of Anne no Nikki. The character designs matched their real-life counterparts, and the animation was often inbetweened on twos, resulting in a lifelike fluidity atypical of anime animation. The soundtrack was minimalist, lightly enhancing the atmosphere of particular moments without being a distraction.
Furthermore, I appreciated the subtlety of the directing. People are portrayed as historical figures rather than as characters. A naturalistic approach is taken that resists the temptation to exaggerate for the sake of dramatic effect. The sedate pacing might be trying for less patient viewers, but a more energetic portrayal wouldn’t have rung true to the actual events that this adaptation drew from.
If I had to dig deep for a flaw, I’d say that there was an occasional tinge of sentimentality, which, considering the strong emotions that were already present, didn’t feel necessary. Despite this, the heart and salient moral lesson that Anne no Nikki paints more than compensates for any apparent flaws.
The story doesn’t seem to be great at all- big parts of te diary are missing- and somehow, I dont think these parts coul be replaced. No, these Anime is not good enough with these parts missing.
The art was just awful, no other way to explain it.
Wow. I was definitely surprised here. I didn’t think an anime about Anne Frank could have such a beautiful soundtrack, a soundtrack that comes just in the right moment, and shows some hidden feelings that you cannot just explain.
I think here’s the best thing in this anime. They managed showing the life of a teenage girl breaking out to pieces. They managed showing the way she felt, the way she thought. They made it all just, wonderful.
Anyway, I think Its a good anime to watch- but can’t replace her original diary, though.
Okay, first off the story! Wow! So much is wrong! And a lot of things are downplayed way too much. Like Anne’s and Petter’s romance, Anne’s friends, Anne’s problems with her mother, the friction between the van Daan’s and the Franks, also that they all knew each other before coming! The helpers are also really downplayed, that really bothered me. They only showed Meip doing things for them, even when Meip comes over she came with Bep. I feel like I’m really disliking this for how much I know, but it’s a problem, there’s just so much that’s wrong and it’s really hard to get into to boot! I’m going to give the story a soiled three.
The art… it was better with the pictures on the wall than on the characters. The best was with the Franks, but even with them, I kept getting confused who was who when they weren’t talking. The van Daan’s could’ve been better, Mr. van Daan was a bit too fat, and Mrs. van Daan was too skinny, she’s a bit of a plump woman. Petter is alright though, I guess. Mr. Dussel, okay side track moment! Fun fact, Dussel in German means Nincompoop! Okay, back to the review! He was way too fat and looked nothing like his real-life counterpart. With Meip, she looked a bit too much like the Franks, only thing different is basically the hair color. The art was very underwhelming, considering I’ve seen movies that are older than this one with better art. I’m giving this a 2.
Sound, there isn’t much to say I guess. I felt like the voice actors were really lacking though. Also, the ost isn’t anything I would listen too, it’s really meh and forgettable. Although it wasn’t horrible so I’ll give this a 4.
Character… I wasn’t impressed, especially with the Anne Frank. She was a normal girl! She loved movies, she loved to travel, she loved ice skating, and she loved the outdoors. She was very hot-headed and very sweet, she loved romance! And she came out as a very bland character, which is really disappointing to me. Margot, they didn’t do much about her, even going to hiding was really downplayed with how much in danger she was in. Everyone else is basically just there. At least they did attempt to show how close Anne and Otto were. I’m giving this a 1.
My enjoyment… well it took me two days to finish this movie, that’s pretty bad. It was really hard for me to get into, and I wish I could like this, but I just can’t. I’m giving it a 3 and an overall 3.
With all this said, I am happy this was made, as it shows that they tried to do something. It’s very rare to see Jews in anime at all, which kinda makes me sad. Cause I like to be included, I’m not religious I am Jewish by blood. So I hope that Japan tries to bring in more things like this I guess. Thank you for reading, I hope this helps and have a wonderful day.
44: Ace wo Nerae! (1979)
English: Aim for the Ace! (1979)
MAL Score: 6.83
High school freshman Hiromi joins the tennis club because of her admiration for Ryuzaki. Ryuzaki is a senior, who’s the best tennis player on the team and also nicknamed “Ochoufujin”, (“Madame Butterfly”), because of her elegance on the tennis court. However, the new coach, Jin Munakata, wants the inexperienced Hiromi to play in a forthcoming tournament.
Due to this, Hiromi considers quitting tennis for good but, in the depth of her soul, she soon realizes that she loves tennis after all. She returns to the club and, under Munakata’s coaching, her talent starts to bloom.
In the end, Hiromi develops a strong emotional bond with her coach, not knowing that Munakata is risking his life because of a chronic illness.
This movie serves as a recap for the television series from the early 70s. Since I went into this movie not seeing the original series, I can’t compare how this film does justice to it or the original manga. However as a standalone story it’s a very good one. Hiromi Oka is a freshman member of her high schools tennis club, which also happens to have many of the best players in the country. On her first day a new coach is introduced and Hiromi is quickly picked by him as a top new prospect, though no one else seems to see this talent including Hiromi herself. He pushes her with a brutal training regiment and slowly she becomes better and more confident leading up to the ultimate goal of making the national squad to compete internationally.
The movie features great sports action and even though I am not particularly a fan of tennis, I found the action to be both realistic and exciting. It also does a great job of keeping it simple. Often movies, particularly recap ones, try to do too much and cram so much information in them that they end up not making a lot of sense. That’s not the case here as we are given just enough background on the supporting cast to make you care for the characters. While the focus of the story remains fixed on the tennis aspects, Ace wo Nerae does a good job of mixing in a little romance and some compelling dramatic plotlines.
I really loved the cast and in particular the lead, Hiromi Oka. She is a bit of your standard leading lady but I found her to be a very interesting and likeable character. I can imagine that she has influenced many of the anime heroines that have succeeded her over the years. The strict coach Jin Munakata, is your typically stoic man with a mysterious past. Though his motivations are hidden from the audience for almost the entire film when they are revealed I felt that they worked pretty well. The rest of the cast is good and the character archetypes will be familiar. Reika who is the best player on the team and is idolized by Hiromi, is aloof and tough on Oka because she doesn’t think she deserves what the coach gives her. She’s a pretty good foil for Hiromi though you can’t really call her a villain. Unlike a lot of sports stories where the rival of the hero or heroine is usually a total asshole, Reika doesn’t come across that way nor will be hated by viewers. Toudou is the best male player on the team and is the love interest for Oka. He’s a likeable character though the romance elements take a backseat to the sports action.
For a movie from the late 70s, the animation holds up remarkably well to today’s standards. The art and character designs are top notch and it is quite beautiful to watch. The only thing that really is painful to view is some of the god awful hair styles and clothing. The acting is very solid as well, though the music is typically 70s but neither particularly good nor bad. There are some really great sound effects however, the tennis matches sounded exactly like they should.
I strongly encourage everyone to go out and try to find a copy of this movie to watch. Anyone who considers themselves a fan of anime should give this a shot. Don’t let its age fool you, Ace wo Nerae! is classic.
High Schooler Oka has one goal: to play tennis. Especially with the much more beautiful and mature Madame Butterfly. A tennis queen unmatched in elegance and power. Among her peers she is just like the rest of the newcomers. Unskilled and clumsy. So it is much to all’s surprise when new coach Munakata choses Oka to play as a regular in an upcoming tournament rather than her seniors. The story grows as we see the main characters get ready for the final match between Madame Butterfly and Oka Hiromi. A coach with a harsh training style, a tennis newcomer who will do anything to achieve her dreams, and her bitter rival bent on defeating her through skill alone.
While nothing extremely deep (no, tennis does not reach to far into the psyche) Aim for the Ace offers a glimpse into what we all felt when we were younger, that our passions define our life.
I understand that the context was different for the demographic at the time. A 70s shoujo manga about a hot older man taking a passionate interest in you above and beyond the other girls, feverishly driving you to be the best version of yourself because of his dark, traumatic past. Were I a japanese teen girl 35 years ago, no doubt this is would be quite captivating to me. Judge it in those terms if you wish, but for me, as an adult in 2021, this is absolute garbaaaage.
Putting those issues aside, the pacing is poor and while some of the scenes are quite nice (Osamu Dezaki really shines in certain moments) overall the production is nothing to rave about. So take some pretty good direction, modest animation, and a fun enough main character and mix that with poor pacing and an absolutely garbage story and you get a 3/10
43: Urusei Yatsura Movie 6: Itsudatte My Darling
English: Urusei Yatsura Movie 6: Always My Darling
Japanese: うる星やつら いつだって マイ ダーリン
MAL Score: 6.83
Lupica, another one of the legion of space princesses that all seem to have found out about Earth in some tour book, appears and abducts Ataru!
But Lupica isn’t after Ataru for his great looks or charming personality (because he doesn’t have either). Lupica’s goal is the greatest love potion in the galaxy, which she intends to use to induce her sweetheart to tie the knot. To get it, she needs the possessor of the greatest lust in the universe…
I hesitate to write a review for this movie. It’s known in the UY community as one of the worst of the series. I actually waited a few weeks while I fully digested this movie to edit my review, something I normally don’t think is necessary. Honestly, the longer time goes by the more generous I usually am with a score. That wasn’t the case here, because once I started reading the synopsis, I was given a PTSD flashback. As a note, I enjoyed this movie because it is UY, not because it is a good movie. Scores are given relative to the original series.
For comparison, I loved the series, giving it a score of 10.
If you’re going for the “Complete UY” achievement, I suggest watching this around episode 190 in the series so that you have some decent material left to make you forget about this atrocity.
The story is not a bad concept, but it just feels so familiar. I kept feeling like I’ve seen it before. I can see some similarities to “The Final Chapter,” but I wouldn’t say it’s a direct copy by any means. However, that isn’t the biggest problem, because if it was, I think the story would still earn a decent score. Looking at the movie, it feels like every idea put on the drawing board somehow made it into the final product. Furthermore, it feels like one giant best of segment, where the “best ofs” are situations and script, as opposed to just a re-airing. Seriously, the entire movie seems to do nothing but reference the series, while surrounded by a slightly different story. As a result, the story ends up feeling like a jumbled hot mess. There are a number of “false endings,” most notably at the 30 minute mark, where I was a bit shocked to see that I wasn’t even halfway through yet. Then there are times where it jumps around so quickly, that coherency is broken. UY is no stranger to bat-shit crazy, but still within the madness there was some type of coherency. This movie felt like the story board director fell asleep during production and then woke up at the premier.
The art was worse than the series. Sometimes faces were incredibly bland and featureless, other times main characters looked strange. The art in the series and every other movie was not only better, but cleaner. Remember when I said there was no coherency about the storyline? Well there is coherency between the story line and the art. Both are incredibly choppy and jump around. A bit dizzying, honestly. So much stuff happens so quickly that at times I felt like I had whiplash.
As for sound, I can only guess that they didn’t have the money in the budget to hire a real orchestra. Not only is the music writing generally bad, but the vast majority sounds like it was, at the very least, recorded on a keyboard. That’s being nice, because it really sounds like they just had a computer midi program play it back. They would’ve been better off just using the series’ original score. It would’ve been cheap, I would’ve still mentioned that it was a cop-out, but it would’ve gotten a better score and actually been good. Acting is on par with the rest of the series.
Then let’s talk about how the movie’s goal seemed to be a cameo of every character ever used in the series. Kinda like it was a cameo of every situation that happened in the series. Ten’s mother? Suddenly on earth standing in a random crowd of people on the street. The Phantom Red Mantle? Chillin’ outside a bar on a different planet. Almost every background character was a character from the series at some point. It was ridiculous and distracting.
Is there anything I like about “Always My Darling?” Sure. The very last scene with Cherry was classic UY and made me laugh. I laughed at the scene before that as well, not because it was good, but because of it’s absurd “suddenly we’re all friends” approach to Lupika. And therein lies the problem, if there was anything I did like about this movie, it’s overshadowed by the blatant money grab this poorly executed movie was.
I think, at heart, the storyline had potential despite being a homologation of most of the other story arcs. Honestly, had the story been executed properly and many of the reference-to-a-past-joke scenes been eliminated, I probably wouldn’t have noticed its repetitive plot.
I enjoyed this movie because it is UY, not because it is a good movie. The story isn’t bad, but it is plagued by poor execution. Along with the art editing, it just jumps around too much and is really annoying. The music is just plain bad. If you want the UY achievement for watching all of the series/OVAs/movies, you’ll have to sit through this long 77 minute movie, otherwise, I’d just skip it.
I’ll keep this short, the storyline behind this film feels like they took specific parts of previous Urusei Yatsura films and stitched them together to make…this. I won’t summarize the plot, because I’ll sound like a broken record, but if you made it this far into Urusei Yatsura and read the synopsis for this film, you know exactly what’s going to happen. None of it was bad in any way, but you’ve seen it all before. It had some goofy moments that made laugh, and some sad moments that made me a little emotional. It’s just Urusei Yatsura, that’s all. The story wasn’t exceptional, but it wasn’t underwhelming either. It was just mediocre. I do love the scene where Ataru tricks his entire class and manipulates them into doing random stuff for the love potion. Mendo threatens to kill Ataru if he doesn’t tell him where it is, but Ataru can’t tell them where it is if he’s dead, so he takes advantage of them. That was a great scene, but it didn’t last all that long.
The music is not worth mentioning. It sounds just like the other songs from the last couple of films. Something that is worth mentioning are the character designs. I love them! I briefly mentioned in my last review that over time, the character designs, with each film were becoming more refined and expressive. I think the characters look fine in any specific way they’re drawn; even in the first film. Always My Darling did an excellent job at giving these characters a more updated 90’s look, it fits them very well. It looks like I’m watching Ranma ½! They have the exact same character designs, and at this point, Takahashi’s art style had changed a lot over a decade.
This film was okay. It had it’s moments, but it wasn’t all that good. I’m still putting it ahead of Remember My Love, because that film feels so uninspired and dry compared to the other films. Keep in mind, the gap in quality between Remember My Love and Always My Darling is not that big. I’m giving it a slight edge, only because I found more enjoyment out of this film. And with that, I’M DONE REVIEWING THESE MOVIES! Took some time, and a few pair of eyeballs, but I’m done. This movie gets a 6 out of 10. I’m gonna go watch Ranma ½ for the umpteenth time. Later, fuckfaces (￣▽￣)ノ.
Movies: 3 < 6 < 1 < 4 < 2 < 5 Story: 4/10 Art: 7/10 Sound: 5/10 Characters: 6/10 Enjoyment: 7/10 Overall: 6/10 [/collapse]
42: No Game No Life: Zero – Manner Movie
Japanese: ノーゲーム ノーライフ ゼロ マナー映像
MAL Score: 6.84
Short theater manners animation shown before main movie.
[collapse title=“Reviews1:”][A 2-Minute Guide about Manners in the Movie Theater]
Before the movie “No Game No Life: Zero” began, this 2-minute theater animation was created to showcase what manners you should and shouldn’t be doing in the movie theater.
To demonstrate these manners, cute Chibi art style versions of Shiro, Sora, Stephanie Dola, and Jibril narrate, and perform outrageous and funny skits to highlight them.
The voice actors, particularly Yoshitsugu Matsuoka and Ai Kayano, who play Sora and Shiro, respectively, do an excellent job informing us of these manners. Also, a special mention to Yukari Tamura and Yoko Hikasa, who play Jibril and Stephanie Dola, respectively, for providing additional comedic moments.
The animations are somewhat choppy, but for a 2-minute theater animation, this is negligible and has no effect on the overall message that this theater animation was trying to convey.
These are the Ten Rules (i.e., manners) for watching “No Game No Life: Zero”:
1. Mute your mobile phone
2. Any conversation during the watching are forbidden.
3. It’s forbidden to use fire in the building of the cinema.
4. It’s forbidden to use magic in the building of the cinema.
5. Carrying dangerous things is strictly prohibited.
6. Do not disturb people around you.
7. Recording is strictly prohibited.
8. Dispose of garbage in the trash cans
9. All the above rules are binding. In the name of the Blank.
10. Let’s enjoy the movie.
This was a great instructional video about manners in the movie theater, and it makes me wish more movie theaters incorporated something like this.
In this case, we are being told this by Sora and Shiiro, who display their own characteristics before presenting this movie to you. We also see Jibril and Steph showing their personalities and representing what you should not do, and getting scolded by the siblings.
In this case, we are being told this by Sora and Shiiro, who display their own characteristics before presenting this movie to you. We also see Jibril and Steph showing their personalities and representing what you should not do, and getting scolded by the siblings.
41: Hi no Tori: Houou-hen
English: Phoenix: Karma Chapter
Japanese: 火の鳥 鳳凰編
MAL Score: 6.85
Akanemaru, a skilled sculptor, sets out to find the muse for his masterpiece, the legendary immortal bird Phoenix. However, on his journey, he encounters unexpected trouble when he runs into Gaou, a one-eyed, one-armed bandit. Despite Akanemaru’s friendly demeanor, Gaou, who harbors animosity toward the world as a ruthless man, attacks and robs him.
As they go their separate ways, the unfortunate incident fades into oblivion. Years later, Akanemaru is forced to accept a new assignment and abandon his dream, while Gaou is stricken with sudden misfortune—a twist of fate that will change both their lives forever. But little do they know that these new circumstances will eventually lead them to cross paths once more: this time as rivals.
Set in Japan’s Nara period, Hi no Tori: Houou-hen explores the fragile balance between action and consequence as it follows the lives of two men who must inevitably confront the responsibilities of their choices.
কিছুদিন ধরে আমাকে এক নেশায় পেয়েছে। ৮০-৯০ দশকের Madhouse এর OVA দেখছি। তখন খুজতে গিয়ে এই OVA সিরিজটার সন্ধান পাই। এটি বিখ্যাত মাঙ্গাকা Osamu Tezuka রচিত মাঙ্গার আডাপ্টেসন। মাঙ্গাটির প্রতি ভলুমে একটি করে গল্প আছে। একেকটি গল্পের সেটিং সম্পূর্ণ আলাদা। তবে গল্পগুলোর মধ্যে যোগসূত্র স্থাপন করেছে “Hi no Tori” বা “Immortal Phoenix” এর আবির্ভাব।
এর আগেও অবশ্য এইটার খোঁজ পেয়েছিলাম, তখন ম্যাল এ লো স্কোর দেখে আর আগাই নি। এবার সাহস করে দেখলাম। ভাগ্যিস দেখলাম!! এটার স্কোর এত কম হতেই পারে না। কেন?? কারন এতে আছে দৃষ্টিনন্দন আর্ট, সুথিং মিউসিক, আর সর্বোপরি চিন্তা উদ্রেককারী ম্যাচিওর গল্প। একেকটি OVA শেষ করার পর আপনি অবশ্যই কিছুক্ষণ গভীর চিন্তায় ডুবে যাবেন, গল্পের পিছনের অন্তর্নিহিত দর্শনের খোঁজে।
OVA 1 [Houou-hen (Karma Chapter)]: সারাজীবন দুষ্কর্ম করেও একটিমাত্র ভালো কাজের সুফল যেমন পাওয়া যায়, তেমনি একটিমাত্র অমার্জনীয় অপরাধের সাজা থেকেও মানুষ মুক্তি পায় না। এই শিক্ষাটি আপনি এই OVA থেকে পাবেন। ৩টির মধ্যে এইটা সবচেয়ে বেশি Thought provoking।
OVA 2 [Yamato-hen (Chapter of Yamato)]: রোমান্টিক ফ্যান্টাসির আড়ালে পাবেন আরেকটি অসাধারন দর্শন। এটার এন্ডিংটা আমার খুব পছন্দের।
OVA 3 [Uchuu-hen (Space Chapter)]: স্পেস ড্রামা। ৩টার মধ্যে আমার সবচেয়ে প্রিয়। অসাধারণ সাসপেন্স আর এন্ডিং আছে এটাতে।
যারা হাল্কা স্বাদের আনিমের খোঁজ করেন, এই জিনিস তাদের জন্য নয়। বাকি সবাইকে আমি এই ৩টি OVA দেখার অনুরোধ করব।
এই ৩টি OVA ছাড়াও TV series আছে, মুভিও আছে। টিভি সিরিজটা Tezuka Productions এর বানানো, আর্ট কোয়ালিটি অত ভালো নয়।
For a while I’ve got an addiction. I’m looking for OVAs of Madhouse in the 80s-90s era. Then I came across this OVA series. It is an adaptation of the manga composed by the famous mangaka Osamu Tezuka. There is a story in each volume of the manga. The setting of each story is completely different. However, the stories are linked up by the advent of “Hi no Tori” or “Immortal Phoenix”.
Actually I came across these before. Then I dared not to try these out, looking at the low scores. This time I dared. Thank God I did!! The score cannot be so low. Why ?? Because it has wonderful art, soothing music, and above all, thought provoking and mature story. After completing one of the OVAs, you will surely be in deep ponder for some time, looking for the underlying philosophy behind the story.
OVA 1 [Houou-hen (Karma Chapter)]: A single good deed may save a human immersed in a lifetime of evil deeds. On the other hand, humans can’t escape from the punishment of a single unforgivable crime. This is the lesson you will get from this OVA. This is the most thought provoking of the 3.
OVA 2 [Yamato-hen (Chapter of Yamato)]: Behind romantic fantasy lies a spectacular philosophy. The ending is my favorite.
OVA 3 [Uchuu-hen (Space Chapter)]: Space Drama. This one is my favorite of the 3. It has excellent suspense and ending.
This is not for those who seek light anime. To everyone else, I would request to see these 3 OVAs.
Apart from these 3 OVAs, there are TV series and movies. But the art quality of the TV series made by Tezuka Productions is not that good.
Check this eargasmic ending theme 😀
Just some context: Hi no Tori is a manga by the great Osamu Tezuka, who is unfortunately primarily known as the creator of Astro Boy. I say “unfortunately” because although Astro Boy may be a seminal work and an important stepping stone in the history of anime & manga, it does not come even close to rivaling the sheer brilliance and philosophical depth of Hi no Tori, which I would class as one of the ten greatest works of fiction I have come across. Anyway 2 adaptations had been tried before Hi no Tori: Houou-hen: the live action film Hi no Tori: Daybreak Chapter, and the loose anime adaptation Hi no Tori 2772: Ai no CosmoZone, both of which I have had the misfortune of watching. Daybreak Chapter was directed by the usually fantastic Japanese auteur Kon Ichikawa in the low period of his career, the film itself being his nadir, for its cringeworthy effects and unconvincing performances. Ai no CosmoZone is just a pathetic attempt to recreate the atmosphere of the manga which is not worth discussing any further. After these two failed attempts, the sometimes great Rintaro stepped onto the scene and delivered what would be, to this day, the best adaptation of Hi no Tori.
Hi no Tori: Houou-hen itself near-perfectly captures every element that made the manga so awesome. It recreates the wonderment of the original story as well and the intense feeling you get deep in your gut as you get to the end of this particular part of the manga.
The characters are fantastic, though I would add this caveat: other than the two leads, characters should be considered merely foils or ways to advance the plot. That said, the two leads, Gaou and Akanemaru, are some of the most interesting characters I have come across in years of watching anime and other media. Gaou’s transformation in particular fascinates me (but I won’t talk about it to avoid spoilers).
The art is amazing, although this is perhaps the one part of the movie that does not capture the greatness of the manga, which boasts drawings of the highest quality. One potential reason for me having this problem (other than Rintaro’s slightly worse art direction) was that the only quality I was able to access this relatively obscure film in was quite low in both frame rate and resolution.
Oh boy that synth heavy soundtrack/score really makes the movie. It perfectly captures the atmosphere of the manga and adds elements of mystery, wonder and suspense.
It’s Hi no Tori. of course the story is mindblowing.
Overall a masterpiece for the ages.
40: Overlord Movie: Ple Ple Pleiades
Japanese: 劇場版 オーバーロード ぷれぷれぷれあです
MAL Score: 6.87
Initially aired in theaters. Later released as specials bundled with the Blu-ray and DVD volumes of Overlord Movies 1 and 2.
Japanese: ヘルズ, (ヘルズエンジェルス)
MAL Score: 6.90
Amagane Rinne had an accident and died while hurrying to school. She suddenly arrived in an awkward school… in Hell, filled with demons. While she is struggling and wishing to go back to the world whence she came from, she makes friends with her demon schoolmates and develops an uncommon bond.
The style of hell is very much that cartoony gothic you see in Tim Burton or, to bring a more anime example to the table, Soul Eater, and it’s a style I’m rather fond of. It works well in Hells because they know full well how ridiculous the story is and so ham it up to eleven. Unlike the very crisp and clean animation style of Soul Eater though, Hells goes for a very pencil sketchy look. It’s not something I’m normally a fan of, but Hells pulls it off perfectly. The style goes well with its bonkers hyperactivity and over-indulgence in exaggeration. Its boundless energy is catching, and the art style brings that across perfectly. If you’re watching this anime, you’re watching it for the art style, because that’s where the fun lies. Because you’re probably not going to watch it for the story…
After 45 minutes of this nearly 2 hour movie, I was all ready to call it my anime of the year. The pacing is frantic but coherent and action scene blends in well with calmer scenes. The introduction to the new character’s in Linne’s classroom is hyper and crazy, but you then get a downer scene of her trying to cope with where she has ended up. This is followed by the fight scene with the literally heartless Stealer and the gatekeepers, which flows into plot development and character interaction scenes with the classmates and student council and so on. Each scene has a purpose and moves the relatively simple plot forward.
Then I’m not quite sure what happened, but my guess is the lead writer was eaten by alligators and replaced by some hobo who had gotten through the first few pages of the bible. I don’t really want to spoil events, but suddenly in pops Adam and Eve and Cain and Abel, 3 of which are characters we’ve already been introduced to. There were no hints given earlier on in the story that they were supposed to be these biblical figures. It just randomly decided to attribute these characteristics to each person. Adam is a totally new character who randomly shows up halfway through the movie with absolutely no warning and becomes an important character. Then there’s Mario, whose purpose in the movie I don’t get at all. He’s just some dude who yells a lot. I’m not kidding when I say he probably gets the most screentime out of anyone in the second half of the movie, despite his actions having limited to no effect on the events of the story. If you removed him completely, it wouldn’t really change, except perhaps less shouting and an overall improvement of the quality of the movie.
I’m not necessarily against the plot points in the second half of the movie, and part of me appreciates the audacity of the set pieces and dramatics. I even genuinely liked the ending, in all its cheesy sentimentalism. But a good hour of that movie could be cut down to about 10 minutes. It’s especially exasperating when the plot doesn’t appear to be advancing through all this yelling and self-doubt. The main theme of the movie is meant to be self-doubt, but that doesn’t mean you’ve got to hammer it into our heads over and over again. It’s incredibly frustrating because you can see how this movie could be amazing if it was just an hour long. For as much as I love that Madhouse are willing to give directors such creative freedom with absolutely no prospect for making their money back, there’s a reason you need a strict editor sometimes.
I feel rather conflicted about writing negative stuff about Hells though, because it’s astonishing that it was even made in the first place. It bears many resemblances to Redline in this regard. Madhouse and their utter disregard for making a profit just so they can give directors free reign to experiment. Hells is certainly no Redline, but it’s born from the same kind of production environment. It’s the same place that saw directors like Satoshi Kon and Mamoru Hosada rise up. It will eventually drive Madhouse into the dirt, but for the sake of art I’d love to see them keep trying. Hells may not have worked, but there are flashes of genius here. I was about to say that I’d love to see what this director works on next, but we’ve already seen that. He was brought under the creative branches at JC Staff. That anime in question was Kill Me Baby.
The art seems pretty retro and possibly low budget, also reminding me of Kill La Kill. I wouldn’t say that the art is a weak point in this anime however, because its drawing really fits the theme of this anime superbly, being flexible towards its dark moments as well as its comical moments.
The sound is fair and mediocre. Pretty much nothing bad nor good, just average so you wouldn’t be bothered but neither does it stand out in any way.
The characters are all really interesting when they are first introduced; but as the story moves forward you can feel the lack of significant bonding between characters… a fully fledged TV series would’ve done character development justice. But with what we’re presented here, I rate the characters below average.
My enjoyment personally was really good; the first half of this movie just CAUGHT ME. I was hooked and I loved the interesting concept of a girl who ran into hell unknowingly. The atmosphere was great and the anime kept me thinking about what would happen to our protagonist and would she ever find her way back to her world. However after the first half of the movie, it suddenly becomes very cliche as if the producers gave up half way through. The whole theme flip flops into biblical allusions that seems to have rose from nowhere. This makes it stray away from the ominous tone that the movie initially had going for it. And rather than going for that ominous tone of “Hells”, the movie suddenly starts producing random plot and random character backgrounds for the story and characters.
Overall, if you’re hesitant on watching this movie, I say: don’t try it. This is one movie that I do not recommend. But I will give the movie props for making people hesitant in watching it in the first place. The anime is funny in some areas, but also inspiring in some others. Because of Hells’ comical and witty practicality, my enjoyment is higher than the (bad) story-design itself. Initially, I was intrigued by the unique art and atmosphere of Hells. However, if it doesn’t intrigue you, then I doubt you’re going to find something worth your time in this film.
Thanks for reading ~
On that note, let’s start at what drew me in. The art style in this movie is insane! Far removed from the blander or softer art styles present in most anime, this movie showcases rough outlines and keeps the sketching and coloring lines on its characters. This unique style allows for the designers and animators to go all out in constructing the craziest and loveliest character designs, craft a wonderfully vibrant world in Hell, and play around with the rugged linework and imagery in a way that Mob Psycho 100 would gain notoriety for mastering 8 years later. That being said, the anime still decides to use mediocre CG at times and the animation generally feels tamer than the art style. The film’s probably not as visually explosive as the team at Studio Madhouse could have made. However, it’s still one of the most eye-catching anime I’ve witnessed to date.
The other major draw is the dub. Purists may chant for blood at this, but the fact that several members of the abridging juggernaut brand: TeamFourStar, were contacted by Discotek Media to participate in the dub was explosive. The performances in this film were generally good, and some of the adlibs were as priceless as hearing the likes of LittleKuriboh and KaiserNeko as side characters. All in all, the performances were good enough for this risk to be worthwhile and potentially replicated in the future. After all, given how painfully obscure this film is, they had nothing to lose when taking this chance. The performances eclipse most of the soundtrack, with the only exception being the banger of an end credits theme: “Breathe Again” by Jamosa feat. Sphere.
It feels rather fitting that they decided to take this risk with such an obscure, dumb, loveable anime. This movie’s infectious charm is rivaled by its own absurdity, constantly turning its own rules and world on their heads in a way that’s almost impossible to accept. Its messages of love, self-worth, forgiveness, etc. are deeply intertwined to this mess of a narrative. Nothing makes sense, all rules exist to be broken, and believing is what causes the setting to be created and altered constantly. Caution is thrown to the wind by the characters and the script as things simply happen for aforementioned reasons, and sometimes no known reason at all. It’s all hard to buy. Another reason why it’s so messy is that the film is not just blatant about how it utilizes its themes, but as preachy about them as its characters are violent.
Said characters are generally lacking in any real depth beyond blatantly spelling out their deep-rooted sorrows. Their personalities often range from infectious to grating, and they constantly either stand around for no reason or beat the living shit out of each other. If a film less loveable as this had these qualities, it would be much harder to stomach most of this. However, this is Hells, a brazen, funny, beautiful mess of a film. That means these characters interactions often make up for how weak and shallow they may be upon analysis.
It’s rather fitting that Hells was given this chance. Abandoned by history, this dumb, rambunctious upstart was given a loving license and dub by people who wanted to take a risk and share this with the world. If you like the unique and rough art style, like the kind of humor and writing that the best anime abridgers craft, or like the works of TeamFourStar and would like to see more eventful risks like this in our industry, then please, give this film a shot. It may be a hell of a mess, but it’s one I can’t help but promote. A film as earnest as this deserves all the promotion it can get.
Written and edited by: CodeBlazeFate
Proofread by: Peregrine
38: Overlord Movie: Manner Movie
MAL Score: 6.91
A theater manners short bundled with the recap movie’s BD/DVD releases. Each film had its own short with slight differences (eg. Fushisha no Ou had a smiling Shalltear but the Shikoku no Eiyuu one showed her sneering). Due to the minimal changes between the two, resulting in only a few seconds of alternative footage, MAL will reflect it as a single episode as the blunt majority was identical.
37: Nasu: Andalusia no Natsu
English: Nasu: Summer in Andalusia
Japanese: 茄子 アンダルシアの夏
MAL Score: 7.02
Pepe is a Spanish cyclist competing in an multi-stage Iberian cycling race similar to the Tour de France. He is a support rider for one of the teams competing in the race, and his role is to assist the team’s top rider in winning the overall race. As the story unfolds, the racers are set to ride through Pepe’s home town in Andalusia on the same day as the wedding of his elder brother Angel to his former girlfriend Carmen. Their relationship was a factor in his decision to leave the town to pursue professional cycling, and the wedding is a frustrating reminder that his career hasn’t turned out as he would have liked. Now, with the sponsor planning to drop him from the team and his family and friends cheering him on, Pepe abandons his assigned role and strives for glory.
The movie has three main goals: Sell you on cycling as a sport, sell you on Andalusia as a place, and connect the two together into the main character’s story. On the first two points it does really well. I know nothing about cycling nor any of the tactics that are involved. Like a lot of athletics, I tend to think that there are no tactics beyond just cycle faster than anyone else. Summer in Andalusia definitely sells me on the concept that there’s a lot more going on, between the importance of the following pack and the teamwork involved.
It does all the right tricks to make the concept interesting. Delivering the rules of the race in normal conversations between the characters that also serve as character and world building. Dropping a plot twist 15 minutes after you understand the importance of what just happens, so you get that “oh shit” moment where you realise how dramatic that twist is. By the end, when the characters enter the final straight, you understand the importance of everything so the final few minutes can just be all exhilaration and drama and random references to Didi Senft (google it) and you don’t need characters explaining to you what’s going on. It’s fantastically well paced and well told.
Arguably one place the movie doesn’t do so well is characterising the key rivals in the race. The main character is the only one who seems to have a personality. This isn’t much of an issue because the battle is mostly within the main character’s own mind. It’s all part of this larger theme of the main character trying to escape his family life and Andalusia in general, but coming back and realising he is at home here and fighting that feeling. It’s not as well worked in as the rest of the story, since it leaves it a little too vague by the end and I’m not really sure what the main character achieved. He acknowledges his homeland of Andalusia as not being completely terrible I guess?
The movie does a really good job of selling Andalusia, but when I say that I don’t mean as a wonderful place all the time like Neo-Venezia or something. They actually paint it as a sweltering, barren, near-desert place, but one that the people who live there are really proud of regardless. There’s a lot of attention to detail with the backgrounds and setting the tone of the land. It’s really well directed in general and has the feel and look of a Ghibli movie. This is probably because Summer in Andalusia basically is a Ghibli movie. It’s directed by the animation director of stuff like Princess Mononoke and Spirited Away and is animated almost entirely by Ghibli staff too. Clocking in at barely 45 minutes, it’s over pretty quickly and paced really well. Comes with my firm stamp of recommendation.
Pepe out main character is part of a team that don’t exactly want him any more as he hasn’t performed and are close to firing him spurring him to fight all the way to the end. It’s his home town so there are a lot of supporters cheering him on. His brother is getting married to his ex girlfriend, its stated in the synopsis its his ex but it really only hints at it but its enough to pick up on.
It seems to be based in Spain which is rather unique setting. A lot of it takes place on the road as we follow Pepe in an open almost desert like place and an old pub restaurant place.
The art and animation are brilliant, the characters are always well animated and even when the large group of cyclists are on screen it never lets up and doesn’t resort to using still frames which i believe is often lazy so having great animation helped here. Backgrounds are really well drawn even if not a lot is going on due to the desert like setting, crowds and characters designs are simple but work well.
Sound is another great part, the background music fits perfectly with the accompanying scene and fit perfectly well with the Spanish setting, they use a very Spanish sounding tune, you know the type that is played on acoustic guitars really fast (Flamenco?) im no expert so please excuse me. It just fits perfect as the movie draws towards its climax. Voice actors did a perfect job, i felt everyone did a good job and the acting wasn’t wooden due to a decent script.
Characters are fairly likable. Pepe, although not shown is a struggling professional cyclist, or at least that’s what we can summarize from the fact the sponsor wants to fire him if he can’t do well in this race, he has a past with his brothers new wife and doesn’t seem to happy to see them together but its never played for the drama but used to show how he’s grown. Pepe’s brother seems to have no remorse over ‘stealing’ Carmen his wife but does want Pepe to succeed and always had faith in him. The old man who owns the pub is cool and generally gets everyone in high spirits and is the party maker for a lack of a better description. Everyone else had individual personalities, the guy who works at the pub, the team manager, the sponsor, guy in the wheel chair. They all make up a nice and enjoyable cast of characters.
Nasu is a really enjoyable movie that will have you pumping with excitement as the race end draws closer, his story is well told and we learn plenty despite the short running time and you may even pick up a few cycling rules or even make you want to pick up your bike. Its not a comedy buts its also not a drama and is very light hearted, the doping test is hilarious.
As such, I suppose this isn’t absolutely great as an ‘introduction’… to professional cycling, sure, even those new to it could catch up with some terminology (it’s about five words I ended up searching for, which in comparison to baseball isn’t much at all, although basketball has terminology more intuitive than ‘peloton’; if all one does is ride by oneself then that certainly is an irrelevant definition) – as it happens, also, the sequel has none of this and more characterization, which is why I thought it was an improvement upon this original.
This, though, doesn’t mean the animation itself isn’t ‘strong’… at this point Madhouse had been in the industry for decades already, even though this film is ‘old’ as of this writing… the barren lands, the Spanish terrain… all lend themselves to a certain atmosphere that, when culturally appropriate music is included, really does feel almost like a tourist advertisement or such… it isn’t really that blatant, despite the pseudo-product endorsements which are mostly there for a little comedy, but I’m still not sure if a song literally about the place in the title, which itself is often repeated, comes across as a bit too strong in the negative sense.
The marriage that parallels the race is most of the drama outside of the sport itself, which isn’t much, and not quite as deep as the drama in its sequel which does touch upon some heavy topics. I suppose the marriage is there to provide a reason behind the protagonist’s choice of career, but beyond that there isn’t really much substance behind it (then again, unless it is one’s own marriage, others’ usually lack substance too, but it’s merely a symbolic act at any rate).
I think one could say a certain highlight of the film, despite not saying ‘much’, is… the cat. Well, an interesting diversion, at the very least. Also, one cultural parallel between both films is the eggplant (where ‘Nasu’ comes from), which apparently in Spain is pickled, whereas in Japan it’s dark and spicy.
In my opinion, though, what this film had too much of that the sequel rectified is with its ratio of sport:drama – the drinking of wine, eggplants, even the marriage were all merely minor, side dramas that were never too ‘powerful’ to begin with. There was some comedy, but not too ‘strong’ either… some tinkering with some glasses gadget that reminded me of some Ghibli films, that yet again had some minor comedy and little commentary about the differences between the young and old, but it was kept very much in a corner, kind of like the television they watched the race on, which to the audience isn’t just confined to a television-within-a-television.
But, this is merely my opinion, which I think the sequel improved on… it doesn’t take away from the solid animation or the culturally accurate (I assume) additions to the narrative… this, though, turns out to be more like the real-life versions which usually have no drama outside of the sport itself, than most anime in such a genre (and the slice-of-life aspect is usually what I’m looking for, which the sequel had satisfactorily).
36: Unico: Mahou no Shima e
English: Unico in the Island of Magic
Japanese: ユニコ 魔法の島へ
MAL Score: 7.02
Based on “Unico and the Kingdom of the Sun,” which was newly written as a theater version, this animated film features a battle between the wizard Kukuruku and Unico. Kukuruku builds a castle using dolls transformed from men as building parts. The story revolves around the sorrow and terror of men who have been transfigured into dolls, and a girl named Cherry who wishes to recover the kindness in her brother, who is a student of Kukuruku. This work reminds us of the fact that “transformation” or “transfiguration” – favorite themes of Tezuka Osamu – involves not only material aspects, but also man’s immaterial heart.
(Source: Tezuka Osamu’s Website)
35: Manie-Manie: Meikyuu Monogatari
English: Neo Tokyo
Japanese: Manie-Manie 迷宮物語
MAL Score: 7.05
Manie-Manie: Meikyuu Monogatari is an anthology film composed of three short films by acclaimed directors Rintaro, Yoshiaki Kawajiri, and Katsuhiro Otomo.
While Sachi is searching for her cat, Cicerone, they both fall through a mirror and become trapped in a mysterious, mind-bending labyrinth. They follow a clown’s shadow into the distance, not knowing where it will lead them.
Bob Stone is a reporter working on an article about racer Zack Hugh, the ten-year reigning champion of an extremely popular and deadly automobile race. By the time the two meet, Zack’s body and mind are shells of what they used to be. When the next race starts, Bob observes what happens when both man and machine are pushed to their breaking point, and what it takes to be an enduring champion.
The Order to Stop Construction
Salaryman Tsutomo Sugioka is dispatched into the heart of a dangerous jungle in order to halt a construction project after the foreman’s mysterious disappearance. There, he discovers the deadly and uncontrollable world created by the automated construction robots. When the chief robot is resistant to his orders, Tsutomo must figure out another way to stop the project before his company’s financial losses become too great.
Well, well… what do we have here…
Neo Tokyo is composed of three short films, each one directed by a giant of the anime industry. Since the works are so different from each other, I will comment them separately n_n.
Labyrinth labyrinthos (also known as Manie-Manie), by Rintaro (he participated in such things like Jungle Taitei, Astro Boy, Petshop of Horrors, X/1999 and many other renowned works).
This is the first short, and the most surreal of the three. LL introduces us to Sachi, a girl that, along her cat Cicerone, is sent to a giant maze, after crossing a clock/mirror/portal/whatever. Once in this new world, our protagonist will face strange experiences, and the intensity of the unusual is going to rise to uncanny levels… Fortunately, Sachi’s going to find a guide: a creepy (really creepy) clown. This enigmatic character will lead her to a safer (?) place…
If after reading the previous paragraph you thought that this short was bizarre, just wait to see the characters. Just to say something, Sachi’s pants are so high that they reach her armpits (in what is obviously a hidden tribute to Ed Grimley xD). All the inhabitants of the maze are weird, going from invisible beings to skeletons. The character design is almost cartoonish, being the cat the most detailed one. The rest look a bit too… “curvy” let’s say. Anyway, the animation, although weird, is impeccable (this was done in 1987, but it doesn’t look old at all).
The voices met the expectations. There’s not much of a dialogue to begin with, but they’re good. The music is quite unique, featuring classical pieces such as Gymnopédies and Toreador Song by Georges Bizet! (the guy who made Carmen).
Final comment: well, this thing is weird. Without going to the insane, surreal levels of things like Chocolate Panic Picture Show (though, of course, nothing can be that crazy xD), Labyrinth labyrinthos is a picturesque experience that vaguely remind me Alice in Wonderland. At least from my point of view, in this short you are not supposed to find a purpose, or an answer, but rather enjoy the ride. Each step Sachi and Cicerone take, there’s a surprise waiting. Whether striking, bizarre or horrifying, we want to know what’s next, and what’s at the end of the maze. And as a final point, we could say that this short and the other two are slightly connected, despite being three separate works. You’ll see why n_n.
Running Man, by Yoshiaki Kawajiri (involved in things like Legend of the Galactic Heroes: My Conquest Is the Sea of Stars, Mirai Shounen Conan, Tetsuwan Birdy and many others).
Luckily, RM is simpler to explain than LL. In a futuristic world, where races to death (kinda similar to the game Wipeout) are the favorite betting event, Zach “Grim Reaper” Hughes is the best competitor, undefeated for almost ten years, and once again is participating with the idea of destroying his rivals. Zach’s secret: telekinetic powers, which he use to crush his competitors.
Well, RM is nothing like the others shorts in Neo Tokyo. Here everything is more serious, the character design is more realistic, and deaths, explosion and agony are pretty common here. Visually, is the best thing in this movie/compilation.
The sound, like in the case of LL, is good. There isn’t much dialogue, or music, or anything, but that’s the way it’s supposed to be.
Final comment: Although this short may sound simple, there are several things to consider. Running Man is not presented in order: is a series of flashbacks interspersed with the present. This can be quite confusing, and it may be necessary to watch it more than once to fully understand what’s happening. Not that the story is complex (quite the opposite, the idea is pretty simple), is just that is set in a disorderly way.
The Order to Stop Construction, by Katsuhiro Otomo (he did Akira. There’s nothing else i should say).
In a near future, revolution (or better say, LA REVOLUCIÓN!) hits the fictional South American country of Aloana. With the change of command, a japanese construction company received the order the cessation of activities in that country. Receiving no response from the foreman of the construction, the company sends Tsutomu Sugioka, a common employee, with the mission to find what happened to his predecessor, and inform the workers (all of them robots) of the current situation. Tsutomu tries to reason with 444-1, the robot that was left in charge of the work, asking him to dismantle all the structures and machines in the most efficient way, so a big sum of money can be saved, but everything this artificial being have in mind is finish the construction. At all cost.
The Order is not as visually spectacular as Running Man, but it definitely is excellent. Featuring a great combination of nature and technology, the construction is huge and incredibly detailed. All the robots follow a similar graphic pattern, but all of them are different from each other, being the 444-1 the most detailed one, and the one that changes the most along the film. Tsutomu has buck teeth xD, but he’s fine. He really looks the way he acts. He’s a nerd, but he tries really hard to fulfill his mission.
The sound… well in this work, there’s talking. All the robot’s voices sound the same way: robotized xD. Tsutomu is an angry little man, and his seiyuu give him an irritated and sometimes high-pitched voice, so good work there. And, like in LL, we have a classical piece here: Morning Mood, by Edvard Grieg (gentleman who also did In the Hall of the Mountain King).
Final comment: I can’t say that this is Neo Tokyo’s best short, but it definitely is my favorite (aw, screw it, this is the best :D). Much more direct and easier to understand than the other two, the story of The Order is just great, full of intrigue and tension, and a few twists every now and then (and all that in less than 15 minutes!). Also, this is one of many works that leaves us a valuable lesson about over-reliance that we have with technology.
Final comment (the global one): Neo Tokyo is a very interesting compilation. Each short has different things to offer, so there are high chances that not everyone likes them same way, but is that variety that makes NT a production suitable for a wide range of people (instead of being just recommendable for those who likes shonens, shojo, sci fi, horror, or any specific genre).
I recommend this to… everyone reading this. For me, The Order makes all this worth it, but you, Mr. reader, you can find compelling any of the three short, it’s on you.
Anyways, thx for the reading, and please give a chance to Neo Tokyo.
Bueno… que es lo que tenemos aquí…
Neo Tokyo está compuesta por tres cortos, cada uno dirigido por un gigante de la industria. Dado que las historias son tan distintas, voy a tener que comentarlas por separado n_n.
Labyrinth labyrinthos (o Manie-Manie), de Rintaro (tal vez lo conozcan, participo en series como Jungle Taitei, Astro Boy, Petshop of Horrors, X/1999, y mil cosas mas…)
El primer corto, y el más surrealista de los tres. LL nos muestra a Sachi, una niña que, junto a su gato Cicerone, se internan en un laberinto luego de atravesar un reloj/espejo/portal. Una vez en el nuevo mundo, nuestros protagonistas vivirán experiencias extrañas, y la intensidad de lo raro subirá a niveles impensados… por suerte, Sachi encuentra un guía: un payaso vestido de blanco que, francamente, es bastante macabro. Como sea, este enigmático personaje los conducirá a un lugar mas… ¿seguro?
Si el planteo de este corto les parece bizarro, deberían ver a los personajes. Los pantalones de Sachi le llegan casi a las axilas, en lo que parece ser un homenaje a Ed Grimley. Todos los habitantes del laberinto son extraños, pasando desde seres invisibles a esqueletos. El diseño de personajes es bien caricaturesco, siendo el gato la excepción (se ve más detallado que el resto). Como sea, la animación, si bien rara, es impecable.
Las voces cumplen. La verdad, no hay mucho dialogo, pero no tengo quejas. La música es bien peculiar, presentando piezas clásicas como Gymnopédies y Toreador Song, de Georges Bizet! (el tipo que hizo Carmen).
Comentario final: Wow, esta cosa es rara. Sin llegar a los niveles de locura de cosas como Chocolate Panic Picture Show (aunque claro, nada llega a esos niveles de locura xD), Labyrinth labyrinthos es una experiencia pintoresca que me recuerda de forma vaga a Alicia en el país de las maravillas. Al menos desde mi punto de vista, en este corto no hay que buscar mucho sentido, o una respuesta, sino más bien disfrutar el viaje. Por que a cada paso que dan Sachi y Cicerone, hay una sorpresa esperando. Ya sea llamativa, bizarra o espeluznante, queremos saber qué es lo que sigue, y que es lo que hay al final del laberinto. Y como dato final, se podría decir que este corto y los otros dos están levemente conectados, a pesar de ser tres trabajos independientes. Ya verán porque n_n.
Running Man, de Yoshiaki Kawajiri (sujeto involucrado en cosas como Legend of the Galactic Heroes: My Conquest Is the Sea of Stars, Mirai Shounen Conan, Tetsuwan Birdy, y otras muchas).
Por suerte, RM es más simple de explicar que LL. En un mundo futurista, donde las carreras a muerte (para que se hagan una idea, es muy similar al juego Wipeout) son el evento favorito de los apostadores, Zach “Grim Reaper” Huges es el mejor corredor de la historia, multi-campeón invicto por casi diez años, y está participando una vez más con la idea de destrozar a sus rivales. El secreto de Zach: poderes telequineticos, con los que destruye a la competencia.
Bueno, RM no se parece en nada a sus compañeros de Neo-Tokyo. Acá todo es más serio, el diseño de personajes es bastante realista, y se ven muertes, explosiones y agonía bastante seguido. Visualmente, es lo mejor que hay en esta película.
El sonido, al igual que con LL, cumple. No tengo nada destacable que decir al respecto.
Comentario final: a pesar de que este cortó pueda parecer sencillo por lo que escribí, hay varios detalles a tener en cuenta. Running Man no está presentada de forma cronológica: es una sucesión de flashbacks que se intercalan con el presente. Esto puede ser bastante confuso, y probablemente sea necesario ver la película más de una vez para entender bien que es lo que pasa. No es que la historia sea compleja (todo lo contrario), simplemente está planteada de forma desordenada.
The Order to Stop Construction, de Katsuhiro Otomo (el tipo hizo Akira. No hace falta embellecer más su curriculum)
En un futuro no muy lejano, en el ficticio país Sudamericano de Aloana estallo un golpe de estado. Con el cambio de mandos, una empresa de construcción japonesa recibe la orden del cese de las actividades en dicho país. Al no recibir respuestas del capataz de la obra, la empresa envía a Tsutomu Sugioka, un empleado común, con la misión de averiguar que paso con su predecesor, además de informarle a los trabajadores (todos ellos robots) de la situación actual. Tsutomu quiere razonar con 444-1, el robot que quedo a cargo de la obra, pidiéndole que desmantele todo de forma eficiente para minimizar las pérdidas económicas, pero lo único que tiene en mente este individuo artificial es terminar la construcción. A toda costa.
The Order no es tan espectacular visualmente como Running Man, pero decididamente es excelente. Presentando una muy buena combinación de naturaleza con tecnología, la obra es monumental, increíblemente grande y detallada. Los robots, aunque siguen un patrón similar, son muy distintos unos de otros, siendo el 444-1 el más detallado, y el que más varia a lo largo de la película. Tsutomu tiene dientes de conejo xD, pero por lo demás está bien. Es un nerd, pero se esfuerza en serio para cumplir con su cometido.
El sonido… bueno, a diferencia de los otros dos cortos, acá si se habla. Todos los robots suenan igual: robotizados xD. Tsutomu es un hombrecito irritado, y su seiyuu se comporto a la altura, dotándolo de una vos a veces irritante, con un ocasional timbre agudo. Y al igual que con LL, acá también tenemos una pieza clásica: Morning Mood, de Edvar Grieg (señor que también hizo In the Hall of the Mountain King).
Comentario final: No puedo decir que TOtSC sea el mejor corto de Neo Tokyo, pero decididamente es mi favorito. Mucho más directa y fácil de entender que los otros dos, la historia de The Order es simplemente genial, llena de intriga y tensión, además de los varios giros que va dando la trama (y todo eso en menos de 15 minutos!). Además, esta es otra de las tantas obras que nos deja una moraleja acerca de la dependencia excesiva que tenemos con la tecnología.
Comentario final global: Neo Tokyo es un compilado muy interesante. Cada corto tiene cosas distintas que ofrecer, por lo que es probable que no todos gusten de la misma forma, pero es esa misma variedad lo que hace de Neo Tokyo una producción recomendable para un amplio espectro de personas (en lugar de ser solo recomendable para los que les gusten los shonen, o los shojo, o la ciencia ficción, el horror…).
Recomiendo esto a… todo el que me está leyendo n_n. Para mí, The Order hace que ver esto valga la pena, pero usted, señor lector, puede encontrar atrapante cualquiera de los tres cortos, está en usted.
Gracias por leer, y por favor, denle a Neo Tokyo una oportunidad! (en serio, no sé por qué tan poca gente vio esto. Será falta de publicidad? Si es por eso, acabo de contribuir a la solución del problema xD).
The first segment is “Labyrinth labyrinthos” by Rintarō about a young girl named Sachi trapped in a game of hide-and-seek with her cat Cicerone and her search leads her to a longcase clock that doubles as an entry to the labyrinth world. It also serves as the ‘top-level’ story or a framing device that leading to the following segments.
The second segment shown is “The Running Man” by Yoshiaki Kawajiri that takes place in a futuristic world where people race to the death (although this have appeared in movies in numerous times) and one of the best is Zack “Grim Reaper” Hughes, remaining undefeated for 10 years but how does he keep winning for so long? He was telekinetic powers to vanquish his competition.
The final segment is “The Order to Stop Construction” or “Construction Suspension Order” by Katsuhiro Ōtomo where a revolution in the fictional country of the Aloana Republic has resulted into having newer government installed but refuses to accept a contract and the company sent down salaryman Tsutomu Sugioka to stop production but as it turns out the work is fully automated and won’t stop to any cause.
If I have to pick one of these shorts to be a favorite of mine, it would have to be “The Running Man”, mainly because I can notice some of Kawajiri’s traits of realistic designs of the characters, the deaths among with the element of agonizing pain and misery. While having the power to stop your opponent can make you one of the most notorious racers ever known, having that isn’t going to last forever. “The Order to Stop Construction” while having an excellent detail of the combination of nature & tech, which all the praise goes to Ōtomo but it’s not what I call the best. The only human character in here just seems like the pushover dork that should’ve known better than to accept something that could get him killed. “Labyrinth labyrinthos” is a very simple story of entering another world as a child and it is a visual marvel but it’s nothing glorious about it.
The animation here is done by……well, damn, MADHOUSE and this is a title made in 1987 and it does retain its vintage looks much like any anime made in the 1980s. It has aged very well throughout the years ahead of its existence. However, on the voices and I rarely go on about voice acting but the Streamline Pictures dub is really lackluster, but consider back then, awful English dubs did exist back then and it really shows how awful it is, it’s not 4Kids awful but Streamline Pictures don’t even try to make it sound good, especially on the dub of Akira (for future references, Yes, I rather prefer the Pioneer/Geneon dub to Akira rather than the Streamline dub. Excuse me while I get my shields and beating stick.) The music is composed of Western classical music: the first of Erik Satie’s Gymnopédies and the “Toreador Song” of Georges Bizet’s Carmen in “Labyrinth” and “Morning Mood” from Edvard Grieg’s Peer Gynt score, in an ironic manner, in “The Order” in addition to original music by Mickie Yoshino.
FINAL VERDICT: It’s a fairly well-done anime that has many visual and storytelling contributions from three different directors/screenwriters. Aside from the bad dub, it’s something I would recommend if you want to explore something different than the usual.
Towards all three parts, the art and design is phenomenal, the first in particular containing some of the best in anime. The first part, titled “Labyrinth Labyrinthos”, is a lot like “Cat Soup” for those who’ve seen it. It features wildly imaginative scenery and imagery. It also relates itself to a constant darker theme with plenty of psychological visuals. There’s some fabulous animation in this piece and those who want a good experience, or to appreciate under-the-influence animation, should definitely come here for the great start. The sound is also fantastic and builds an engaging atmosphere that will take all focus and attention. There wasn’t really any music besides a bit of carnival noise, but the sound design is again some of the best. However, this part doesn’t come without flaws or without the potential to have been better. I found “Cat Soup” to be more of a masterpiece, even though the visuals here are a bit better quality, because there seemed to be more variation in the possible meaning it carried. Labyrinth Labrinthos didn’t appear to carry much of anything to me, personally, and felt more like somewhat of a transition material to continue with the next two parts. As I appreciate illogical experiences a lot, it comes with a feeling that, without a story, meaning can still fill that missing sensation that would be felt without either. With barely anything to fill that gap, Labyrinth Labrinthos feels incomplete. Even so, it was a masterpiece of directing and design. There’s also a lot of creepy clown imagery for those who can’t handle it, but it would really take a lot for anime to scare.
After the first part, I feared that the rest of this collection wouldn’t succeed to the same level as the first piece. The second part now transitioned into something with a tad more plot and story to it. It would still be untrue to say that the second piece, titled “Running Man”, was less of an experience though. Infact, Running Man held about as much of an impactful experience as Labyrinth Labrinthos did. It took its own style of art and animation, while still keeping the dark look. It also did perfected sound work to match the depth of the atmosphere of the first, also coming up with a premise that had a bit of literal understanding to it. In that way Running Man part-way filled the gap Labyrinth Labrinthos couldn’t with a bit of story, but it still didn’t feel entirely satisfying in how it was carried out. The setting itself was nice and really fit the title of “Neo Tokyo” well. It takes a futuristic, deadly race setting and mixes a stylish amount of noir fashion in its inhabitants along with some detailed design-work in the technology. The art is good too, but not quite to the level of the first piece. While there is a lot of impressive moments, there are quite a bit of repetitive scenes and moments that will re-use frames. I usually wouldn’t mention things of that nature, but it felt a tad too common here when considering the time length and the amount of body shaking going on (which reuses frames) and more still shots. Even so, the repetitive nature of it does increase the emotion of the experience in making it one of the most intense anime I’ve witnessed. However, this is a bit more of an experience than the first part, as how it is designed isn’t too re-watch friendly. It’s more of a one-timer, with maybe a bit of enjoyment from a re-watch after some time. That is mainly due to the issues again with the story. There is definitely a premise and something is knowingly happening in Running Man (being the race), but there is also some supernatural elements going on that really are what’s taking the front of attention. These elements aren’t explained in the slightest, only leaving one to try and guess at what could have happened. It felt that there might have been some meaning involved while watching it, but it really just felt more like visual art with the goal of creating a unique atmosphere (much like the first part). So, again the story and explanation is the cripple from feeling justified in giving this part the acclaim it could have received.
The third part, titled “The Order to Stop Construction”, then moves in carrying the greatest focus on story of the bunch, with still some attention to atmosphere. The first thing that will likely come to one’s mind when it starts is the animation style, making one know without-a-doubt who the art director was. That would be Katsuhiro Otomo, the man behind Akira. This looks exactly the same as that, down to the movements of the technology (which again make this piece fit with the title of “Neo Tokyo”) and just about everything to the characters. There is some really interesting direction with music and visuals here, with a more superior handling of repetition to build the atmosphere. There isn’t as much reusing of cels, but more rebuilding the cels and creating new, while still similar, scenes. The story was understandable this time around, and the main character had a purpose and a personality. The setting was still interesting, but a tad too unbelievable to take the story too seriously. Even though it is hard to take it completely seriously, the atmosphere isn’t hampered too much by that. The environment creates something that appears like a technological jungle where the machines are living and growing off of themselves. The main character is done well and his reactions and emotions to what is occurring around him develop in an interesting way, him slowly turning mad along with the illogical and surreal technological environment he is forced to work in. One small gripe to being entirely satisfied with the story though would be the ending. It does present the character’s madness well in a way that can make the viewer understand the ending, but a bit more time added to showing it would’ve helped in making the end not feel as blunt. Overall, The Order to Stop Construction definitely fits along Otomo’s other works.
Of the three parts of Neo Tokyo, The Order to Stop Construction felt as the most complete experience with the most amount of time put into the atmosphere, direction, and the story. However, as the main aspect of Neo Tokyo seemed to be its visuals, Labyrinth Labyrinthos will be the most memorable of the bunch. That would be due to its excelling imagination and intriguing style. The director who I haven’t heard of ’til now, Rintaro, is someone to keep attention on and I’ll be prioritizing viewing his other works. Neo Tokyo has heavy strengths in its visuals and sound that create some captivating experiences, but its weakness is its lack of meaning and logical understanding. Its goal is to be seen as an art-house, and that should be the main expectation when deciding to view this. For the short length of forty minutes total, there shouldn’t be much excuse to not wanting to see this though. It’s a recommended viewing for just about everyone in the anime community that has some patience or attention to atmosphere, but it isn’t quite a masterpiece. It would be great to have more stuff like this created in present time, but experience-heavy content like this seems to be becoming less popular. Even so, there’s plenty of stuff that already exists out there that can be viewed for those types of people. Also, as a final note, it’s recommended to watch Neo Tokyo in a dark room with not too many distractions. That will bring the most enjoyment.
34: Kimi no Koe wo Todoketai
English: Your Voice -KIMIKOE-
MAL Score: 7.05
The story focuses on high school girl Nagisa Yukiai who lives in a seaside town. She has believed her grandmother’s story that spirits dwell in words and they are called “kotodama” (word spirit). One day, she strays into a mini FM station that has not been used for years. As an impulse of the moment, she tries to talk like a DJ using the facility. But her voice accidentally broadcasted reaches someone she has never expected.
Kimikoe is what I call a slice of life mess. It’s a 90 minutes long life story which simply said contains too much, yet doesn’t really even know what it is supposed to be about.
Nagisa, our main character is apparently a lacrosse player. If you don’t know what lacrosse is, it is a sport which is practically the combination of softball and floorball which is played outdoors on a field similar to american football. This, like pretty much everything else in the movie, is completely irrelevant. The writing is on real thin ice. It’s fairly similar to ‘Sora yori mo Tooi Basho’ except there is no adventure in this one. Apparently, all of this is just an excuse anyway because the only real purpose why this movie exists is the drama.
Nagisa seems to be some sort of emotionally unstable girl whose past story doesn’t give us much more info about her other than she used to cry as a child and misses her grandma, and all sort of non- butterfly-and-rainbows level stuff happens to her until she finds out what real friendship is. It’s quite hard to find any sort of emotional connection to her and what she is “going through” simply because she randomly goes to random places and random things occur without there being any sense to any of it nor any single believable reason for her to do anything she is doing. The storytelling is presented in a way where viewers just randomly discover new factors that pop out, assumably the actual story was written similarly. Just random ideas thrown here and there because they wanted this movie to be “something more” but really it just became “less”.
Production-wise, this movie doesn’t achieve much. When it comes to the art and sounds, the character design distantly reminds me of ‘Hourou Musuko’ which is the nro 1 reason why I even watched this movie. The seiyuu cast contains some big names, but Nagisa herself is casted by someone whose crying scenes and acting convey zero emotions and zero characteristics. Outside this, there isn’t anything worth of noting.
As a conclusion, I didn’t especially enjoy watching this movie. It was just very dull and felt both: pointless and amateurish. The fans of ‘Sora yori mo Tooi Basho’ might stll find it worth of their time because they are rather similar overall and made by Madhouse.
The story has way too many characters, and thus most of them remain largely undeveloped. Their personalities and roles can be described in a single sentence. Heck, the girl with the pigtails seems to serve absolutely no purpose aside of serving cookies to the others and being shy. The plot itself also seems to go in way too many directions for its own good, attempting to juggle numerous plot threads at once (just to name a few: the comatose mother in the hospital, the estranged childhood friends, the amateur radio station, the main protagonist’s plans for the future), but ultimately not giving most of them the time and attention they deserve.
The art style is… let’s say minimalistic. It was hard to tell at times whether I was watching a series or an actual film; if this actually had a significantly bigger budget compared to you everyday anime, they didn’t do much with it. It surprises me, because I tend to associate the Madhouse studio with higher quality.
That said, the film is not at all unwatchable. It’s more like a “cute trainwreck”; the overall message and content is generally fun and heartwarming, but behind it all seems to hide a one-cour series or OVA that would have had enough room to do this concept justice, and which never actually got made.
But let’s start from the scratch. I was really looking forward to seeing this after reading the synopsis, which seemed a bit inovative compared to all other slice of lifes. I expected a story about how broadcasting can change lives of a lot of people and I thought the movie is gonna focus on the bigger picture. In this case, on all the people that can get to listen to our main heroine’s voice. Did that happen? Sadly not.
The movie itself starts off almost the same way as every nowadays movie does. It’s end of the year, summer vacation are coming and our presented friends are planning on what to do. However, on her way home, Nagisa, our main heroine, stumbles upon an abandoned café. She tries to explore it and finds an old radio station. She can’t resist and makes her very first broadcast. Sadly, that’s where things start going down.
Not down in the matter of quality, but in the matter of how is the story presented. Until now, even if only in details, a lot of things seemed a bit original compared to others. The girls are playing lacrosse, Nagisa does a lot of personal things like shouting her problems into a ringing bell and, of course, the plot is about broadcasting. Honestly, was this idea ever even used as a main plot device? Even if yes, you can’t but say that it sounds interesting.
However, what the movie does is, instead of focusing on the broadcasting itself, it goes down to the classic cute girls slice of life. Nagisa is maybe the main heroine, but in about the third of the movie, membership of the “radio club” suddenly jumps up from two to six. And with that, the plot losses a lot of it’s originality. It doesn’t feel like something impactful anymore, it seriously feels like just another school club setup, which wasn’t the case early on, and shouldn’t have been the case even later on, if you ask me.
The characters themselves, while having decent chemistry, act in a very generic matter. We have the maid-like girl who serves café and says dumb things. We have the Tsunderish aggresive type that always wants to compete with her childhood friend even though she’s better at everything. Then there’s the obsessive girl, and the always calm one. You see, I don’t tend to brag about originality all that often. However, this movie really doesn’t do a very good job at making characters diverse. Or original, for this matter.
A big problem that relates with the characters not being top-notch comes up when they want you to feel for them. Actually, talking about emotions, the whole movie doesn’t do a particulary good job at making you care when it matters. For the most part, it’s pacing is quite good. However, there are about two or three moments which drastically change the set tone just in order to make the characters shed some tears. Not only these moments feel indredibly forced, it also damages the impact of the last minutes, which, looking from todays perspective, was the only time tears were supposed to pour.
Also, while it’s almost a necessity to end up a slice of life in a happy matter, this whole movie was one of the most straight-forward I’ve ever had the pleasure of seeing. That in itself isn’t really that big of a problem. However, I have a hard time not critisising the movie for it’s predictability when I could literally picture the ending scene 10 minutes after it all started.
Art is, on the other hand, an area in which the movie pleasantly suprised me. Every scene looks very clean, polished, some of the background shots were borderline beautiful. Even moments that tend to be very sloppy, like bike riding, were animated in a respectful manner and added to the fact that is all is very nice to look at. Sound was OK.
I took this review from the negative side of things more often than not, but please, don’t let it mislead you! Kimi no Koe wo Todoketai is definetly not a bad movie. Just a one that ended up a bit bellow my expectations. And that has to affect my rating in one way or another, no matter how much I wanted to love it.
33: Tenjou Tenge: The Past Chapter
English: TenjhoTenge: The Past Chapter
Japanese: 天上天下 THE PAST CHAPTER
MAL Score: 7.06
Mitsuomi Takayanagi and Maya Natsume both want to become stronger. On there way to becoming the best they learn that there are many things going on behind the scenes, and Shin, Maya’s brother, may be the cause of all of it. Mitsuomi feels that he is the only one that can stop him. A retelling of what happened in the past of tenjou tenge, in movie form.
And as such, there is no new content like new fights and characters. To cut back the time, a lot of conversations have been skipped. I don’t know how this is for newcomers to the series (I have watched all the episodes), but I can imagine it not making a 100% sense.
There has been no quality improvement compared to the series and OVA.
All in all, I suggest not watching this before you watch the series. Also, watching it right after having watched the series is quite pointless. The way I watched it, after a long time of no Tenjou Tenge, is probably the best. The score you would give this arc in the series apply for this movie.
If you end up watching this, enjoy.
32: Ohoshi-sama no Rail
English: Rail of the Star: A True Story of Children
MAL Score: 7.06
This is the autobiographic tale of Kobayashi Chitose, a young Japanese girl growing up in a Japanese-occupied North Korea. As World War II progresses, Chitose begins to realize that her family will not be able to escape the effects of the conflict. From the simple disappointment of not being able to get the type of backpack she wants for school, to her father’s recruitment as a soldier, the war begins to impact her life in a very real manner. But the end of the war does not mean the end of hardship for her. The Koreans, fed up with years of Japanese rule and persecution, have joined forces with a Chinese-backed communist government and are systematically making life a living horror for the Japanese left in North Korea. Fearing reprisal since he was a Japanese veteran, Chitose’s father risks everything to get his family out of the north and to the US-occupied area south of the 38th parallel.
• The story begins, with the protagonist (a little girl named Chitose) experiencing life as a normal child, but as the war gets more intense, she begins to notice that all isn’t right in the world. She notices a male student getting bullied for refusing to change his name to a Japanese surname*. He talks about how horrible the Japanese are, Chitose is shocked by this since she has no idea (as a Japanese child in elementary school) how terribly mistreated the Koreans are by Japanese troops. Her Korean classmate then joins the Korean Liberation Army and gets murdered by Japanese troops, when he tries to fight them off at the border. Another instance of this is when Koreans are cheering in the street, after Japanese has lost the war, and Chitose can’t comprehend it. Her father has to explain to her that it’s because ‘their prisoners are being set free.’
* The sōshi-kaimei (name-changing) edict is later turned on its head toward the end of the film, when Chitose’s family has to hide that they are Japanese and speak only Korean—while they’re fleeing the country.
• Later, the Korean housekeeper (a teenage girl, named Ohana) is sewing a patch into Chitose’s Shōwa-era set of trousers and she accidentally leaves the needle in, Chitose carelessly slips them on and the needle gets lodged really deep in her body. After surgery, the doctor says that the accident could have been fatal and after Chitose’s younger sister had already passed away, Ohana is abruptly fired. Later, Chitose is out walking with her mother and she sees Ohana working at a brothel. In her childhood, she obviously had no idea about sex work but the atmosphere in the film is so dense that it implies that Chitose can somehow sense that her former babysitter was in a bad situation. I teared up at this scene because the implications of a kind girl, like Ohana, being forced to work as a comfort woman was so cruel. At the end of the film, Chitose is an adult but stilly harbors guilt for what happened to Ohana—after receiving flowers, following her live theater performance as an adult, Chitose suspects that they are from Ohana and screams her name outside, in a crowded Tokyo street.
• Ohana’s fate correlates to the entire theme of the film: unpredictable circumstances can lead us to ruin. As citizens, we are often punished by our government’s decisions to go to war and persecute other innocent civilians. Chitose’s father was a solider for the Imperial Japanese army, but the film brings up the question of ‘was that really his choice?’ Ohana is punished for something that was an accident and then has to live in a tortuous situation for years, until the Japanese troops are driven out of the country. Chitose and her family lose their home in Korea because Japanese forces stole that land—far before Chitose’s family was ever stationed there (Korean land was usurped in 1906 and Chitose’s story begins in 1941), so they are yet again having to suffer for an ‘original sin’ that was committed decades ago.
• Japanese families, that include Japanese children and the elderly, were forced to flee the country on foot, or else be killed by Russian troops. After the Japanese pilgrimage, a Korean man offers to help them. The elder of the village, then asks the man, ‘Are you sure? They took your son and you don’t know if he’s even still alive.’ The man still agrees to help, understanding that a group’s evils shouldn’t mean that individuals should have to suffer. That man’s kindness and understanding made him an exemplar, in this film’s cruel premise.
• This story has a unique perspective. Before I completed the movie, I had never thought about what it would be like to occupy another country, after your homeland had lost the war. Not mention the guilt you would have to bear, knowing your people are the oppressors. Truly, a powerful movie!
• The animation wasn’t the greatest and the film had pacing issues during the scenes that involved the forced immigration of the Japanese characters, but I really liked the character designs. They are like a blend of Chibi Maruko-chan and Isao Takahata’s Only Yesterday, Chibi Maruko-chan is a successor to this film, so it’s probable that it was influenced by the designs (round, mochi-like faces with rosy cheeks). Some of the facial expressions that Chitose made during this film were heart-breaking, not to mention the feeling of resignation that was conveyed through her parents’ emotional articulations.
• This film is ground-breaking! I recommend this to anyone who has an interest in history, particularly Shōwa-era Japanese and Korean history. It’s a touching film, from an objective child’s perspective, it allows for more understanding in the controversial topic of Japanese-Korean relations. I give this film a solid 6.5/10!
1. In the beginning of the film, Chitose’s family were able to procure a home because after Japan conquered Korea—Japanese troops required all citizens of Korea to provide deeds and documentation, proof of their land ownership. During that period, many Korean land owners had procured their estates through word of mouth, so many people lost their homes.
2. During one of the classroom scenes, Japanese students are bullying a Korean kid for keeping his given name, instead of switching to a Japanese surname. The film doesn’t directly talk about this, but this is a reference to sōshi-kaimei—an ordinance of law, put into place by Imperialist Japan, that pressured all Koreans to legally change their names.
3. When Korean deserters attempted to escape in the movie, many of them—including Chitose’s classmate, was shot down by Japanese troops when they attempted to escape to China. Korea’s exiled resistance was called the Korean Liberation Army (formed December 10th, 1941) and the escapees, who made it to China, would go on to form the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea—this providence is now referred to as North Korea.
4. Ohana was forced to become a comfort women, after losing her job working for the family. Comfort women were impoverished Korean women who were forced into prostitution and sex slavery, and specifically were formed to serve Imperialist troops.
5. Korean citizens were cheering at the end of World War II because many Koreans had been taken to mainland Japan for forced labor, and would subsequently be returned after the war.
6. Russian troops were mentioned as co-occupants during the last arc because before Japan predominantly took control of Korean resources; in February 11th, 1896, the tsar of Russia had governed Korea for a year after (Queen Min, a high profile leader in Korea) was assassinated by Japanese troops. During Russia’s occupation, the Independence Club (a group of Korean activists) attempted to gain more Western influence, particularly through Russia, to counterbalance the growing influence of Japan in their country. This led to the Russo-Japanese war. At the end of the film, when Japan loses World War II, Russia helps Korean drive the remaining Japanese occupants out. This is emblematic of Korea’s eventual independence through Western assistance.
About the story: We got a few main protagonists, but the most screentime I guess was spend on chiko a young girl whos father leads a coal mine in Korean( propably to support the war). Chiko also got a younger sister and a mother. The start of the show focused more on the time during the war and wanted to show the suffering of the Korean and the torture the Japanese inflicted onto them, but since its on the one had a movie for children and on the other hand on the Japanese side the whole “toture” part is limited to a few Japanese kids beating up a Korean kid. So the start was rather showing the kids play to create a emotional connection to the audience, which wasnt made that bad, but aslo not very suprisingly in any way.
Later on we see the end of the war (Korean celebrating) and the gloomy Japanese which know that they should go back to their homeland as soon as possible. It’s a typical for such a show to let the Russian military appeal to the audience as the “bad guys” and the Japanese refugees appeal cute (chiko) innocent and “good”. For me this representation is pretty naïve but like I said before since that movies target group seemed to be children it’s kinda logical to go that way.
The characters itself were a pretty poor part of the anime as well. There wasn’t any depth to any of the characters. Chiko was maybe the only one with a bit more depth, but she was just a plain kid, not much to go into anyways. The other characters where shallow, shown with only the typical character interaction between them for such a show.
The art wasn’t much outstanding but it wasn’t bad. It looks like a children movie with cute characters and it’s a bit older as well.
Soundtrack was ordinary, not much to say about it. There were some nice dramaparts followed by fitting music but that’s just normal.
So over all this movie isn’t very special. The premise was quite interesting but the movie overall was filled with only very few consequences, no mature storytelling and no depth into characters. If you are completely into these war dramas it is watchable, but it’s not recommended for getting into these kinds of movies.
English: The Fantastic Adventures Of Unico
MAL Score: 7.14
Unico the Unicorn has the amazing power to make anyone he meets happy. Whether it’s because of his personality or the powers of his horn, no one knows. However, the gods become jealous of Unico, thinking that only gods should be able to decide or let people be happy or not. Unico is banished to the Hill of Oblivion, and the West Wind is ordered to take him there. She can’t stand giving this fate to an innocent like Unico, so Unico’s adventures begin, as the West Wind takes him from one place and time to the next, in a neverending journey to escape the wrath of the gods. In this adventure, Unico meets Beezel a devil child and then Katy (Chao), a cat who wants to be a witch! Can he become friends with them?
I decided to watch this movie on a whim, expecting nothing of it, and I was pleasantly surprised, particularly by the first 30 minutes of the film. After the absolutely adorable opening song, Unico is sent away to a wasteland. The lonely, cold atmosphere really got to me, and seeing Unico, the beacon of happiness and hope, pull through and turn the selfish, temperamental devil Akuma into a charmingly awkward friend was really inspirational.
Sadly, the rest of the movie is much more average and not well-constructed. The second character Unico meets on his journeys is Chao the cat, a far less charming friend than Akuma. She stays a boring ditz the whole movie, not really learning much from Unico.
The villain, while totally fearsome and creepy (mostly due to excellent visual design), really detracts from what the film could have been. He has no depth and is defeated without any emotional fanfare. While his battle with Unico might be visually grandiose, there is nothing of substance here.
I really did enjoy the bittersweet ending, though. Unico’s curse, bringing happiness to all, but never being able to stay with his friends, is tragic but meaningful to me. The plot and pacing are really unfocused for most of the film, leading to plenty of interesting themes…that are completely underutilized.
Still, I really admire how atmospheric and interesting the visuals are in Unico. The sheer scale of important figures like the West Wind, the Night Wind and the villain is immediately apparent with their distinct designs that look great animated. Unico is literally the most adorable character on the planet. The whole package oozes creativity.
I should also mention that while this is technically a children’s film, I wouldn’t recommend it for really young ones. There’s plenty of violence and dark atmosphere, a very imposing big bad, not to mention subtle rapey undertones.
Unico has a lot of problems, but its heart and creativity push it into the 7/10 territory for me. On a bad day, maybe 6/10. I recommend it to anyone who’s a sucker for this power of friendship type of stuff and wants to see some fun art and animation. There are much worse things you can spend your time on.
The music is very cute and the art is nicely done.
The fight scene towards the end of the movie was crazy and vibrant in color. The fight scene remind me of the dragon fight in sleeping beauty.
I would of liked to see Unico meet more people. but the two he did meet were both good. I liked the cat and her naïve. It drove the plot forward and caused good character development and was taught a good lesson about kindness. The demon Unico meets learns about friendship and how to be a good friend. Kid movies should have morals like these in them.
The west and winter winds are good plot devices, which can be use to continue the story indefinitely. Remember that this movie as a sequel.
30: Mai Mai Shinko to Sennen no Mahou
English: Mai-Mai Miracle
MAL Score: 7.22
The story is set in 1955 in Kokuga, Hofu City, Yamaguchi Prefecture.
One thousand years ago it was the site of the ancient capital, Suo no Kuni, and traces of the Heian Period (year 794-1185) are passed down to us in the form of ruins and historical place names.
The protagonist is Shinko, a third grade elementary school student, who was born and raised in one of the town’s venerable families. She is a little girl whose characteristic is a strange curl on her forehead (she calls it her “Mai Mai”), and her love for playing in the fields. On the other hand, her secret joy is to imagine and to daydream about the world of one thousand years ago. Her fantasies travel far into the days of the Heian Period…
One day, a girl called Kiiko transfers from Tokyo and enters Shinko’s class. This girl from the big city has difficulty feeling at home in this small town, but gradually her friendship with Shinko deepens.
Before long, the two of them become engulfed in a strange incident of one thousand years earlier…?!
A simple but wonderfully executed story of a countryside girl and her everyday fun adventure. Well people have said it has a typical ghibli atmosphere but its definitely not a copy. The taking of the movie has its own distinct way of keeping you engaged in watching further.
Story [10/10]: Shinko, the main protagonist, who imagines all kinds of people and places based on her grandfather’s stories of 1000 years ago, meets Kiiko who has comes from Tokyo and who is attending the same schol as Shinko. Quickly due to her appearance and the coloured pencils Kiiko has all other kids in the class become curious. So does Shinko. She follows Kiiko to her home where she sees all kinds of foregin objects and is quiet fascinated. Their freindship develops. Shinko tells Kiiko about the how the countryside they are living in used to be a capital a thousand years ago (which her grandfather has told her about). Shinko also tells her that she believes there was a princess, about her age only, who lived in this country. She wants to meet her to play with her. This is were the alternate story begins. The princess in the story is lonely and wants someone to play with. From what I understood from the story the princesses feelings somehow reach Shinko. And maybe that is why Shinko to is able to imagine what kind of a girl the princess could have been and where and how she might have been living. From there follow the little games that Shinko, Kiiko and their school friends have. To sum it all the sotry ends with both Shinko and the princess in the alternate stories finding their best friend. The story has a very rich base plot, being set in a countryside and of a historical date. So lots of space for innovation with the characters. And it has been very well executed in the direction.
Art [8/10]: The landscapes are beautifully drawn. They aptly bring out the beauty of the countryside and the overall atmosphere. Though the charatcres could have been a bit better drawn. But overall they definitely have a good impact on the viewer.
Sound [9/10]: Background music is typical of a childrens movie in a good way ofcourse. Voice of Shinko could have been better if it had been a little more girlish and sounding of her actual age. The current voice sounds like that of a tomboyish girl (which Shinko is kind of) which issometimes a bit annoying.
Character [10/10]: Loved the way all the characters have been portrayed. The runny nose boy, other classmates, teacher, Shinko’s grandfather, mother- watching everyone makes you believe that they are actually typical countryside people.
Enjoyment [10/10]: Enjoyed the movie thoroughly.
Overall [9/10] I deduce 1 mark only for a bit of disappointing voice for Shinko and the art of the characters themselves. Other than that its a perfect score on the story. Just go and watch *thumbs up*
Despite the popularity of his foray into action, he’s mainly a Ghibli-esque storyteller with the majority of his resume being family friendly stuff that contain very familiar plot points to those who’ve watched Castle in the Sky or Future Boy Conan. And by the majority of his resume, I mean his three other anime (one series and two movies) that no one even knows exists, because he’s not actually associated with Ghibli bar assistant work on Kiki’s Delivery Service, and it’s not like their are many other options in terms of anime studios with Disney-levels of success willing to throw the amount of money and resources needed to properly get his name out there. Even though he’s now under contract by Mappa to make a movie adaptation of the historical manga, In This Corner of the World, the combination of a not-very-popular manga and Mappa not being able to appeal to the mainstream crowd in terms of blu-ray sales makes it hard to secure funds for the project and I’m not even all that sure it’ll come out in 2016 like MAL says it will. I really hope it does though, because it looks like a solid historical drama.
Anyways, this review is centered on Mai Mai Miracle, his lesser known 2009 film with Madhouse that can basically be summarized as his own version of Ghibli’s more slice-of-life-y affairs like My Neighbor Totoro and Only Yesterday. And by his own version, I mean a slice-of-life anime centered on the countryside with an increased focus on realism and, ironically, an increased amount of diabetes.
The story is centered on Shinko, an elementary-school girl with a cowlick on her head that she calls “Mai Mai” – hence the title of the film – who likes to daydream about what her town was like in the past, reminiscent of the dream sequence from Whisper of the Heart if it was channeling Air: The Motion Picture. One day, a Tokyo girl named Kiiko moves into the countryside and immediately stands out due to wearing what’s basically the equivalent of royal clothing in the middle of Somalia, resulting in the fish-out-of-water nervousness you’d expect from such a situation. But that doesn’t stop Shinko from befriending her, and from then on, we follow the two as they hang out with the other kids, deal with personal problems, and even share the same daydream – although trust me when I say it doesn’t really lead to anything of significance.
It’s pretty damn easy to see why Mai Mai Miracle never drew a big audience considering that it itself draws most of its appeal from showcasing countryside life as well as the tribulations of youth passed through a giant “it’s for kids” filter. Hell, apart from Madhouse’s production values, I’m not really big into the movie myself. The story leans a wee too hard on nostalgia and the calmer parts of youth in general to the point that it’s like an Eternal Sonata-level JRPG: it can be fun to actually experience the thing, but watching someone else do it is about as interesting as watching grass grow. And it doesn’t help that not all the plot points come together very well to begin with. Aside from being friends, the plot point regarding a girl’s dead fish could not be any less related to the plot point involving one of the boys’ role models dying.
At its heart, Mai Mai Miracle is about reality clashing with youth, but because it’s a kids’ movie, it can’t go all the way with it. There’s a particular scene in the finale where Shinko and one of her male friends go to a red-light district for reasons I won’t spoil other than it involves the death of a minor character. And whilst it’s aesthetically rough on the surface from the prostitutes to the yakuza, said scene ends with the crooks they encounter sympathizing with the kids and allowing them to go free. Not that I’d want anything worse to occur from said confrontation because I don’t like seeing people that young getting put through the ringer and another one of the movie’s main points is that reality isn’t all bad anyways, but it’s a very good example of how Mai Mai Miracle doesn’t have the bite I prefer when it comes to these types of stories. Even American Graffiti had more of an edge in regards to its take on reality versus youth – and whilst it was good for its time, American Graffiti is kind of plain by today’s standards.
But of course, if you’re watching this for the visuals, you’re in for a treat. I wasn’t kidding when I said Madhouse’s production values interest me, because Mai Mai Miracle really does a good job at nailing the calm atmosphere it’s going for with its imaginative dream sequences and lush cinematography, even if said atmosphere isn’t too my taste. This is a beautiful-looking movie with an appropriately soothing soundtrack that complements it pretty damn well. They even throw in a kiddy version of The Carpenters’ “Sing a Song” into the mix, which got a smile out of me. I may come off as a sap for saying this, but I really like that song. It’s cute in all the right ways.
For those of you who like slice-of-life/light-hearted anime, Mai Mai Miracle should definitely be right up your alley, as I can’t seem to find many faults in the product for lovers of the genre. But then again, I wouldn’t know how to separate your Arias from your Dog Days, so what do I know? Nevertheless, whilst some of the plot points could have been handled better, it has a genuinely heartwarming and relevant story that’s good for its target audience, it’s well-made, and the characters are likable enough as well – acting close to real kids during the time period this movie takes place in. Doesn’t appeal to me personally, but then again, I’m the asshole who thinks Azumanga Daioh became boring eight episodes in. At best!
There isn’t any one central conflict to string the story along, but the characters learn to make friends, express themselves, and admire their prolific ancestors who once made the land a mighty cultural center. An imagined story of an ancient princess runs parallel to the lives of the characters as they must struggle with issues like death and abusive fathers. The story isn’t a tragedy, however, as the kids must simply learn to deal with reality and see the best in things and in each other.
Mai Mai Shinko draws obvious comparison to My Neighbor Totoro, with two young female main characters, the rural Japanese setting and predictably a little sister getting lost along the way, but unlike a typical Ghibli film, Madhouse has strayed away from the fantastic, restricting it to the minds of the children. It still draws recommendations from Ghibli fans, and anyone who wants to reminisce about their energetic childhoods.
29: Hunter x Hunter Movie 1: Phantom Rouge
Japanese: 劇場版 HUNTER×HUNTER 緋色の幻影（ファントム ルージュ）
MAL Score: 7.25
After completing their work at Yorknew City, Leorio Paladiknight and Kurapika investigate the rumored sightings of a boy with scarlet red eyes, as they believe this person to be a member of the now non-existent Kurta Clan. Kurapika hopes to find another survivor of the clan besides himself, but instead ends up losing both his eyes after an attack from someone who seems to be his childhood friend.
Leorio tends to Kurapika’s wounds, and then sends for both Gon Freecss and Killua Zoldyck to help retrieve Kurapika’s eyeballs. However, their search brings them face-to-face with the infamous group of thieves known as Phantom Troupe—the same people who massacred the entire Kurta Clan five years ago for their scarlet eyes, which change color during moments of rage.
Hunter x Hunter Movie 1: Phantom Rouge follows the boys’ quest to locate their friend’s eyes and catch the thief, causing them to delve deep into Phantom Troupe’s past. And in doing so, they encounter a mysterious girl who appears to be linked to it all…
Hunter x Hunter: Phantom Rouge is about everything which Hunter x Hunter isn’t. The story is about this puppeteer who makes puppets based to real people, copying their appearance. Ironically, our main characters Kurapika, Kil, Gon and Leorio also feel like puppets, empty shells, in this movie. All of their personalities have been changed, and all former character development seen in the anime has been turned back to zero + little extra taken away. Not only are they completely different characters, they have been turned into a bunch of weak idiots as well. I don’t bother talking nor spoiling anything about the characters since this anime clearly doesn’t have any.
The events were most likely written by a 5-year-old retarded frog-squirrel. The writing is utterly based to coincidences. The characters teleport to each others location all the fucking time. Not literally, but the explanation given could be replaced with the following; “How I got here? Oh, I teleported.” And the story would still make sense equally much. Bad guys got beaten by the power of friendship. Motherfucker. Or alternatively with the help of teleporting former villains. The fights are ridiculous and completely lacking brains. You could as well replace the attacks with a bitchslap contest and it would make tactically as much sense.
The animation looks ridiculous. The fights are executed with light effects. They also had to use some shitty cgi to make fish fly and look lame. Mostly to look lame. The art is also different, but this isn’t HxH anyway, so I don’t have to complain. The sounds are made with a no fricking sense whatsoever. There is a scene where Gon and Killua have to sneak so that one character doesn’t notice them. And what did the sound director do? Insert footstep-voices so loud that even my neighbor can the hear the bass. I mean, seriously? No, seriously? This isn’t even funny.
Well, I did enjoy few things in this. The references around eyes and main villain’s sense for family. That’s literally the few. The pacing was also neato as these 1.5hours went pretty fast. I wouldn’t recommend this to anyone who can’t bear with out of character behavior, nor anyone else either, unless you die to hear more about Kurapika.
The movie itself is called Hunter x Hunter: Phantom Rouge. It is a side story rather than a prequel/sequel. For those who have seen the original series though (at least up to episode 58), there should be enough interest already because the series deals with what the synopsis mentions – the Phantom Troupe. In particular, a young boy with golden hair and scarlet eyes (Kurapika) plays the role of an avenger. He still holds a blood thirsty vengeance against the spiders. However at the same time, he seeks answers to what’s happening in the present. It is also noticeable that the movie takes events after the actual Yorknew Arc from the original/remake series. Therefore, expect some surprises as we see old faces return but also new characters pop up.
As for the movie goes, it offers a good balance of comedy and more of that darkness. In terms of comedy, perhaps the brotherly bond of Gon and Killua are the most noticeable. In fact, it is very clear that they share a strong friendship despite coming from very different backgrounds. Gon was raised from a normal family while the latter comes from a family of elite assassins. On the other hand, we also see a more in-depth past of Kurapika. His brotherly bond with a new character in the series can be mirrored with Gon/Killua. In essence, both of their relationships are tied by trust with great values. Additionally, they are even joined together by a new comrade along the way. It’s an adventure tale all over again and one that fans of HxH must see.
The plot itself follows as the premise goes although with certain twists. For instance, we see the Phantom Troupe return but in a different way especially in regards of a particular character. Then, there’s also the story involving Kurapika and his old teammate whom he once trusted with his life. There are plenty of foreshadowing going on. In particular, some of the little important scenes are shot with more depth in term of music and artwork. Then, there’s some of the intertwined arcs where our main characters gets involved with events related to the spiders. They encounter familiar faces while also facing off against a new threat.
Epic is also misused word. If I would used the word epic, I would describe the majority of the movie as such whether it’s from the fights, the dialogues, the comedy/darkness, or just a mere character. However, this movie can be summed up with such a single word at several stances. The action scenes are pretty fluid. Most of the are quick paced that combines both physical and psychological aspects. That’s also one of the strong points in Hunter x Hunter. The franchise makes usage of the fights to incorporate it into more of a psychological mind game at many instances. In this movie, these mind games comes to fruition especially into the head of Killua. The concept of vengeance, betrayal, and struggle are packaged together that brings out the entertainment at its finest. Even the Phantom Troupe tastes some of that in particular of a member whom once shared a strong bond with.
Despite of the action scenes being well performed, some of them are a bit too quick paced and old fashioned. It would have been better to see some new techniques from the Phantom Troupe but most of them are still what they are. Perhaps it’s because they are in a different form that they lack their true power. But at any rate, it’s nice to see some of them back again in action mode.
As for characterization goes, the main characters make their stance and presence well known. Obviously, the main focus of the film focuses on Kurapika but it’s also nice to see Killua and his side shine when he faces his struggles. Then of course, Hisoka makes his stances with the way he talks and walks. Furthermore, we even see Leorio playing more of a direct role. Considering his lesser screen time during the Yorknew Arc, it’s actually refreshing to see his character shine more so. Indeed, the four main characters functions well as a team and together, they take on any challenge they face together.
Visual wise, the series maintains its composure and balance just as well as the remake of Hunter x Hunter. The beautiful landscapes and cities are designed to give off that adventure like feeling. The Phantom Troupe displays their ferocity with their stances. Then, there’s are the comedic and lighter toned artwork during the more humorous scenes. As even more so, a particular character gets dressed different for the first time in a way they feel different. The artwork makes the movie somewhat memorable although nothing spectacular. It doesn’t incorporate the usage of CGI so expect fluid scenes but again, nothing considered a masterpiece in the arts department.
As for the soundtrack, Hunter x Hunter have been criticized in the past before for its orchestra. In this movie, it reuses some of the OST from the remake. However, it does fit within the series quite well. The VA who plays their roles in this series also did their job well. In particular, Hisoka and Retz’s voice tones should be praised for their performance especially for the latter. Considering Retz’s gender, the voice of its character must seem to be ambiguous and Hirano Aya portrayed her part quite well. The overall OST is above average but not earth-shattering by technical standards.
All in all, Hunter x Hunter Phantom Rouge is a gift for the fans. Obviously, this gift can be opened and enjoyed by different standards. For me though, I was quite satisfied with the results. If you’re a fan of the Yorknew Arc, this is definitely something to keep an eye on. The way it incorporates the usage of its characters again show that the A-class band of thieves is still around. At the time of this movie was being aired, the Yorknew Arc was just reaching its conclusion but we still can’t forget about the spiders, can we?
1. Even though the movie is out of the scrapped chapter made by the mangaka Togashi, the movie has successfully made it seem connected to the show.
2. The setting and plot starts after Yorkshin Arc but before Greed Island Arc.
3. IF YOU JUST WANT TO WATCH IT TO KNOW ABOUT THE BENEFITS I WILL MENTION LATER, you better just read the manga’s special chapter for Kurapika, it’s more complete. Just research about Phantom Troupe #4 Omokage if you’re interested. And just continue watching the series.
STORY: It’s somehow acceptable but lacks excitement and very little to expect.
ART: Same as usual. Some skills like Chrollo’s Indoor Fish used higher quality graphics but it feels like the one in the TV series is better.
SOUND: They use the same as what they use in TV series.
CHARACTER: Their personality is being exaggerated or less firm than in the TV series.
ENJOYMENT: I leave the decision to you after you read everything I think here.
1. The movie features the past of Kurapika. But I could say only 99%.
2. The movie features the Phantom Troupe member #4, the one replaced by Hisoka.
1. The rest of the plot seems to be dry.
2. Killua’s personality sufferings is there but it seems to be not the Killua you know. I think you better watch Chimera Ant Arc of Hunter X Hunter 2011 if you wanna see the real Killua.
3. Gon in the entire anime and manga series is shown as someone who gets fired up especially when he has a hard time fighting but in the movie, you can barely see this fire.
4. You don’t have something to expect about the other Phantom Troupe.
This might not have passed the standards of fans out there including myself, but I’ll still look forward for the 2nd movie “Hunter X Hunter: The Last Mission”. Hunter X Hunter 2011 series still continues to give us the thrill and the art of fighting with strategies and also the emotional meaning of life. So let’s still continue supporting Hunter X Hunter 2011.
28: Hunter x Hunter Movie 2: The Last Mission
Japanese: 劇場版 HUNTERxHUNTER THE LAST MISSION
MAL Score: 7.25
Nen: the hidden source of energy and potential that runs through everyone, and gives those that master it a source of great power. Inside Nen is the potential for limitless light and limitless darkness. The Hunter Association has arisen to control access to it. Hunters come in many shapes and forms, and with many different appetites – but all of them have learned to master Nen, and use it to chase wealth, power, and their dreams.
The greatest and most powerful Hunter is Isaac Netero, chairman of the Hunter Association. Decades ago he sealed away Jed, a Hunter who had mastered the use of On, the dark “shadow” of Nen. Now On users have reappeared at the Heaven’s Arena “Battle Olympia” tournament. For Netero, this is the last mission: to protect the Association and the world from a threat driven by hatred and the thirst for revenge. And he’s going to need all the help he can get in order to succeed.
A plot that centers around revenge is not a new concept in Hunter x Hunter. Two of its main characters have had revenge as a motivation during at least one point in the original anime series. However, their revenge tales are interesting and even novel at times. Although the plot of The Last Mission is even reminiscent of Kurapika’s journey for vengeance, the execution of the three original character’s revenge is simple and predictable. It is so simple that it can even be described in one sentence. With no specific spoilers, the plot of The Last Mission is that everyone in Heaven’s Arena and Netero are taken hostage by four people; therefore, while the protagonists try to free the captives, they each encounter an enemy tailored for them to battle which they eventually defeat with some casualties, and that casualty is what causes Gon to fight against the final boss. Considering this setup, how do you suppose the final showdown will progress? Hint: if you have seen any other battle shounen movies such as Naruto, Bleach, or Inuyasha, just take one of their final battles and there you go, it’s almost exactly the same as The Last Mission’s.
Even with many characters making a return in The Last Mission, their presence is heavily muted because of the movie’s attempt to develop its new characters. While trying to characterize new characters is important, the movie takes a typical route of giving them a brief, melancholy flashback and a protagonist that sympathizes with them in order to make their actions justifiable. This standard and lazy characterization creates little attachment and development to the characters, causing them to have a textbook feel and minimal depth. Even when returning characters were on-screen, their actions are warped in order to suit the plot’s need and there is little reminder that in the original television series, they actually have a personality and are properly characterized.
The art and animation of the movie is lackluster. Shading is often nonexistent, thus giving characters and backgrounds a flat look. The characters were also sloppy drawn with considerably less detail. Even the animation leaves much to be desired. Not much continuous and fluid motion is shown. While battles take place in interesting locations, the lack of fluid movement and the subpar art create battles with little impact or grandeur.
The Last Mission had the ingredients it needed in order to be compelling. However, Madhouse’s lack of fervor shows through the movie’s mediocre art and animation. And without Togashi as the writer, even the characters that the audience have become attached to cannot hold an uninspired plot and standard characters afloat.
Simply put, Hunter x Hunter: The Last Mission was not woven together with magic. Now whether magic is needed in order for you to enjoy the movie is up to you. But those who hope to be enticed by the magic that the television series was endowed with will be disappointed.
Like most anime movies based on a running TV series, the trailer and the first five minutes of the film is unfortunately better than the rest of the film.
A lot of your favorite characters and some current characters in the arc will make an appearance, but most importantly you hope the film will reveal some interesting information about the Hunter x Hunter universe that the TV show didn’t get a chance to show.
Well if you were expecting for anything like that, then turn away fast because you will be very disappointed.
The story is about the return of the bitter cofounder of the Hunter association and “On” user Jed, who seeks to eradicate every Nen user in the world because he was defeated by Netero in the past.
So he comes back with three naive children with a poorly explored background story and a bunch of mindless prisoners he brainwashed to kidnap Netero.
The rest of the film follows Gon, Killua, and Kurapika fighting Jed’s underlings with occasional cutscenes from the antagonists explaining why they hate the Hunter Association so much.
Apart from Gon, the main characters weren’t acting like their usual self from the TV show.
Gon was still a peacekeeper who wants to protect everything in his sight. Killua was acting like Gon’s bitch (literally), Kurapika was acting like an emo, and I honestly don’t know why they listed Leorio as a main character in the film because I seriously felt like some of the supporting characters got more screentime than him.
As for Hisoka, I assume he was placed in the film so he could appear in the trailer to generate more revenue for the greedy producers. It was fun to see his spiderman skills, but really he does nothing in the film other than make some obvious remarks.
The animation was not very good. Some of the faces and body seem distorted sometimes, but the colors were sharp and you could see what is happening in the dark. This was good because a lot of the fights occur in the dark.
Most of the soundtracks (if not all) were borrowed the series, I didn’t pay too much attention to the background music because of all the action going on.
I honestly think the story could have been a good arc in the anime provided they expanded on the characters and this “On” business.
Since the TV show is about to end, I do not recommend you watch this immediately because in all honestly you are going to feel like you just watched a Naruto movie. Wait a few months and when you feel you want to see some “refreshing” Hunter x Hunter material apart from the TV show, grab this, but lower your expectations.
To start off this review, I’ll let you know that I am a huge fan of the series, but this movie was on the disappointing side. The plot is set around somewhere after the Greed Island arc and the beginning of the Chimera Ant arc after both our protagonists Gon and Killua have met up with Kite and take a detour from their journey to visit the Heaven’s Arena to cheer on for their friend Zushi, who’s taking part in the fight. Whilst they’re on it 4 mysterious group of people enter the arena to fulfill their ulterior motive; The demise of all the Hunters with the use of “On” which is exactly the opposite side of “Nen” and which derives it powers from pure hatred.
While the premise of the movie is not put together to be quite a blockbuster ride, it does set up an intriguing following.
The characters are all and the same except for our new 4 antagonists who are trying to kill the Hunters once and for all. They are not worth remembering for a long time as well, like Omokage from the first Hunter x Hunter movie. The little girl from the 4 villains has no character development at all and we are left with absolutely nothing regarding to her past only besides that they all were refugees once who escaped from the Hunters who were trying to cleanse their Shadow Clan.
Considering the art, this was the most disappointing factor of the movie. While nowhere near being appalling, it was very, very bad compared to the TV series. You’d expect better with all the budget put into the franchise.
All in all the movie doesn’t leave you satisfied a lot. If you had watched this after completing the series it makes it all the more displeasing. It does not have the charm and excitement as its series and it’s just an average installment. But on the other side it does have some pros as well. It does well with the premise it’s given and doesn’t do anything reckless from its timeline and that doesn’t have any effect on the original series at all, meaning you won’t miss anything if you watch it after you finish the series.
To end it I’d say this was the least pleasing movie of the two and the franchise combined. But it’s not completely horrible and still a lot of fun to watch if you’re a Hunter x Hunter fan.
27: Tibet Inu Monogatari
English: The Tibetan Dog
MAL Score: 7.28
After the death of his mother, Tenzin decided to leave town to live with his father in the Tibetan grasslands. Life is tough at first, until one day the young man witnesses a fight between Tibetan guard dogs and a dog with golden hairs outside the pack.
I was interested in this movie since I am a Tibetan myself, so I watched it with my family yesterday.
Nothing really new, just the same tale of a lad meeting a dog that changes his life. It was interesting that there was a “devil” killing many people though
The art style reminds me of a Ghibli film. It’s charming and approachable. I also really think the landscapes were especially well designed
It was alright. Had some traditional Tibetan music but nothing really else. The VA’s were decent
The characters were decent as well.
It was fun seeing all the Tibetan cultural references. My parents were very happy about how they captured the life of a Tibetan nomad and were able to present it this well in the movie.
A good movie to watch with your family. I would definitely recommend this.
Score: 8.3/10 (rounded to 8/10)
For anime the setting is original as takes place in the mountains of Tibet. The PLOT is engaging as it follows a young boy who moves to the Tibetan countryside following the death of his mother. As he struggles to fit in to his new way of life and the relationship with his father he befriends a mountain dog. ART, The landscapes of Tibet are beautifully draw while the CHARACTERS are distinctive and origina and provide an insight in to Tibetan lifel. OVERALL I really enjoyed this film and would recommend it to anyone.
Now onto the story, overall it was a pretty realistic story, we got a bond between a dog and Tenzin. Halfway through the movie the realism slowly fades away as the big evil appears, without having any purpose for being evil. The setup for certain things were great, such as showing the strained relation between Tenzin and his dad, but we never delved much into these as they are either left open or never told at all. There are also some nice moments where we see some bonding between dogs but also between the dog and Tenzin.
We got a wide variarity of characters. While this may sound good, it is in my opinion not fully fleshed out. At the start of the movie we clearly see Tenzin and his dad acting like complete strangers where big evil suddenly appears we never delve much further into this. The bond of our main dog and Tenzin felt a bit short despite them having grown a great relation where they would risk their lives for each other. We also got some bandits who were just temporary evil.
The animation for this movie was really impressive, nice scenery fitting the naritive, the characters are all unique despite their being so many. This definitely holds up to modern standards.
If you love movies about dogs, then this is definitely a movie for you. I you want a realistic movie without any fantasy creatures, then I must warn you that there will be one in this movie. Overall I must say this was a good movie, it had it’s wholesome moments.
26: Cardcaptor Sakura: Kero-chan ni Omakase!
MAL Score: 7.33
Following the events of Cardcaptor Sakura Movie 2: The Sealed Card, Kero and Spinel share a plate of takoyaki (octopus balls). They get into a fight over who gets the last piece, and in the process send it flying out the window. They both chase the takoyaki, and each other, in a mighty effort to be the “takoyaki captor”.
I also appreciated the chance to see a bit more of Spinel. I never thought Eriol’s familiars got enough screentime to be full characters in the main series.
This is a great short.
The story is simple, the art is consistent with what everyone has come to expect from the team working on Cardcaptor Sakura, the sound is fair, and it makes for a fun little romp.
About my only complaint would be that I wasn’t particularly fond of the music choices, but that’s just my opinion.
25: Hadashi no Gen 2
English: Barefoot Gen 2
Japanese: はだしのゲン ２
MAL Score: 7.35
Three years have passed since the bombing of Hiroshima and Gen is now a fourth-grader. Hiroshima is still a ruin, and Gen must scrounge for scrap metal to help keep himself and his remaining family fed, but at least commerce has returned to the land. As his mother gradually grows ill from radiation sickness, Gen and Ryuta befriend a group of orphans led by a tough-nosed older child and including a girl who still bears ugly burn scars from the day of the bomb. An old man suffering from depression is also drawn into the group as they come together to support each other and form a makeshift family. Reality is still harsh, however, as many orphans still die lonely deaths and the grim reminders of what happened linger everywhere.
Barefoot Gen talked about the bombing in Hiroshima, but in Barefoot Gen 2, it talks about the effects of the bombing known as “pika”, in which it causes that person to have cancer, getting intestines broken and die. It also gives a message of hope to the audience through the eyes of Gen in this movie and the scene where he learns the words that his dad taught him 3 years ago is incredibly heartfelt in the end of the movie.
The animation and music in Barefoot Gen 2 is much more improved. Madhouse gave it a nice colorful upgrade to the art style and it shows with better fluid character models and better background art than the original. Music is less corny and more subtle in the film with tracks ranging from happy to sad to just depressing as hell. The Japanese voice acting is improved and the new voice actor that plays Gen was excellent in his performance and also, no sh*tty dub to ruin this film unlike the original Barefoot Gen English dub that almost ruined the film for me.
Overall, while not as good as the orignal, Barefoot Gen 2 still manages to be a damn good sequel, with all the heartbreaking emotions that the original had in this sequel.
Overall an enjoyable sequel with similar levels of tension to that of the predecessor but lacks some originaility and had some reused elements.
24: Ningen Shikkaku: Director’s Cut-ban
Japanese: 人間失格 ディレクターズカット版
MAL Score: 7.50
A theatrical film version of Madhouse’s Aoi Bungaku Series anime. The film will re-edit the four episodes based on Osamu Dazai’s No Longer Human (Ningen Shikkaku) novel, which have character designs inspired by manga artist and novel illustrator Takeshi Obata. This “director’s cut” will include new “navigation” footage which is being created specifically for the film with narrator Masato Sakai.
23: Wakaokami wa Shougakusei! Movie
English: Okko’s Inn
Japanese: 映画 若おかみは小学生！
MAL Score: 7.51
After losing her parents in a car accident, Okko goes to live in the countryside with her grandmother, who runs a traditional Japanese inn built on top of an ancient spring said to have healing waters. While she goes about her chores and prepares to become the inn’s next caretaker, Okko discovers there are ghosts who live there that only she can see – not scary ghosts, but playful child ghosts who keep her company and help her feel less lonely. A sign outside says the spring welcomes all and will reject none, and this is soon put to the test as a string of new guests challenge Okko’s ability to be a gracious host. But ultimately Okko discovers that dedicating herself to the happiness of others becomes the key to taking care of herself.
(Source: Animation is Film Festival)
Before seeing it, I wasn’t all that interested in the film. I entered a giveaway for free tickets on social media just for the sake of it, so when I actually won, I decided to take my little sister with me to at least let her have a fun experience watching a kid’s movie with me. I wasn’t expecting anything special.
I was wrong.
12-year-old Oriko “Okko” Seki is visiting a festival in the countryside when she gets in an accident, and tragedy strikes. Now having recovered from her physical injuries, Okko must now go to live with her grandmother, who runs a traditional Japanese inn nearby. There she meets the spirit of a young boy, and together with others she meets along the way she works to learn all she can about caring for guests and resultantly bringing herself personal happiness in this beautiful depiction of healing, death, and rebirth.
I very much enjoyed the story, and couldn’t find any flaws with it. The animation overall looked very good, with a few minor flaws such as too much of a sheen being added to Okko’s hair at points, as well as one or two shots with a momentarily choppy framerate. The colors are nice and vibrant, and do a very good job immersing you along with the well placed soundtrack, which was well composed. All of the mostly non-secondary characters have a lot of personality to them, and(excuse the irony here) are three dimensional, every one of them feels like real people.
Despite being rated G, Okko’s Inn deals with heavy topics such as PTSD and moving on after loss, and it does so extremely well, while keeping the tone mostly light. As someone who can be pretty empathetic when watching films, I cried when watching this. You may not cry(or even tear up, you monster), but I can guarantee that throughout most of the film, you’ll have a big smile on your face. I know I did.
I highly recommend this film(my sister enjoyed it a lot as well, in case you were wondering).
TLDR If you liked the movie, you should definitely give the show a try. It’s not as flashy, but it’s happier and should cheer you up if you were depressed by the movie’s ending. Also more Matsuki.
The main character of this tale is Oriko Seki (aka Okko), a 12-year-old girl who is tragically orphaned within the first five minutes when her parents’ car crashes into a derailed truck while traveling home from a performance. Miraculously surviving this incident, Okko is subsequently sent to stay with her grandmother, who happens to be the proprietor of an inn in the countryside. The inn in question, which doubles as a hot springs house, goes by the name of Harunoya, with a philosophy that all are welcome.
Naturally, it does take Okko some time to get settled into this new establishment. She is befriended by three ghosts — two of which are children who passed away years ago: the spunky but friendly Uribo, and the sassy, mischievous Miyo — and a pesky “demon” known as Suzuki. With encouragement from these three (invisible to all but the little girl), Okko aspires to be a “junior innkeeper”. Predictably, she starts off on the clumsy side and makes some poor calls of judgment, but gradually gets better, learning lessons about selflessness and valuing life. Over the course of Okko’s coming of age journey, we meet a variety of other characters, among them a sullen teenage boy, a friendly fortune teller called Glory Suriyo (who takes her on a memorable shopping trip), and a bratty rival junior innkeeper named Matsuki, who treats Okko contemptuously at every opportunity. Of course, at the major core of the story is Okko coming to terms with the fact that her mother and father are no longer with her.
A lot of this movie’s subject feels strikingly similar to Hiroyuki Okra’s A LETTER TO MOMO, as well as numerous other animated tearjerkers such as MY NEIGHBOR TOTORO, COCO, and KUBO AND THE TWO STRINGS, but OKKO’S INN manages to carve out its own niche thanks primarily to its plucky cast of characters. Okko is an easily relatable protagonist, and her similarly likable ghost buddies provide moments of gentle humor without treading into “annoying” territory. Only Matsuki comes across as downright unsympathetic — at least for a good majority of the film — until we find out that she, too, has troubles of her own. (As you might expect, the ending is a bit of a tearjerker, but not so much that it makes the movie downright depressing.)
In lesser hands, this tale could potentially tread into draggy territory. Thankfully, Kosaka keeps an energetic pace throughout all 96 minutes, making even the more quieter, slower moments flow without draining interest. That said, there are a couple of moments when the development of some moments feels a bit hasty, notably in the handling of Matsuki’s character. Some additional scenes where we get to see her being nicer would have been welcomed, but that’s honestly my only complaint.
Despite being directed by a Ghibli veteran, OKKO’S INN was animated at Madhouse Studios, whose output has ranged from gritty productions like NINJA SCROLL and PERFECT BLUE, to somber, friendlier stuff such as THE GIRL WHO LEAPT THROUGH TIME. If you’re not familiar with this studio, these works you may have been fortunate to see. OKKO’S INN, naturally, being among the more softer offerings of this studio, has a predictably sunny, beautiful look to it. There is a digital sort of look to the animation, but it still offers the sort of warmth that hand-drawn craft is usually known for. On occasion there are uses of computer images, but thankfully they don’t stand out in all the wrong ways.
I went to see the dubbed version, provided by NYAV Post. It’s yet another quality effort, with terrific performances by all involved. Madigan Kacmar does an outstanding job as Okko, providing the character with just the right amount of warmth, spunk, and heart. She has terrific chemistry with K.J. Aikens’ somewhat smart-alecky but lovable Uribo as well as her other co-stars. Carly Williams’ Matsuki is as snarky and prissy as you’d expect, while Tessa Frascogna’s Miyo and Colleen O’Shaughnessy’s Suzuki complete the trio of ghost companions for Okko. Glynis Eliis is also great as Okko’s grandmother. NYAV Post has turned out excellent work lately, notably in the form of of big hitters such as A SILENT VOICE, MIRAI, and even the flawed, forgettable FIREWORKS. It’s gratifying to see them continue to live up to their standards here.
There have been a lot of great contenders for emotionally resonant animated features from Japan lately. OKKO’S INN may be among the lesser known of them, but it certainly deserves a following. If you ever decide to check out this charmer, I highly would recommend doing so.
MAL Score: 7.53
In the great city of Metropolis, severe community structures and prejudice dominate a world where humans and robots live together. Unrest and violence increase with each new day.
Searching for the scientist Dr. Laughton, suspected to violate human rights by trading organs, the Japanese detective Shunsaku Ban and his nephew Kenichi arrive at Metropolis. In the scientist’s laboratory, Kenichi discovers a girl without any memory of her past life. He decides to help her, so they run away together. His uncle follows him and penetrates the dark secrets of the city to find Duke Red, the man ruling from the shadows. Meanwhile, Kenichi desperately tries to protect the mysterious girl from the people hunting her. However, Duke Red and his adoptive son have their own deep reasons for chasing the girl. These reasons are connected to her true identity and the struggle for the domination of Metropolis…
Metropolis is…a manga written in 1949 by Osamu Tezuka. Its similarities to the original film are pretty limited, mainly because Tezuka hadn’t even seen the film when he wrote the manga. He’d only seen a single picture in a magazine and thought it looked pretty rad.
Metropolis is…an anime movie from 2001 that’s loosely based on Tezuka’s manga, but also tries to bring in some plot elements from the original movie. It had an all-star team on it, such as Rintaro the director, one of my all time favourite anime folks Katsuhiro Otomo doing the scripts, and the production being done at Madhouse.
Metropolis is…not very good.
I feel a bit awkward not liking Metropolis, because there’s a hell of a lot of things to like about it. For one, it’s fucking gorgeous. Incredible detail has gone into each background drawing and there is rarely a shot where characters aren’t moving. Even background characters are doing little things like picking up bottles and throwing coins and puffing cigars. It seems weird to highlight something like this, but when you spend all your time watching the usual cost-cutting techniques of anime produced for television, it really stands out here. The music is fantastic too. It’s very blues orientated, which ties into the seedy underworld feel the lower levels of this heavily class-based world have.
The movie clearly has an actual point to the story too. It’s about class warfare and how the lowest levels of society will rise up eventually. It’s particularly striking how the rebellion starts with the second class citizens throwing their little fight, but the real rebellion is right at the end when the robots all rise up under their ‘charismatic’ leader. Tie this is with government corruption and how the desires of those in power, as heartfelt and real those feelings might be, can lead to the destruction of their city. There’s some pretty obvious allusions to the Tower of Babel too and the danger of trying to become like a god. In other words, this movie is not like the other 2000-era movie with Katsuhiro Otomo on board, Steamboy. With Steamboy, all the pretty visuals in the world couldn’t hide that the story was a total damp squib with dumb idealism and pathetic characters mwahaha go my biased views go. With Metropolis, there’s clearly an artistic vision here and a story with proper depth.
So why am I not feeling all that hyped about Metropolis? This might be a bit harder to explain.
You know that thing I was praising earlier on in this review? How characters would always be moving, including the background characters? How detailed the background art was? The movie also seemed to realise how great it was at this and leant on it too much. You get a lot of scenes of one character walking, another character walking with him, the second character looking back and slowing down, then jogging to catch back up with the character they were walking with. There’s lots of scenes of characters walking through the streets, or robots doing busywork, or fat Tezuka designs smoking cigars. It’s all set-dressing to develop the world, but most of it is redundant. When I say ‘a lot of scenes’, I really mean it. At least half of the first hour of the movie was spent on these shots of ‘world-building’. They get very boring very fast, which also serves to give the movie a painfully slow plodding pace.
The story is told almost entirely through symbolism and representative actions, which I generally like. That’s how I normally feel a story should be told. Thing is, this leaves the characters with rather little to say, but speak they do anyway. This leaves them with nothing of interest to say beyond idle chit chat, which leads me to the obvious conclusion that every single one is a boring person. Occasionally they might say something of interest that ties into the overall themes of the movie, but because the animation has been diligently working that point constantly, it’s again pretty redundant stuff. Combine these non-characters with a story that takes forever to move anywhere and has very little of excitement occurring and you get what makes Metropolis such a drag.
I knew writing this review would be difficult. Reading back over the last 2 paragraphs now, a lot of the things I appear to be complaining about are aspects of other anime I love. The whole thing about characters not being people but merely ideals slotted into the story might as well be a line from a review of Madoka Magica. Letting the visuals tell the story and leaving the characters to just blabber on about whatever could be a line from a review of FLCL. So what is it that this movie is missing? Some kind of X factor? Some oomph to get me invested?
Perhaps the best course of action might be to look at the end of the movie and see what it did right. For all the plodding most of the movie did, the end really ramps up and provides some of the most striking imagery I’ve seen in any anime. Absolutely jaw-dropping, end-of-the-world events centring on what had previously been this figure of purity and idealism warp into a mutant-baby-from-Akira monstrosity, but still had parts of its original face intact to make the shock turn even more grotesque and eerie. That scene had oomph, but it also wouldn’t have worked if the proceeding 90 minutes of rather boring studge hadn’t existed to build up the themes in the first place. It’s one of those cases where some reviewers would claim you require ‘patience’, which is a nice way of saying that the piece suffers from an inability to make its world-building and set up interesting to watch and only becomes interesting once Shit Starts Getting Real.
When Shit Starts Getting Real in Metropolis, it’s an exhilarating experience that brings together the narrative arcs of several plot threads in one satisfying conclusion. It’s a shame that they couldn’t make the entire rest of the movie interesting rather than relying on high production values and hoping that alone will keep you entertained.
The narrative opens in the titular Metropolis with a celebration for the opening of the new Ziggurat. Our protagonists are the private investigator, Shunsaku Ban and his nephew, Kenichi. They’ve traveled to Metropolis to find and arrest a Doctor guilty of harvesting human organs. Little do ther realise that he’s working with the great aristocrat, Duke Red, to create a specialised robot for a specific purpose. They find the doctor’s laboratory burning and Kenichi gets separated from his uncle and stuck in a lower part of the city with the robot, Tima.
The story doesn’t have a bad premise, even though it’s not the one from the original silent film or even close to it. But it quickly becomes riddled with problems. A big one is the romance they have between Tima and Kenichi. It’s incredibly weak with the two characters showing no chemistry nor sharing any substantial moments. They meet and they’re amicable towards each other so it must be love, I guess. The biggest one is probably Duke Red’s ultimate scheme. It reads like a bad silver age comic plot, but without the glorious cheesiness that made silver age comics entertaining. Instead, the film plays it completely seriously. The pacing is all over the place, with some scenes dragging and others getting rushed through.
The characters are severely under-developed. Most of them fill a basic archetypal role and never move beyond that. Which is a real problem when they try to get you to sympathise with them. Something bad happened to that guy with three or four lines? Yeah, if you don’t flesh out your characters, we aren’t going to care. The big exceptions are the characters with even less personality. Tima moves well below under-developed and is just very flat and primarily serves the purpose of being obsessive about Kenichi with little if any personality or motivation beyond him. Yes, the 1927 film was somehow more progressive in terms of gender portrayals than the 2001 one. There are other characters like that, mostly ones who appear in only a few scenes, though. Tima is the only major character with that particular problem.
The artwork is by far the best part of the film. The characters are done in a kind of retro design style reminiscent of other anime based on Tezuka’s work. Which does work very well given the source material. The backgrounds are magnificent. The futuristic tech is really cool looking, although some of it seems like it was deliberately designed around looking cool while being grossly impractical. The fire fighting equipment in particular involves a bunch of small parts that all have to converge and fuse into the main device. It does look cool, but it makes the world seem kind of stupid.
The voice acting is mostly pretty competent. The actors all do their work well enough. The big exception is Imoto Yuka who can’t be asked to emote and gives a very monotone performance. It may be a matter of direction, but I haven’t heard her in anything else, this film was the only acting credit I could find for her, so it’s possible that the direction was fine and she was just bad. The music is really good.
There really isn’t any in this. 1/10.
This movie is not good but I would hesitate to call it ungood. Visually, it’s a real treat. The music is good and the acting is, mostly, okay. That being said, it has a lot of problems. The story is weak. The characters are bland at best. It’s a film that’s flashy but lacking in any real substance. You might want to give it a watch if you’re really into high quality animation and sci-fi, but if you’re going to want a compelling narrative with interesting characters you’ll want to skip it. As such, I can’t recommend it for most people. Although you should definitely watch the silent film that it’s very loosely based on. My final rating is going to be a 4/10. Tomorrow, we’ll leap to something else. Possibly involving time travel.
The character development in Metropolis was appealing. The characters brought the movie alive; they are all one of a kind. Each of them had their own unique looks, styles, and distinctive personalities.
Metropolis is best known for its beautiful CGI; complete eye candy. The character animation didn’t blend in that well with the other CGI structures, but the strange daring mixture pulled me more into the movie.
I’ve seen Metropolis only in English dialogue, which I thought was great. Each of the voice actors portrayed the characters very well. The soundtrack to Metropolis was amazing. I really loved the music through out the movie, especially the ending song.
I would recommend watching Metropolis; it is a true delight.
21: Juubee Ninpuuchou
English: Ninja Scroll
MAL Score: 7.61
Jubei Kibagami wanders feudal Japan as an itinerant swordsman-for-hire. After a past betrayal left him masterless, he has no more patience for warring political factions and their schemes. Unfortunately, both past and political intrigue collide when he meets and saves a female ninja named Kagero from a man with the ability to make his body as hard as stone.
The sole survivor of a ninja clan, Kagero continues her team’s last mission: investigate a mysterious plague that wiped out an entire village. Jubei wants nothing to do with this, but the stone-like man’s allies, a group of ninja with supernatural powers known as the Devils of Kimon, make that option difficult. To make matters worse, a government spy poisons Jubei, promising him an antidote if he can unravel the true intentions of the Devils of Kimon and their connection to the plague. The trail leads to shadow leaders, a plot to overthrow the government, and a man that Jubei thought he would never see again.
Story: Ninja Scroll in a very realistic sense is an anime B-movie. So the story was pretty heinous. Essentially the entire plot can be seen as a device to switch setting and to move to the next fight scene. However the story itself (if you’re actually paying attention) isn’t all too bad. There were some interesting little character developments and a couple neat twists and turns. It gets slightly weird towards the end and the actual ending itself was a little lacking. But the forte of the anime is the action scenes. Almost all of them were brilliant, I say almost all because frankly I wanted to see a couple stretched out a little longer. Each enemy that Jubei faces is different and even though it’s pretty clear that he can’t be beaten it’s interesting to see him face some of the tougher opponenets.
Art: The art completely and perfectly suits the feel of the anime. The art isn’t good, it isn’t bright or colourful….it’s mediocre. But the movie wouldn’t feel right without the style of art that’s used. Granted there were 2-3 moments where I was forced to turn on the lights because I felt like I was going to have a seizure. Most of the screen flashed red and black really quickly and I quickly averted my eyes. But that’s my only qualm about the art.
Sound: Cheesy, oldschool….perfect for the movie.
Character: Jubeii is….the best and most powerful swordsman ever. Well, maybe not ever, but he’s still pretty amazing and he has a good heart. All the characters are pretty one dimensional are never developed. You get a couple "reveal" moments, but they’re a little bit boring as well. About the only noteworthy character is Kagero. I felt really sorry for her during pretty much the entire movie. However the interactions and "development" of characters is meaningless to the film. The film is about action and fighting so, for me at least, it’s understandable that the characters are pretty flat.
Enjoyment: I love Ninja Scroll. It’s a seriously fun ride. There’s nothing deep about it, there’s no meaning to it….the film is about action and that’s exactly what it delivers. The movie is also quite gory and has a lot of nudity in it. There’s also a really hilarious sex-scene…well…it was at least funny to me. There’s also rape…so if you’re offended by that you probably should steer clear.
If you enjoy Ninja Scroll, which I can only hope you do, you should definitely check out Wicked City, which is from the same director and in many respects is practically the same film.
So, what’s wrong? Well, ninjas. I await the day when I can see a ninja character that I can even begin to believe in. However, it seems it is illegal to have ninjas that you can actually believe in; they all have to be supernatural and/or sublimely skilled, to an order of magnitude above and beyond your garden variety trained killer. Ninja Scroll is the very epitome of this attitude. They’re not just sneaky guys with throwing knives, they turn to stone and have steerable mystic claws on endless chains and can hold off their own deaths until they deliver that one vital message. All the most hackneyed and OTT things you can imagine ninjas doing, in all the most trashy b-movies and cheesy games, they happen here. It’s also, to my eye, unnecessarily nasty in its graphicness, tone and inference – I’m not squeamish, but I would rather gore had some point. Think Naruto meets Urotsukidoji, but with rather less sex and filler episodes, and zero lightheartedness or charm.
Everything in Ninja Scroll is resolutely (tediously) grim and opressive all the time. It’s actually quite tiring. All the characters are also gratingly simplistic. There’s a hero, a heroine who is not allowed to be strong enough to look after herself in order that our hero Jubei can save her from a nasty fate, assorted sneaky buggers and of course all those supernatural ninjas. No-one is remotely credible as a character. Of course, they’re not supposed to be, really, Ninja Scroll is clearly a very long way from realism. The point is, this is a genre piece, and if you’re not enamoured of the stereotype of ninjas, well, this’ll not do anything to persuade you. Then again, if Magikal Ninjery is your line, I’m sure you’ll think I should rate this way higher.
To be fair, it’s not the worst thing ever in the history of ever. The art style isn’t really my cup of tea, but is distinctive and unique, with bold outlines, solid colours and overall a very stylised look. Some of the ideas, if you can get past the basic ridiculousness to suspend your disbelief, are inventive and unexpected. However, I was unable to make it that far.
I’m not going to pretend to be objective or anything, this is what I think, and I think Ninja Scroll is terrible. There are likely many who will disagree, but there it is, it’s the kind of thing that polarises opinions.
The story is amazing. Demon ninjas with terrible powers, each unique.
The Art for it’s time is also excellent. This is the movie that made me realize that cartoons could be serious, not just Bugs Bunny style.
If you like movies that have amazing villians, and a hero willing to fight them, and not cry about it the whole time. Violence. Great visuals. Imagination. Very good storyline. This movie is for you. I’ll also mention that this is one of the only animes that I can watch in either English of Japanese. The English dub was done very well.
Do yourself a favor and watch this movie. If you don’t like it, then you have only lost an hour and a half of your life. A small price to pay for anime history.
20: Overlord Movie 1: Fushisha no Ou
English: Overlord: The Undead King
Japanese: 【前編】劇場版総集編 オーバーロード 不死者の王
MAL Score: 7.61
First Overlord recap film.
There’s basically nothing more to say, if you’ve watched the anime watching the movie will probably disappoint some of you, since it doesn’t add more to the plot of the story which we have been dying to know more off.
However, in a sense the movie helps hyped up the story for the upcoming Second season. It also help us remind of what happened in the story, so when the second season hits we would felt like theres no gap from season 1 to season 2.
Overall the movie was bog standard. I enjoy the anime, and seeing the recap movie helps me remember the fun times I had watching the anime in the first place. It’s fun imagining ourselves as the Overlord, which could take over the world easily.
I recommend you watch the anime, however if you’re waiting for the second season like I do. You could consider watching the movie it summed up the first-half well and with more time on our hands. But if you have more time in your hands, i recommend just rewatching the anime for the full ride.
** Spoiler Alert **
In the beginning there was the dive scene.
Momonga chatting with Sebas was modified a bit.
Lots of pan out scenery shots of the cities and Nazarick.
The slane theocracy mission.
And a few more.
** End Spoiler **
Again it doesnt make a huge impact if you did watch the anime but it does add a little bit extra details here and there, which i enjoyed watching (despite watching the anime a few times and having it rather fresh in my memory).
I have to say, however, that even as a fan of the original series, I was quite disappointed. So here I am writing a review for anyone who might be about to dive into the movie with any sort of heightened expectations.
The recap is basically just what it says it is, a recap. It adds NOTHING to the TV anime, like new scenes or dialogue (apart from the 30-second scene in the beginning), and improves NOTHING even though Madhouse should have had enough time to up the quality even by a bit. The animation is the same, the CG fights are the same etc. You could watch the TV show and it wouldn’t make much difference apart from giving you the full story.
The only thing saving this movie is the fact that it’s Overlord, Momonga is cool, Albedo is sexy and funny, and all the characters are basically a joy to watch. The music hasn’t changed and it is passable.
So yeah, if you’re going into this movie expecting something different or better from the TV anime, then don’t. It’s just the same thing, minus a couple scenes stuck together and thrown in the theater for money money money. 5/10.
19: Cardcaptor Sakura Movie 1
English: Cardcaptor Sakura The Movie
Japanese: 劇場版 カードキャプターさくら
MAL Score: 7.64
During an after-school shopping trip, Sakura Kinomoto decides to participate in the Tomoeda Shopping District’s year-end lottery, with the grand prize being a round trip to Hong Kong. Surprisingly, she draws the winning ball. Alongside her best friend Tomoyo Daidouji, her older brother Touya, her crush Yukito Tsukishiro, and Keroberos, Sakura heads off to Hong Kong.
However, vacation for the Cardcaptor will get cut short. Little does Sakura know, the trip may be connected to her recent, prophetic dreams featuring a mysterious woman and Clow Reed himself, creator of the Clow Cards.
Set after the first season, Cardcaptor Sakura: The Movie takes Sakura to an entirely new environment: Hong Kong. After winning a five-day trip at a local store, Sakura is given the opportunity to travel to a different country for the first time in her life. Things are not quite so simple, though, and as several foreboding dreams and supernatural phenomenons soon reveal, there is more to her winning the trip than a mere game of luck.
The first twenty minutes are fairly promising, immediately opening with a tense fight for one of the Clow Cards. Hearing a few beloved tracks from the series once again evokes a sense of nostalgia, and the characters quickly show that they are just as endearing as ever. Kero-chan remains his frivolous, gluttonous self, while Touya continues to tease Sakura for amusing results. Some of the best moments are those early on with the characters travelling through Hong Kong and taking in the sights, and the beautiful artwork makes these scenes all the more breathtaking.
Eyecandy is certainly not something that is lacking in this film. Fluid animation, detailed expressions and stunning scenery all set the visuals of Cardcaptor Sakura: The Movie to a much higher standard than most animated films. Hong Kong is presented as far more than a busy metropolis, with a diverse set of authentic locales being used to effectively portray the culture. Unfortunately, the moments highlighting the characters’ experiences with the city are all too fleeting. Instead we are gifted with a trite and highly predictable story for the remainder of the film.
It’s around the point where Sakura finds herself drawn to a shrine that things steadily go downhill. Most notably, Li and Meiling show up from absolutely nowhere. In the exact same area of a massive city, with no prior knowledge that either group would even be there. There’s even the cliche of bumping into each other in Meiling’s case. How is the viewer supposed to take the movie seriously when it relies on absurd plot conveniences so early on? An explanation may have made the scene less silly, but there is not even that. “What are you doing here?”, asks Sakura. A question left unanswered.
The rest of the story focuses on a vengeful spirit who drags Sakura into a conflict that is only tangentially related to her. This represents the main issue with this film– it doesn’t have any relevance to the overarching story. None of the characters are developed aside from a few scenes with Li’s mother and Clow Reed’s past relationship with the spirit. There’s no sense of accomplishment once the conflict is finally resolved, and the only emotional value is during a scene with Sakura relating to the spirit’s unrequited love. Unless you are a particularly patient viewer, there’s a strong chance that you will find yourself bored with anything beyond the first thirty minutes.
Much of the film takes itself far too seriously and as a result, most of the charm from the TV series is absent here. Dramatic moments were common in the main series, but they were always interspersed with comedy and had relevance to the story. Not here. It is ceaseless drama distinguished by superfluous (though pretty) action scenes and vague, cliched lines about destiny. It just doesn’t work.
As for the sound, the voice acting is exceptional and the eclectic soundtrack compliments the setting especially well. Traditional Chinese music is used while the characters traverse through the city, and a palatable mix of jazz and orchestral music plays during the action sequences. The ending song is also quite nice and serves as a satisfying conclusion to a bittersweet story. It’s hard to find much fault with the technical aspects of the film.
Despite a variety of complaints, Cardcaptor Sakura: The Movie is not bad by any means. Compared to most anime movies, and particularly within the mahou shoujo genre, it is still well above average. Fans of the series will most likely find some level of enjoyment here between the disappointment, and at only 80-minutes long it’s hard to go wrong with the prospect of more Cardcaptor Sakura.
Still, considering the quality of the main series, decent just isn’t enough here.
The art, as usual for a CLAMP adaption, is gorgeous. But the dub is AWFUL, and changes the dialogue around completely. Avoid it at all costs.
One of my favorite things about this movie was story expansion into Clow’s life. He’s a very interesting character, and the story from his past in this movie I think would make a great anime series on it’s own.
I wish I had known to watch this chronologically! I watched it after I had watched the entire series. It seems like it’s supposed to take place between season one and season two, even though it came out right after season two had finished airing, based off of her wand as well as a couple of other things I wouldn’t want to risk spoiling about the main series. So if you’re reading this review and haven’t watched CCS yet for some reason, I recommend watching this at the end of season one.
Don’t skip this just because some people didn’t like it as much! It’s eighty minutes of top quality Cardcaptor Sakura!
18: Toaru Hikuushi e no Tsuioku
English: The Princess and the Pilot
MAL Score: 7.64
The war between the Levamme Empire and the Amatsukami Imperium has been raging for years. In the midst of this struggle, the prince of the Levamme Empire declares his love for Juana del Moral and vows to end the war in one year, as part of his marriage proposal. When the Amatsukami catch wind of this, they assault the del Moral residence, targeting Juana’s life. As a last ditch effort to bring the prince his bride, the San Maltilia Airforce hires a mercenary of mixed blood—a bestado—to fly Juana to the Levamme capital in secret. The pilot, Charles, accepts the mission…but traversing an ocean alone, into enemy territory, proves a much more dangerous ordeal than anyone could have anticipated.
(Source: NIS America)
This didn’t bore me at all, and in fact, it’s so much more refreshing than most of the anime aired these days. If you are like me, who need occasional breaks from tsundere and yandere girls and harem loving boys, come and watch this please. I wouldn’t call it serious or deep, but it’s real. Yes, it’s real as in, it’s how real people are. I’m not trying to offend quircky and crazy characters or random and insane plot twists. It’s like I said, I need a break sometimes.
I digressed from the review a little bit, but honestly, if I say one little thing about the plot or characters, it’ll basically ruin the series for you, since everything is as straightforward as they can be, and should be in my opinion.
The soundtracks and animation are really good, and the fighting scenes are very well made. It’s like one of those studio ghibli’s works, simple but solid, and in my case, will be remembered fondly.
It was originally published as a single volume light novel in 2008 and was considered a runaway success. Although Inumura Koroku was already writing a different novel series at the time, this novel became his breakthrough and most well-known work. Inumura left such an impression on his readers that the novel reached tenth place in the annual “Kono Light Novel ga Sugoi!”, or “This Light Novel is Amazing!”, poll conducted on the Internet. It spawned a subsequent “Hikuushi” series which encompasses two additional spin-off series of the same “Toaru Hikuushi e no” title.
There are a number of predictable formulas for characters involved in forbidden love. In this case, we are introduced to mercenary pilot Charles Karino and Juana del Moral, fiancée of the crown prince of a powerful empire. Their story and the conflict that is in their hearts are set within a greater conflict: relentless warfare between two neighboring empires. The conditions also beg of the question of whether it is right to sacrifice a world’s peaceful future for the selfish desires of two people. The juxtaposition of these two elements presents a love story that is timeless and refreshing. While it is something we’ve read before in stories like “Romeo and Juliet”, the tale does not fall into the trap of creating a predictable ending, but rather an inevitable one. In fact, when the reader begins to understand the fate of the two characters, he or she can still be impressed by the way their relationship is developed.
With the story focused on only two noteworthy characters, it can be easy to assume that watching their interaction will boring. On the other hand, one can easily empathize with the strong feelings of the characters. Each time pilot and princess are torn between duty and personal affection, even the reader feels can feel torn as to which decision they should make. One can sense that the two are close in their hearts, yet a gap as wide as an ocean separates their conscience. As both characters begin to open up to the feelings of each other, we become more invested in their relationship.
Madhouse presents its viewers with an artistic presentation that is both appropriate and experimental. Heavy use of the color blue is obvious from the theatrical poster alone as it represents the vastness of both the sky and the ocean. It does not, however, drown out the other colors that are also presented, and certain environmental details make this anime movie as realistic as possible. Madhouse also presents a sound mechanical design for aircraft technology in the film. Aerial combat is presented with great detail in the movement of each airplane as if one were watching a World War II reel, complemented by a rich portfolio of sounds that realistically replicates an propeller airplane’s engine.
While the film’s soundtrack may not be very memorable, Niizuma Seiko presents us a touching theme song with lyrics that reflect the longing of both characters. As an ending theme, it provides an appropriate closure for a story with mild pacing. Conflicts in the plot came at the appropriate times and keep the viewer interested through a film that could easily have bored viewers if done improperly because of its length.
“The Princess and the Pilot” is a simple story set in a rich universe that shines through the human interaction that is neither exaggerated nor lacking. While it can be enjoyed as a standalone work, reading the novel will also present a richer understanding of the distance that separates Charles and Juana and the affection that binds them.
17: Overlord Movie 2: Shikkoku no Eiyuu
English: Overlord: The Dark Hero
Japanese: 【後編】劇場版総集編 オーバーロード 漆黒の英雄
MAL Score: 7.64
Second Overlord recap film.
If you haven’t seen the first television season then this will be a good recap to prep you for the second season. If you have seen the first season then know this movie covers roughly episodes 8 through 13. Keep in mind there are a few extended scenes.
Peppered throughout the film are several moments of extended dialogue, battles, and a few changes that include the appearance, albeit brief, of an as yet undefined character.
So put it like this; if you have an hour and a half, think you’d enjoy a re-watch of the second half of the first season that focuses on the highlights, and wouldn’t mind seeing a little extra, then this movie is for you.
If you haven’t seen the first season, but have seen the first movie and liked it, then what are you waiting for? You’re gonna love this! 😉
16: Piano no Mori
Japanese: ピアノの森 The Perfect World of Kai
MAL Score: 7.65
Piano no Mori tells the story of Shuuhei Amamiya, a transfer student, and Kai Ichinose, a problem child from the rough areas of town. Upon transferring to Moriwaki Elementary and telling the other kids about his talent for piano, Shuuhei quickly finds himself as the victim of bully Daigaku Kanehira.
Daigaku dares Shuuhei to find and play a cursed piano in the forest, which leads him to meet Kai, who claims to be the owner of the piano and the only one who can play it. Intrigued, Shuuhei follows Kai to the hidden piano in the forest and listens to him play a beautiful medley.
Earning the respect of not only Shuuhei but school music teacher Sousuke Ajino as well, Kai now finds himself formally learning how to play the piano.
The story takes place in a small town in the countryside, and revolves around the friendship and rivalry between Amamiya Shuuhei and Ichinose Kai. Shuuhei is an accomplished child pianist, and has studied hard for years to uphold the family tradition of producing outstanding musical talent. He and his family move to the countryside for a short time to help nurse his sick grandmother, and because of the duration of their stay, he must attend the school there. It is while he is at school that he first hears of the mysterious piano in the forest (which is rumoured to be cursed as no sound will be heard if you play it), and where he first encounters the scruffy and enigmatic Kai, who claims the piano belongs to him and only he can play it.
The artwork for this movie is excellent. The town and forest backdrops are very well realised, and the characters are nicely depicted as unique individuals. The animation is generally very smooth, especially during the piano scenes.
The sound is one area where this movie excels, especially during the scenes involving music. The sound effects throughout the movie are generally very good, from the hum of the car, to the sound of a restless crowd.
I found both Kai and Shuuhei to be very likeable characters, and the interaction between them is quite realistic. The side characters are also very well done, but as this is a movie, the only real development is given to the main characters, with a little devoted to some of the side characters. This should not be considered a limiting factor though, as the movie doesn’t really suffer for it.
I enjoyed this movie immensely, not simply because I’m a fan of classical music (and anime), but because it’s a very nice story that has been very well animated with some good characters and excellent sound.
I would recommend this movie to anyone who is a fan of classical music. I’d also recommend it to fans of shows such as Nodame Cantabile and La Corda D’Oro.
If you’re after action, adventure, fanservice, etc, then this movie is probably one you should avoid. If what you’re looking for however, is a heartwarming movie about friendship and rivalry then you should definitely check this out.
To conclude this review, I would reccomend this movie to musicians. Without these factors, the movie was just cute. Nothing special. But for a musician or a musician in the making this movie is beautiful simply beautiful.
To be honest, I hadn’t really expected to find other classical music anime that could compare to “Nodame Cantabile”, but enter “Piano no Mori”, a quiet film that, in less than two hours, captured what was at the heart of “Nodame Cantabile” surprisingly well – its passion for music.
“Piano no Mori” revolves around two boys, Shuuhei and Kai, who both have piano as one of the central aspects of their lives. Shuuhei comes from a family of pianists, is forced to practice piano day in day out in order to become a pianist himself. On the other end of the spectrum, Kai found a broken piano in the forest which only he can play; it enthralled him and he has grown up playing it without any formal training. The story starts off with Shuuhei moving to a new town with his family and meeting Kai, who attends the same school. The two soon become good friends, and the story focuses on how their attitudes towards playing piano is changed by one another.
The set up is not too dis-similar to “Nodame Cantabile”, with Shuuhei being a bit like the serious, hard working Chiaki and Kai representing the unrefined genius type, blessed with vast, untamed talents just like Nodame. Unlike “Nodame Cantabile” though, the characters are more polarised: while Chiaki also had talent and passion for music in abundance, and Nodame is also (somewhat) classically trained, Shuuhei and Kai have less of an overlap.
This comparison also holds true in other common areas shared between the two anime: while they have a lot in common in terms of what they have to say about music, “Piano no Mori” explores the themes with less maturity, and presents its messages in a more black and white, more straight forward way. As an example, see how easy it is for Kai to play complex pieces by ear, and to play a challenging Chopin sonata after just practicing the scales for a bit. Even for a genius, to play like he does without formal training and proper practice is just impossible. And this is one of my main complaint for the film: while I acknowledge that “Piano no Mori” isn’t meant to be well grounded in reality, at times it feels a tad too fairy-tale-esq in light of its generally earnest approach to music.
But because of its earnest approach, its faults are something I’m willing to forgive. The movie covers remarkable breadth and depth, emphasising amongst other things passion, hard work, as well as finding one’s self within the music. Shuuhei impresses upon Kai the importance of taking piano more seriously and facing it head on. But while Shuuhei learnt the piano, Kai lived it, and the latter’s infectious enthusiasm profoundly effects the former, for whom piano is mostly like a chore. To those who’ve watched “Nodame Cantabile”, most of this will sound familiar.
Unlike “Nodame Cantabile” though, I would hesitate to recommend this to people not into classical music. I just can imagine non-enthusiasts yawning through the first half of the film, though the second half is somewhat more entertaining. Though Shuuhei is a bit dull, Kai makes for an interesting, spunky lead; he pretty much carries the entertainment factor of the show, and often drew chuckles from me with his outrageous antics.
The story of “Piano no Mori” is a bit loose. For one thing it feels incomplete – it’s odd that the film introduces the mysterious piano in the forest that only Kai could play, only to ignore the mystery of its magical qualities almost completely. Also, the story is annoyingly inconsistent regarding the piano competition preliminaries that was featured. First they were saying the everyone had to play Mozart’s piano sonata K. 311… but then in the competition, someone played a different Mozart piece, and that seemed okay too. Also there was one part of the film dedicated to a contestant whining about someone like Shuuhei being in the region ruining her chances in the preliminaries as though there’s only one person who can qualify. In the end, about 10 people qualified, and I was left wondering what the big fuss was all about.
If you like classical music though, these problems will seem small compared to what the film does right. Unlike “Kiniro no Corda”, which often seems more concerned about its bishies than the music, “Piano no Mori” focuses on the music, and is essentially a simplified emboddiment of the ideas at the core of “Nodame Cantabile”. And THAT, is why it does not disappoint.
MAL Score: 7.73
Memories is a compilation of three standalone short films encompassing different genres.
In the far reaches of space, after tracing a distress signal to a large abandoned space station, a pair of engineers—Heintz Beckner and Miguel Costrela—find a derelict mansion and decide to explore on foot. Their investigation reveals a dark secret surrounding the fate of Eva Friedel, a renowned opera singer with a tragic history. Hallucinations soon begin to plague them, and they must fight to retain their sanity in order to escape the station alive.
Hapless lab technician Nobuo Tanaka consumes some pills at his laboratory to cure a cold. Unknown to him, however, the pills are actually experimental drugs that enhance his flatulence to a lethal degree. As the toxic gas escaping him kills everyone in his vicinity, he is ordered by his superiors to retreat to the company headquarters in Tokyo. The journey to the city is made all the more arduous as Nobuo struggles with his deadly odor while the police, military, and foreign adversaries are hot on his trail.
In a fortress city filled to the brim with cannons, a young boy wishes to surpass his father by becoming a revered artillery officer. Despite no proof of an enemy nation, he cannot resist the urge to partake in the daily bombardment routines organized by the city. Whether at school or just before bedtime, he only dreams of someday firing a cannon for the sake of his homeland.
I am going to address every story separately, as I think everything will be clearer this way. I am also going to say my final remarks at the end.
This is the only short of the three that deserves to be called Memories. The atmosphere is done in an incredible way that always leaves the viewer on the edge of his seat, expecting something to happen and creating even more tension in the process. The visual style plays a big part on that and it also is pretty and well-detailed, but visually old.
This short as a whole is incredible, actually, I think that it would have been actually better as a sole and full-length movie, as that way we would have been able to explore this wonderfully tragic story with more time and it wouldn’t have to be paired with the other movies. Needless to say after that, Magnetic Rose is my favorite short of this collection and the best one, by far.
Supposedly, this short was comedy, but no one in the room I watched it laughed. More than that, the story feels unimaginative and the characters are so ridiculously dumb that it makes you wonder how they became scientists of that level. Despite that, I got to say that it is very pretty, albeit a bit old-styled.
This was, for me, a terrible short. I actually was glad that it ended. The quality drop between the two first short is astounding actually. I can’t really recommend it to anyone.
This short is, at least for me, a well-defined criticism to some cultures and elements of our society. In that it is pretty successful, but it doesn’t manage to tell a particularly interesting story in the process.
Its most marking characteristic is its visuals, specially when paired with the awesome soundtrack that accompanies it. I would categorize the visuals as experimental and unique. Also, it is not really possible to explain it, you just got watch it to understand it. Also, it uses a trick similar to the recent Birdman to make it seem as if the movie is just one continuous shot.
Cannon Fodder is experimental and interesting, but it definitely isn’t something everybody would enjoy. I would recommend it to people who enjoy experimental stuff or this style of criticism.
As a collection, Memories fails, its title doesn’t fit, the themes have nothing in common and, overall, it isn’t that good. The only great short it has is Magnetic Rose, that is an incredible sci-fi. Because of that, I can’t recommend it whole-heartedly to anyone. My advice is: watch only the first short and, maybe, give the third one a try if you enjoy that type of stuff; just skip the second one, for your own sake.
To put it in one word, impressive. It boasts some of the most resplendent animation and music that compliments the unnerving tone and setting, along with the script being in the hands of Satoshi Kon. The short chronicles how the Corona, a salvage freighter in deep space comes upon a strange space station after responding to a distress signal. The two engineers of the crew, Heintz and Miguel, enter and discover a luxurious European interior that once belonged to famed opera singer named Eva. As the two engineers further explore they both become engulfed in Eva’s memories through a series of paranormal encounters, with both men each reliving their own memories.
For a ghost story, this is one of the best I’ve ever seen. In a 40-minute duration it delivers on capturing the essence of the anthology title, creating a haunting yet intriguing world of one’s past, and presents a disturbing message of the dangers of living in the past. Eva is a literal representation of that very message and attempts to lure both men into her past, and while some may resist, others might be more willing to fall into the trap, seeing it as an escape to a better place. Magnetic Rose explores love lost and the desperation of a lonely person determined to regain a kind of love so precious, no matter what the cost. This idea is woven masterfully into the plot, making it as thought-provoking as it is terrifying. Kon’s style of storytelling is also present here, blurring the lines between reality and hallucinations and keeping viewers thinking throughout its duration. Fun fact for any film buffs out there: This short also holds references to other sci-fi films such as Alien and 2001: A Space Odyssey with certain scenes, yet never feels cheap or derivative. Magnetic Rose has these familiar elements and makes them feel fresh, a testament to the staff behind this show. The overall story exudes intrigue and ends in a way that answers enough questions to feel satisfying and make sense, yet leaves enough to viewer interpretation to leave its mark.
Satoshi Kon was also behind the art direction and like the story, it’s stunning. The fluid animation, cinematic techniques and overall attention-to-detail make Magnetic Rose a marvel of animation. Considering this came out over 20 years ago by the time I’m writing this, and still looks incredible. The scenes in space alone demonstrate how impressive the show is on a technical scale. Despite looking dated with its art style and not being vibrant or colourful, Magnetic Rose shows that there is more to animation than simple visual look. Meanwhile the sound was composed by Yoko Kanno and is mostly operatic, matching the setting and tone of the tragic story perfectly. Voice acting was great all around with Eva’s voice actress in particular being breathtaking in her role. Her version of “Madame Butterfly” is awe-inspiring, even if you dislike like opera, you will still probably appreciate the piece and the overall music in general with how it complements scenes so effectively. Magnetic Rose excels in so many ways that the only way I could see it have been better is if it were its own stand-alone movie. And on that note, I am very surprised this story has not even been rumoured at all for a potential Hollywood adaptation considering the high potential for a successful anime adaptation. It is the highlight of this anthology and is the part of Memories that you will strongly remember.
Here Memories transitions from haunting beauty to a dark comedy that uses satire to demonstrate how stupid humanity can be. The change of tone and pace can be seen immediately from the start, showing a rather overly cheerful television program with fitting music and colourful art compared to Magnetic Rose. Stink Bomb follows Nobuo Tanaka, a young lab technician of a hospital trying to cure his cold and when trying to find a new cold medicine under development, he takes the wrong pill; the ‘red pill’. But instead of finding enlightenment, this buffoon finding all his fellow employees dead and panicked, rushes to deliver the experimental drug he mistook for cold medication to headquarters in Tokyo. Unbeknownst to Nobuo, his mistake is the cause behind everyone in the hospital dying, with him now spreading death and destruction everywhere he goes without him even knowing. Because of this, Nobuo becomes a target of assassination and kidnapping by the government.
Most people find Stink Bomb easily the worst of the three entries, feeling like a 40-minute long dumb joke that wasn’t funny to begin with, however I feel as though Stink Bomb gets too much negative buzz than it deserves. It’s a light-hearted take on how foolish our species can be when in dire straits ala Kubrick’s Dr. Strangelove, ridiculing such in over-the-top comedic fashion. The idea that a lab technician is so unbelievably stupid is not something that I consider detrimental to the show; his density fits the kind of comedy the show is going for and is the perfect example for how one man can cause such disaster and trigger-happy militants can further the damage with both ease and lack of common sense. Even if you did not find the comedic style to your liking and I myself will admit that I did not find it that hilarious apart from some overexaggerated missiles, it is definitely an entertaining short that I never once found dull.
The animation is the weakest of the three, lacking the technical quality, art direction and sheer unique look of both Magnetic Rose and Cannon Fodder. It also looks the most dated, but still holds up enough to not lessen the experience and contains some of the most action-packed scenes with fluid animation to match. The music is arguably the best part of the short, composed of lively jazz expertly incorporated throughout and is surprisingly appropriate for Stink Bomb’s chaotic style of comedy. Both the animation and sound add to the story’s light-heartedness, and that’s exactly what Stink Bomb strived for. If you come into this looking for some sort of hidden meaning, you will be disappointed. Its intentions are purely to elicit a smile on your face, and for me, it succeeded.
Cannon Fodder is aesthetically the most intriguing of the three shorts, creating a world comparable to a communism dystopia filled with massively-oversized cannons that fire at an “enemy moving city” that is never visually confirmed by the show; clearly an allegory on society. Cannon Fodder is the most literal title this show could have had. Everyone’s life revolves about firing cannons; the men work the cannons, the women make the shells, and the children are taught on the mechanics of firing cannons. Cannon Fodder looks at the life of an average family on an average day in this bleak world. We see the father going through the motions as he loads cannons, only living to work, to the naïve child aspiring to someday be the man who fires these cannons. It’s a dreary 30 minutes that leaves you in a bleak state, having seen how bleak these characters’ lives are and that it won’t change.
Cannon Fodder is certainly not for every anime fan. It’s a short similar to artistic anime like Texhnolyze that are merciless in their depiction of a hopeless world. It’s also a highly political film, with its critique of militarism, socialism and propaganda very noticeable throughout the story. It’s shown the leader of the city is nothing more than a chubby man, yet is portrayed through portraits and such as a fit, powerful leader and worshipped by civilians. An interesting fact: none of the characters are ever given names, another result of living in this kind of world where cannons are valued more than the individuals that work on them. The premise and story of Cannon Fodder is simple and not subtle in the slightest, making it even more frustrating to some viewers. However, considering how political first-world countries have gotten in recent years, I feel like this short is worth the 30 minutes it takes to watch.
The artstyle for Cannon Fodder is ugly, no doubt about it, and it complements the dark, depressing vibe the world has. The palette of greys and browns gives the city a decaying, decrepit look that mirrors the people belonging to it. Steampunk elements blend into the city seamlessly, with cannons sticking out of every building present. The people themselves don’t even look human, with sickly grey skin and sunken eyes look more like they can straight out of a nightmare than anything resembling the kind of world we live in. From a technical perspective, the attention to detail is perhaps the best of the three shorts, but what really makes Cannon Fodder’s animation so great is Otomo’s direction. The entire short is one continuous sequence without a single cut. Can you recall an anime you’ve seen that has no cuts in its entirety? Otomo utilizes an array of cinematic techniques and transitions that blend in with the story and animated scenes so well that they may go unnoticed to the average viewer, and that is in my opinion the sign of a master of cinematography. Cannon Fodder is quite possibly one of the greatest one-takes in the history of cinema in general and like Akira, is a testament to Otomo’s ability as a director.
In conclusion, Memories is not your typical anthology series; it does not have any overarching narrative that ties the three entries together. But what Memories does contain is a unique collection of short stories that individually showcase some of best animation the industry had at the time and it still hold up. But saying that its value only resides in the animation undermines other great aspects of Cannon Fodder and Stink Bomb such as directing, atmosphere, themes, etc., and nearly everything about Magnetic Rose. None of these films should be ignored and are all worth the time it takes to experience each of these wonderful pieces of animation.
The first episode “Magnetic Rose”: I felt that it reflected the title pretty well- the theme definitely correlates to memories. This was probably the most impressive in terms of story and art- the only complaint is that this would’ve been ideal if it was turned into a full-length movie instead of being thrown into a 3 episode movie. But that’s just me. The story is basically about two space dudes from the future exploring the interior of what was once home of a famous opera singer of the century (our generation).
The second episode “Stink Bomb”: I’m not sure how it relates to the title at all. This was the most humorous and light-hearted of the three. It’s about a chemist who takes a pill right before he sleeps and then he wakes up with everyone around him dead- it sounds very dark and depressing but they managed to keep it surprisingly mellow somehow believe it or not. I enjoyed this one a lot as well.
The third and final episode “Cannon Fodder”: This felt a bit underwhelming in comparison to the first two, no offense. In terms of visuals this was probably the most unique- it’s very rough and gritty but it can be very charming. Its about something comparable to the Industrial Revolution and the war around the early 1900s. I always kind of waited to see the little boy the majority of the time as he felt to be the main character but sadly he doesn’t get as much screen time as i hope he would. The only thing that corresponds to memories is the little boy saluting a general from the past and he dreams of eventually becoming one instead of being a cannon launcher like his father.
Overall: It’s pretty good- but if i were you i’d watch it all in reverse (episode 3 first, episode 2 second then episode 1 last). It’d probably be more satisfying than if you did it in order. There isn’t a chronological order to it anyway it’s just three different movies with some connection ..with i guess the theme of memories tucked inside.
14: Hadashi no Gen
English: Barefoot Gen
MAL Score: 7.78
It’s the summer of 1945. 3 years have elapsed since the war between Japan and USA began. Gen is a young boy living a struggling yet satisfying life in the city of Hiroshima, that has been strangely spared by the bombing taken in almost every other Japanese City. Food is scarce, and Gen’s family is suffering from severe malnutrition, which endangers his pregnant mother. There isn’t much spare time as Gen and his little brother Shinji help their father and mother at work and try to make sure their family survives the tough times. Little do they know, what the Americans have in store for the city of Hiroshima and as of the 6th of August 1945, their lives are about to change dramatically.
(Taken from an interview with Nakazawa Keiji by Jonathan Clements.)
On Moday, August 6th, 1945, the US bomber Enola Gay dropped the atomic bomb known as “Little Boy” on the city of Hiroshima, Japan. The explosion killed around 70,000 people immediately, with almost as many again dead from the resulting radiation by the end of 1945.
Nakazawa Keiji, the author of Barefoot Gen, was 6 years old at the time of the bombing, and is one of the survivors of the destruction of Hiroshima. The bomb was responsible for the death of his father, his sister, and his brother. At the age of 6 he and his mother dug their remains out of the ruins of their home. In 1963 Nakazawa moved to Tokyo to become a manga artist, but returned to Hiroshima in 1966 to attend his mothers funeral. It was his discovery of the true impact of the radiation from the bomb that inspired him to risk becoming a social pariah by openly discussing his experience of the bomb with the first of his “Black” series, Beneath the Black Rain.
Barefoot Gen is the autobiographical account of his experience of the bomb and radiation. The manga was fraught with problems because of it’s nature and content, and was effectively sidelined by mainstream publications. In 1976 however, a volunteer group called Project Gen was formed, and they took on the task of producing english translations of the manga. In truth, Barefoot Gen was the first manga to be translated and published in english.
The story was later adapted into three live action movies, two animated features, and a TV series, however the first anime movie adaptation remains, to this day, one of the most harrowing versions because of its counterintuitive nature.
As the story in Barefoot Gen is predominantly autobiographical it is difficult to consider it in terms of a normal story. The anime loses out to the manga in certain repects because sections had to be left out, however this in no way takes away from the story which remains an reasonably accurate, if abbreviated, account of Nakazawa’s sof the bomb and its aftermath.
The art style is unusual in that it adopts a more “cartoony” approach compared to other anime, however the movie manages to attain a certain ethereal quality that the manga cannot match, especially in its depiction of the results of radiation sickness. The atomic blast is rendered with shocking clarity, and the transformation of people into “monsters” (from Gen’s perspective), is horrifyingly realised.
Althought production values may be dated (the anime is over 25 years old now), the movie should not be marginalised on the basis of “poor” animation. The cartoon like quality of the characters only adds to the emotional impact, as it is a stark contrast to how “normal” cartoon characters are depicted.
Sound is another area where the movie shows its age. The effects, although well used, can sometimes be overwhelming for the viewer, while at other times the various noises are relegated to the background. This can give the movie a slightly “off-kilter” feeling for some viewers, but for the most part the sound and visuals work well together.
The music is generally good throughout the movie. The various pieces used to enhance the impact of a given scene are generally appropriate and fairly well choregraphed, especially during the more foreboding scenes. The variety of tracks complement the pervading atmosphere of the film, and most surprising are the scenes where music, noise and visuals combine to give the viewer a truly visceral experience.
The characters are a bit of a tricky subject in Barefoot Gen, as they are generally taken from the people that nakazawa met before, during and after the bombing, whilst Gen himself is Nakazawa as a child. Granted, there is obviously a degree of artisitic license with both the design and the portrayal, however this in no way diminishes their impact of the overall movie. Because of this things like character developmentand interaction are difficult to consider, especially given the fact that this is mainly a factual account, and in the absence of of evidence to the contrary, I prefer to think of the characters as “real” – at least, for this movie.
Watching this movie is a truly harrowing experience. There is no real way to “enjoy” this in normal terms, especially given its history and content. Very few movies, especially animated ones, are able to convey the level of emotional impact that Barefoot Gen achieves, and only Grave of the Fireflies or Ushiro no Shoumen Daare can be considered equal in terms of content and viewing experience (although the former deals with the aftermath of the firebombing of Kobe, and is semi-autobiographical in nature, and the latter is more of a historical fiction).
Although there are similarities between those two movies and Barefoot Gen, there are major differences as well. It is extremely difficult to compare any other anime or manga to Barefoot Gen as no other work is taken directly from real life. If you decide to watch Barefoot Gen then you cannot compare it in any way to shows like Neon Genesis Evangelion, Death Note, Akira, Code Geass, or any other popular movie or series. You cannot use normal standards to judge this movie.
In all honesty, Barefoot Gen isn’t something to enjoy, even though it ends on a hopfeul note. This is a movie to be experienced, as it is the story of a boy who has literally seen hell. It is both a lesson and a warning for future generations of the true horror of nuclear and atomic weapons, and I urge everyone, whether you’re a fan of anime and manga or not, to read the books and watch the movie.
The movie opens up on a bright note, beginning with a father and his two boys, Gen, the protagonist of the movie, and Shinji, his younger brother. The opening of this movie is so positive to the point where I was bobbing my head to the catchy opening song, and thinking “Yup, this is definitely going downhill from here.”
It begins off by showing us just how loyal some of the Japanese are to their country, they scream and shout “Banzai” before sending their fellow comrades off to fight the enemy, and then singing what is supposed to be the national anthem. It shows us how loyal the Japanese were to their country, to the point where they just aimlessly take orders, shouting and screaming, and then going off to face a bigger enemy where they could die at any given moment.
Gen and his little brother, like the children that they are, start singing the anthem as well when they hear it, hoping to also be heroes and contribute to their country too. Just like how typical children would act, not knowing of the dangers that await them beyond the horizon of their imaginations. They then become hungry after five seconds of singing and complain about how their bellies are void of delicious sweet potatoes. This shows us how kids have dreams and aspirations they want to fulfill, yet are too weak and immature to understand the hardships that come with life, and how heavy the weight of those aspirations really is.
We see how war brings so many struggles with it, the lack of water and food being a major one. It shows us how two strangers will hurt each other for a bowl of soup, and how even blood related brothers like Gen and Shinji wouldn’t mind doing the same as well, just to shut their hunger up for a while.
This movie has a wonderful cast, and some heart warming scenes. A pregnant woman hugging her two kids, showing us how family is the best thing to have when a person is struggling during very hard times. Things start to go dark after the first alarm in the movie goes off though, as the movie starts to show us how everyone is equal in the eyes of the enemy. From small children to the elderly, nobody is safe from a bullet or two. The scene of a little girl dying serves to show two things: The first being how cruel war can be, even killing an innocent little girl who didn’t do anything wrong. The second being to show the contrast between Gen and the others like his mother, and how immature Gen is compared to the rest of his elder family members. Here is where we start to see Gen’s influence on the main character of Grave of the Fireflies, as Gen suggests to his mother that the enemy is just playing jokes on them, while the mother scolds him for such an ignorant statement, mentioning the little girl’s death to show him how war is everything but a joke. Gen is very naive and does not want to be serious for once, he prefers to think lightly of his situation while everyone else is working hard. Though he actually does learn a lesson or two a couple scenes later, and he actually helps for once by bringing his mother some food, he is still naive, but he’s helpful and willing to go to great lengths for his sick mother.
We get a scene showing us the father’s perspective on why he hates the government. He hates them due to them being madmen and not stopping the war, and honestly I would not blame him, a guy who has children to feed, working all day to provide for them, I feel sad for him because he just wants what is right for his kids and other families that are suffering as well. After that scene, we see a plane start showing itself over the top of the city. When Gen sees the plane, he starts to joke about it, saying how it is a spy plane and is nothing to worry about. Oh boy was he wrong!!! We finally arrive at what I would say is one of the best scenes ever put to animation. How good was this scene… my God. How good it was at showing us how truly disturbing the Hiroshima bombing was. After the plane drops the nuclear bomb, we see some of the most bloody scenes ever put to animation, it’s all the more terrifying when you realize this actually happened and was a real event that went down in history.
It’s mind blowing how five seconds before this we had a happy family, where the sun was shining over normal looking, healthy people, and then we immediately turn 180 degrees. The family is no more, most of the citizens suffered extreme burns all over the body and died, and everything burned down to ashes. Literally the only positive thing was Gen’s change in personality from a naive and immature boy to a man. He’s amazing. The war does not affect him mentally like it did his mother and some other people. He is truly amazing. After seeing his beacon of hope die in front of his eyes, Gen finally realizes that he has to do everything in his power to fill his father’s shoes.
We get to see Gen make relationships after the war, helping other people to earn some money for his mother and his new siblings. Listen, when I say every character gets development, I mean every one of them gets development, even a maggot infested brat does. The thing that kept me happy during all of this depressing movie was Gen’s determination and strong will to help those around him, and how he matures throughout the movie.
This movie is an underrated masterpiece. After comparing this with Grave of the Fireflies, this wins in almost every category. The depiction of war in Barefoot Gen is much better and more terrifying than that of Grave of the Fireflies. The characters are all around way, way better than any of the characters in Grave of the Fireflies could imagine to be, an example being Gen getting much more development than the main character of Grave of the Fireflies. It ends on a good note even though it was very depressing, delivers not just one good message, but many (Never give up even when a nuclear bomb destroys your whole city, think about others who are also in need instead of just selfishly thinking about yourself, question the higher ups and don’t aimlessly follow everything they say, never look back and always keep moving forward etc.)
It did everything right, it impressed me and exceeded my expectations by a long shot.
Barefoot Gen is in my opinion one of the most underrated anime on this site. In the West, it is completely overshadowed by Grave of the Firefly, which is unfortunate because in many ways Gen is actually the superior film! In this review I will be not only looking at Gen, but comparing it to its much more famous and critically lauded brother Grave of the Firefly (Hotaru no Haka).
Pacing and characters:
Barefoot Gen opens by showing the main character, a little boy named Gen, along with his family. Gen has a little brother named Shinji, an elder sister Eiko, a father, and a mother who is currently in the late stages of pregnancy. Barefoot Gen shows the family trying to keep their chins up and appreciate the small joys left in life despite the food shortages and the looming danger of air raids. By spending more time showing happiness and cheerful character interactions than Firefly, it makes the impact of the tragedy even greater when it inevitably occurs. Barefoot Gen is roughly the same length as Firefly, but it feels much shorter, even though it is far more brutal in its portrayal of war. Even people that prefer Firefly over Gen would have to concede that Gen is a better paced film. It is long enough to feel for the characters and connect with them so that the tragedy is painful and horrible, but not so long that it overextends its narrative and drags.
The character Gen is based off the writer of the original Gen manga, who survived Hiroshima as a young boy. Some people criticize the realism of the characters because Gen stays so upbeat in the face of unimaginable tragedy, but that is exactly what he needed to do in order to survive. He wasn’t able to stop and fully process the loss of his family when he was desperately looking for food to keep himself and his mother alive. This isn’t unrealistic, but rather the human survival instinct kicking in. If Gen had pulled a Shinji Ikari, he wouldn’t have lived to later tell this story to us! Gen’s father is based loosely off the author’s real father and is unique in that he dares to criticize the Japanese government for not surrendering when in 1945, it was clear Japan couldn’t possibly win. The father character is strongly against the war, which reflects the attitude of both the author and his real life father. Later Gen meets another little boy named Ryota who I admit brings some tone jarring slapstick out of nowhere. The only area where haters of this film may have a point is that Barefoot Gen does suffer from some SERIOUS mood whiplash. It shows one of the most brutal sequences ever animated in one scene, but has Ryota and Gen roughhousing and laughing about 10 minutes later.
Animation is a visual medium of storytelling, so it is better to show than to tell. Barefoot Gen shows the horrors of nuclear war better than perhaps any other movie ever made be it animated or no. I’m serious! The horrible brutality of melting eyeballs, scorched flesh, maggot infested wounds, and all the stages of radiation poisoning are captured accurately and with an unflinching eye. Barefoot Gen is NOT a good movie to show little kids. The art style is curiously juvenile in order to create a sharp contrast between Gen’s innocence and the horrors of war. Although I see what Barefoot Gen was trying to do, this art style choice may not work for everyone to portray such scenes of carnage. Grave of the Fireflies is a much more polished, larger budget, and better animated film. However, I give Gen the edge here for daring to show in full detail just why nuclear weapons are so horrible and morally unacceptable.
Themes and Politics:
Roger Ebert said that Grave of the Fireflies was one of the greatest anti-war films ever made, and since then American critics have viewed it in that light. However, the writer of Firefly explicitly stated it is NOT an anti-war film saying war in general is bad. He merely wished to show Japanese children the suffering and injustice that Americans did to Japan. He also wished Firefly to act as an Aesop’s fable to tell the unruly Japanese youth of the 1980s to obey and tolerate adults. Japanese audiences were supposed to take away the message that if Seta had put up with his bitchy aunt, he and his sister would have lived. That was the main moral of the movie! Rather than an “anti war” masterpiece, Firefly is a preachy “Obey adults you little brats” film that is extremely anti-American and perpetuates the narrative that Japan was entirely a victim during WW2 to a new generation of Japanese youth. Barefoot Gen on the other hand actually IS an anti-war film that wishes to show that war is suffering, death, and evil. Barefoot Gen shows a balanced view of the war and shows both the innocence of Japanese civilians and the callous cruelty of the Japanese WW2 government, who is just as criticized in the film as the Americans. The reason Firefly lays all blame on the Americans and never says a word of condemnation for the WW2 Japan government is because the writer of Firefly had no qualms with the WW2 Japanese government, unlike the writer of Gen. In terms of themes and politics, it was GEN that deserved our praise all along, NOT Firefly!
The last major difference between Gen and Firefly is how they choose to end. Firefly ends with soul crushing depression and all the characters dying. The beautiful Japanese Empire has been crushed and all good is gone from the world. The characters are all dead, so they don’t have to learn how to move on and rebuild towards a better future. Gen despite the film’s extreme brutality ends with a note of optimism. Wheat is shown growing even though American scientists predicted that nothing would grow in Hiroshima for 70 years. The character Gen must learn like all those who survived the war to deal with the extreme loss and tragedy, as well as build a better Japan from the ashes. Gen doesn’t just lament the beauty that was lost, but asks for such carnage to not be repeated again while working to build a better world. The endings are different because the 2 films have VASTLY different messages, but I must say I strongly prefer Gen’s ending.
Gen may have a few minor flaws, such as a juvenile animation style that some may feel clashes with its explicit portrayal of brutality. Others may dislike the tone shift between the lighthearted scenes and tragic scenes that occur very shortly one after another. I however, think that Gen is an overlooked gem that deserves FAR more praise than it receives in the West. All the praise that was showered on Grave of the Firefly in my opinion should rightfully go to Gen, the superior film!
13: Vampire Hunter D (2000)
English: Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust
MAL Score: 7.89
The story revolves around D, the infamous “dhampir” (born of a vampire father and a human mother) outcast and renowned vampire hunter. His prowess at hunting the creatures of the night allowing his acceptance among humans, he is called upon to locate Charlotte Elbourne, the lovely daughter of an affluent family who has been mysteriously kidnapped.
When the sun sets, the hunt goes on! Charlotte’s father offers a rich bounty, be she dead or alive, a task D willingly accepts, even with notorious Markus brothers and their gang of bounty hunters seeking the prize as well. Amidst the chase and unknown to all lurks, a sinister evil which has been secretly manipulating their every move and has set a chilling trap that none will expect and few will survive. With the tables turned and the secrets revealed, the hunters could quickly become the hunted!
The story seems simple on the face of it, but couched in the plot are beautiful layers of character development. A vampire hunter, D (a dunpeal or vampire/human half breed) is commissioned to recover a rich man’s daughter, Charlotte, who has been kidnapped by a vampire. She is wanted dead (if turned) or alive (if still human).
D meets up with a band of bounty hunters, all of whom have their own special powers, and personal demons. Against them are an array of gypsy monster/vampires. The animation and sound are so good that one feels compelled to watch and rewatch the fight scenes just because they are so well done. Each character is different and their story comes through, the only fault is the minor villains’ motivations could have been made more clear.
The pacing of this movie is excellent, and it is definitely theater quality in all respects. I’ve introduced my friends to anime by showing them this movie, a few have become fans. The only drawback is after viewing this masterpiece, some of them complain it is hard to get other anime of this caliber quality (plot, action, animation, character, sound).
Unlike the original Vampire Hunter D, the Bloodlust movie is gothic, gory, beautiful and touching. Highly recommended to be watched on a big screen, preferably with surround sound. You won’t be disappointed if you rent/download this. It’s so good you’ll want to own a copy to add to your anime collection, as the rewatch value is very high.
D is a half-vampire, half-Mexican–er, wait. Anyway, D is not human but he’s not exactly a vampire. His powers allow him to hunt most other evil vampires and he takes up a mission to save some stupid human girl who wants to get it on with the undead, and so runs away with her vampire lover. While D tries to get the hussy back, a rival gang who also hunts vampires compete with him. This movie was excellence. Watching all the action, the fabulous choreography of the fights were simply jizz-in-your pants worthy.
Art and sound were pure amazing. It looks beautiful, and D can make the straightest of men drool over his beauty, really. He was hotter than the chicks, believe it or not. Sound was cool, felt like I was listening to an epic horror flick. Which I was.
Characters weren’t so hot except for D who we’ve established is walking, delectable man-meat for the ladies and just the sort of guy folks like myself just wanna hang around and kill things with. Anyway, D’s just cool and aloof and can kick all types of behind. The rest of the characters were cool as well, I didn’t have a problem with them, since most knew when to die anyway.
All in all, Bloodlust is the best Vampire Hunter D movie ever. And it is better than you, too.
The dvd available in North America (at least in Canada) is only available in the english dub. For elitetists this is a huge problem, but the dub isn’t terrible, it’s pretty good as far as dubs go.
The theme for this, doomed love, is played so beautifully in this. There were a few scenes that almost moved me to tears. I loved the way the story progressed, they adapt it quite well from the book. The Markus Brothers and Leila also keep the pacing of the story quite well. There are a few scenes with them that really add alot to the story. There aren’t alot of loose-ends, and it ends semi-ambigously but they add a very comforting scene right at the end.
The art in D is good. It’s very distinctive, there are some beautiful subtleties to it. They put alot of time into some of the scenery which really show off the skills of some of these artists. Some of the character designs bug me, villagers all seem to have the same kind of frame and all moved very similarly. But they play a small part in the movie and the Markus brothers have some nice designs.
The gothic soundtrack in this is very nicely composed. It definitely suits everything that happens in this. It greatly heightens all the emotions you would feel anway. It conveys the hope and the hopelessness of it, as well as the darkness of the time.
The characters have changed slightly from the novel. These changes are for the most part quite nice. As far as progression of the story the characters pull them off quite nicely. I had a few problems with the changes that were made, but the changes they made push the anime in a completely different direction. D is how D always is, they don’t change him at all…and they don’t need to.
As far as vampire anime go this one is quite good. They show vampires in both ways, both as super-powerful as well as being weak zombies. So people who like both style of vampire won’t be dissapointed. If you’ve seen the first movie and were highly dissapointed then you definitely need to watch this. It’s a great movie, but if you can’t find the jap audio don’t sweat it too much, the dub is decent.
12: Death Billiards
English: Death Billiards
Japanese: デス ビリヤード
MAL Score: 7.91
Two men have just arrived at a location known as Quindecim and are unable to remember how they got there. They are immediately greeted by a young woman who escorts them to a small bar, where a bartender awaits them. They are told that they will have to participate in a game, randomly chosen by roulette, and will be unable to leave until its completion; if they refuse, the consequences will be dire. In addition to the rules of the game, the two men are told to play as if their lives are at stake.
The game that has been chosen is billiards. But there’s more to it than just pocketing pool balls, as the two are about to find out the outcome could mean life or death.
Madhouse studios must be mad.
A short story of life and death, a story of human life and the illusion of equality. Could it be possible to compress into 25 minutes? Well, it seems it was.
On artistic-wise, visuals were appealing, if not gorgeous. Such details and great work for such a short story, with all the detailed background visuals were something that multiplied the joy.
For a one shot special anime, it would not be fair to judge characters, yet they were not half-baked personages either.
Death Pool (or Death Billards for that matter) uses its visuals perfectly to tell the back story of the characters and their emotions. No need for long speeches and introductions.
Overall, a rare pearl to enjoy.
Death Billiard is like a piece of beautiful diamond between a pile of rough stones, not so many people even aware of this anime (actually me too, until now). Its kinda coincidence i found this one, honestly i found this one when i am looking for some ecchi anime, thats why i said “like found a piece of diamonds in a pile of rough stones”
Anyway, why do i called it like A beautiful diamond? first of all, Death Billiards is just ONE episode anime. One? yeah just one, but its enough to make your head blows up.
The story involves about 2 man (one young man and one old man), they somehow stranded in a room like a bar and with no hope of escaping, they must play a pool game but its not like any other pool game, the bet for the game is their life!
With that synopsis, i feel like its not gonna work if they had to make it into one episode, but suprisingly they made it well. We could feel the emotion of each character and within 25 minutes we got some little flashbacks to make us (viewer) knows the background of those two men. and not just that, i really enjoy watching the story with that elements. Not to mention, an amazing twist that this anime has in the ending.
Not just the story that makes Death Billiards attractive but also the quality of art itself, especially the background. The background were so detailed and beautifully drawn, and not just that, it also strengthen the fear atmosphere. Not to mention from the sound section itself, it brings up the feeling of despair, fear, confused, and something like that.
and Finally, For a short story. Death Billiards is success to package a “complex” story into 25 minutes video. More than that, the quality that they brings is above from average. My conclusion is, this one is surely a MUST WATCH anime.
“A beautiful diamond between those rough stones”
What happens when two people, whether they’re strangers or the closest of companions, are pitted against each other in a seemingly mundane contest, with the stakes being their own lives? Suspicions, outrage, deceit, bargaining, and all manner of psychological warfare commence, all in the name of survival. However, is everything as it appears?
——If you have questions or comments about this review, please message me——-
I feel this episode 0, if you will, should actually be seen after the first two episodes of the Death Parade TV series. That way, one has an idea what’s going on, and who the characters are. Part of the mystery of the one-shot may be dispelled, but it made much more sense and was more interesting and compelling having seen some of the series.
Two persons enter, and play what’s a seemingly unremarkable game, such as darts, bowling, or in this case: pool. The people have no memory of why or how they’ve come to be at the Queen Decim, and are given no explanation of why they’re being forced to play the game; other than that their lives are on the line. The alternative to playing is explained as “not something they want to experience.”
Eventually, after bargaining, attempts at escape, and outright threats, our contestants concede, and begin their life altering game.
Outwardly, we watch two people locked in a simple contest of pool, each demanding no less than victory for themselves, if only for the pride of winning. Inwardly, we see a classic struggle: a clash between souls, with the ultimate reward or price at stake.
The interplay of fear, suspicions, motives, emotions, and the individual thoughts, feelings, and memories that make up the person are a phenomenal conflict within themselves. They lead us to the question- “What will you do to survive?” which everyone can only answer to the best of their ability to do so. Life isn’t fair, and rarely presents an opportunity for two souls to be on equal footing in their struggle, but again, our characters find themselves answering a question- “what is it that I have to live for?”
In this one-shot, we’re introduced to Decim, the white haired, steely composed purveyor of the Queen Decim. The Queen Decim, an enigmatic bar (and character within itself), with a grand ballroom and game theatre whose only entrance is a pair of elevators ordained with a pair of ornate theatre masks- representing heaven and hell.
Decim’s purpose is to ensure that the entrants to the establishment agree to, and carry out their contract to play a random game of chance, enforce the rules, and execute the results. He’s a stony, dispassionate man, and seems to take no joy in the games that he has his contestants undertake.
Our two visitors in this episode are an old man, and a young businessman, each with their own Raison d’être. Neither has a clue as to why they’re in the Queen Decim, playing pool for their life, but both have the same goal: win. As their fates unfold, so do their pasts- their memories begin to return to them- and alters the path that their life henceforth is set on.
Excellently colored. Dark, ominous shades permeate the show. A miasma of blacks, purple, reds, and blues set the foreboding tone. Beautifully hand drawn characters are very consistent, and the anguish, the swell of victory, and the crush of defeat are very evident in the body language and facial designs. Moving.
Soft BGM, appropriately dark and foreboding. Subtly raises the intensity of the visuals. I felt that the moments of absolute silence were the most oppressive: it allowed the character’s speaking to have a much more profound effect, as there were no distractions.
A very intense and emotionally gripping episode. Twists and turns, and while not much makes sense in the beginning, everything is revealed in due time. While a bit dialogue heavy, and metaphorically challenging, it was absolutely enjoyable. It never felt like a chore to decipher the meanings behind, and has a very interesting outcome.
The gloomy atmosphere and sense that something isn’t quite right that surround the show are entirely addictive. Left me wanting more.
I’ve been looking for a new psychological thriller since finishing Ergo Proxy, and I may have found it. Very excited to see where the TV show is headed.
11: Ginga Eiyuu Densetsu: Waga Yuku wa Hoshi no Taikai
Japanese: 銀河英雄伝説: わが征くは星の大海
MAL Score: 7.92
Four months before Count von Lohengramm of the Galactic Empire faced Yang Wen-li of the Free Planets Alliance at the Battle of Astarte, he was still just Reinhard von Müsel. The youngest admiral in the Empire’s history, Reinhard was disdained and dismissed by his peers as the brother of the Kaiser’s concubine.
Upon arriving at Iserlohn Fortress with his expeditionary fleet, Reinhard immediately receives an order from the ambitious and cunning Fleet Admiral Gregor von Mückenberger: to intercept an Alliance fleet in a neighboring starzone. Despite recognizing this as a veiled attempt to get him killed in combat, Reinhard nevertheless orders his tired and weary men to engage the enemy in the atmosphere of the gas giant Legnica. But unbeknownst to him, this will mark the first of his many historic encounters with the Hero of El Facil.
The antithesis of George Lucas’s Star Wars, Legend of the Galactic Heroes: My Conquest is the Sea of Stars begins with a lengthy credit crawl that doesn’t treat the space opera genre as a joke and doesn’t talk down to the viewer, but instead invites you along to a gentleman’s philosophical pondering on the nature of man and war.
Afterwards a brilliant white ship approaches a spherical fortress in space and a character quips, "but damn it’s small," again in direct opposition to Lucas’s own trite: "Look at the size of that thing!" The character who gives us the more restrained quote is none other than Reinhard von Museal of the autocratic Empire, and this quote in a way reflects his entire character succinctly. The universe is something to grasp in his hand and wrest control of, to eradicate others perception of him and to end a war.
In polar opposite to Reinhard, his rival’s appearance is with a pacifistic "don’t we want to avoid the enemy fleet?" to his commander who’s itching for a conflict while on a mission that is primarily a sneak attack. You can’t have an epic rivalry without having mirroring aspects, and these two men are joined by the fact that they dont so much want to win the war as they want to end it. A key distinction that seperates them from their superiors and provides them with the aptitude to win battles because they are not blinded by patriotism.
Yang Wen-Li, of the Republic is like Irresponsible Captain Tylor except he has a heartbeat, doesn’t have a slack-jawed zombie way about him, and doesn’t rely on blind luck to pull him through life. In short, he is a relatable character written well, and the fact that he’s charming to boot, to the point that his office is stuffed with fan-mail, is a comedic plus. His character arc is about shedding that Tylor-esque lackadaisical attitude and to exert more force to his ideals, to essentially take responsibility for the lives of the men around him because he knows he has what it takes.
This movie is also a contrast to the Gundam franchise, with two sides equally explored and developed, no predictable allusions to World War 2 ala "Sieg Zeon!” For a show based on the premise of a 150 year galactic war you’d expect endless dry preachy and predictable dialogue and although sometimes it feels like it veers into that territory, LotGH avoids it with panache. Or humour to be more precise.
It inserts a cynical Joseph Heller Catch-22 type humour into the characters’ mindset, making the show that much more enjoyable to experience. There are many quotable lines of characters lambasting their superiors or the state of war in general. It makes it that much more compelling to see so many people on both sides of the conflict speak out their minds on the futility of what they’re embroiled in, making you the viewer, empathise with them all.
The battles consist of more than just bashing into each other, unrealistic power ups or reliance on military hardware from Anaheim Electronics, etc. They are aided by music that is all classical bombast, giving the show a timeless quality, no matter how dated the aesthetics may appear at times, and honestly it’s hardly noticeable at all if you’re captivated by the narrative itself.
The direction and editing are excellent, and I drool at the idea of this brought to live action with skill and care. A fantasy dream maybe but you can’t help but dream up a cinematic form for such a tale as this. I give a high score for the animation as it’s not technological innovation alone that deserves the highest ranking, but the usage of art as well as its aesthetic quality, and though LotGH isnt going to stand up next to whatever’s humping our eyeballs these days, its still full of amazing space-scapes and visual wonder.
As you can tell from this review, this movie, and by extension the franchise itself, is an antithesis to many other anime or films out there. It’s a marvel, a precious gift from the past, and we as anime viewers should cherish it and herald it. "The battle of these two heroes has begun!" the end credits declare, and so onto the mammoth 110 episode series you must go!
This is what this movie feels like, taking a slight glimpse into a vast ocean full of wonders awaiting you. If the gigantic ocean spanning more than one hundred episodes that is called Legend of the Galactic Heroes represented said ocean, then this particular movie would represent the shore before the galactic wave hits the viewer. It is a small, but intriguing introduction for the viewer to get a taste of what high caliber class the Anime medium could pull off. To put it simply, this movie is a touch of classy; it may not be as classy as the main series, nor is it as gigantic of course, but it still gives off this sense of formality and dependence that the main series would still give off nonetheless. Well thought out tactics, such as the helium incident, are tactics which begin to show themselves early on during this movie, and in turn, they slowly introduce said viewer to what well thought out arcs, tactics, world building and character development this gigantic franchise could pull off.
Speaking of the characters, if you had seen the main series, missed them after completing it and wanted to see more of them yet again after the OVA had ended, then they are all present here. From the egotistical blonde brat Reinhard Von Lohengramm, to his immortal nemesis Yang Wenli. Both of these admirals are shown as the tactical geniuses that they are throughout this movie, exhibiting how experienced and inherently tactical they are when it comes to military warfare and battles. Yang also exhibits some of his pessimistic ways of thinking of himself here, such as his denial of praise when receiving it from his mates, which is also a trait Yang outwardly shows throughout the main series. Unfortunately, the roaster is not that full, because some prevalent LoGH characters are missing in this movie. Julian Minci is the main culprit, but so are other characters missing as well, such as Schenkopp, Frederica Greenhill, the Phezzan cult and Annerose. However, even if some minor fan favorites are not to be found in this movie, the viewer should take note that this wasn’t the intention anyways. This movie was not really aiming to introduce a large cast of characters, since as I said, it was trying to be the sandy shore before a colossal wave hits. It succeeded in fleshing out the two central characters, Reinhard and Yang, and that is all it wanted to achieve in the first place.
Other characters such as Oberstein show up, but barely does Oberstein get any screen time. The scene with him could have been cut out from the movie all together and it would have made no difference, since it didn’t serve to characterize him. We also get a glimpse into the actions of the imperials for a bit, but they barely show any character growth as much as the two central characters. As for Reuenthal and Mittermeyer, they show us the brotherly love they developed for each other during the run of the original series, and how loyal they are to their new Kaiser Reinhard. Finally, as for Kercheis, he follows the Kaiser’s orders to a tee without any hesitation whatsoever, and his loyalty and strict behavior and sense of responsibility are as prevalent here as they are throughout the original series’ run. Even if some characters were not developed, this movie never wanted to do that anyways, it just wanted to show an introduction to one of the greatest rivalries in Anime, and that is what it accomplished.
Regarding the audiovisuals, they are dated more than the series if you take a closer look, but that shouldn’t hinder the enjoyment of the viewer whatsoever, since the art style and the music are both timeless. Even then, the viewer should excuse the Anime since it is so old, and some viewers may choose to watch this after the long series, so it really shouldn’t be much of a problem since the expectations for exquisite animation should not be too high. The length of this movie is quite perfect, and just like the original OVA, it did not need any filler moments in between. It is short and down to the point, which serves as a great introduction to the series.
This movie is so important because it serves as both an introduction for the newcomers and as a short and enjoyable movie for people who so dearly missed our dear Kaiser and his eternal rival. It serves two functions excellently, even though it may be a bit iffy at times, and that is what makes it so important.
This is the answer MCitSoS was made to answer. This is the pilot for LoGH, the first meeting of Yang Wenli and Reinhard von Musel. One hour of a lot of what is great about LoGH. Smart dialogue, engaging fleet battles, and Yang and Reinhard being two ballsy dudes.
This isn’t just for those who want to get into LoGH, though. For those of us who have already watched the 110 episode epic, we get to look back and remember some characters we haven’t seen in a while, and say “Oh yeah, he was a cool dude.”
Is it worth it to watch? Absolutely, yes. Very high quality all around, and thoroughly entertaining. Highly recommended.
10: Trigun: Badlands Rumble
English: Trigun – Badlands Rumble
MAL Score: 7.96
Vash the Stampede is a contradiction. He has a notorious reputation as “The Humanoid Typhoon,” laying anything he comes across to waste on the desolate planet of Gunsmoke. However, Vash is in fact very non-confrontational and kind-hearted, living by a code of pacifism.
Twenty years ago, a high-profile bank heist went sour. The ringleader, Gasback Gallon Getaway, swore to get back at his backstabbing crew and the man who stopped him from killing them: Vash the Stampede. In the present day, the traitorous crew has been living the good life as successful entrepreneurs and politicians. Although two decades have passed, Gasback’s bitterness has not waned as he aims to take them down one by one, by any means necessary.
Just in time to foil Gasback’s plot, Vash has arrived in Macca City. Teaming up with the mysterious Amelia Ann McFly, along with the insurance agents Milly Thompson and Meryl Stryfe, Vash is ready to rumble.
While it was fun to see Vash and the gang again I was really disappointed by this. My major problem was the story-line. It was predictable.
1 – Vash rolls into town, destruction (best part)
2 – Introduce the sex appeal (she’s useless throughout the movie, but she can beat up a couple nameless thugs pretty good)
3 – Introduce the Bad Guy, he has a strange philosophy where destruction and robbery fuel his massive ego
4 – Re-introduce the old mains, who rally to save everyone
5 – Vash rolls in to save everyone at the last second, because only he can.
6 – Sun glances off Vash’s super cool glasses and he wakes away into the desert without water
My problem with this story line is that it has been done over a million and a half times. There are no surprises in the entire movie (except for the part where Vash got shot, but we all knew he hadn’t really died BECAUSE HE’S THE MAIN CHARACTER). I fail to see any creativity in this old re-used excuse to bring back fan-favourites.
Here is what I wanted:
1 – If you’re going to introduce sex-appeal, then let there be sex. Otherwise, give them a use. Give them a personality. Give them something to make me feel like they are a real person and have something to contribute to the story. (Amelie was, admittedly the daughter of the bad guy, but whatever. That’s not enough for me :/ )
2 – Everyone has flaws, except the characters I see in anime/movies/books. Fictional characters seem to have fallen into a cookie-cut staple where they are basic and boring. When was the last time you saw someone seriously fuck up, or kill the bad guy out of rage, or shoot a bullet that missed and ended up killing an innocent, or something I can’t foresee.
3 – It seems to me that anime’s choose to be realistic whenever it serves to aid the plot. Example, Vash never misses a shot, except when its the final bad guy of the movie. A weak example, but I feel if you’re going to introduce realism to an anime, you need to keep it consistent throughout the entire thing. You can’t use it as a plot device, because it cheats the entire story(side note: I hate plot devices, they are boring).
I wanted more from this. I LOVED the original Trigun series, (I especially loved looking for that blasted black cat who was always hiding somewhere in the background of every episode, one of my favorite flavor-pieces of any anime ever). But I found nothing new or interesting in this story. It was nice to see Vash again, but I would have preferred that his memory was preserved in memory rather than tarnished by something new, and dull.
The worst part was probably the story. It is very obvious, every little twist that is. And I don’t just mean that Vash isn’t dead. If that’s a spoiler for you, you’re just strangely not aware of the likelyhood of the main character of a large franchise dying before the movie is even close to over.
Following that, would be the original characters. Like in many films, they lack even the interest that you would feel for a character who was introduced for one episode or chapter of a manga.
Lastly was the music, which while fitting in some ways, was rarely used and not put to good use.
The pacing was also strange. Like many movie adapations, it forgoes most character interaction for extended scenes of nothing. Also, planet gunsmoke now has 3 moons, which I don’t personally recall. It also has a very populated galaxy, which again I don’t recall. There’s like 20 planets on the zoom out, all within a planets distance of each other!
Of course, Vash was made out to be an idiot, rather than just somewhat strange.
While the animation was really good, it just lacked most anything that made Trigun good. And I did watch it subbed, unlike some reviews for it that rated it rather high.
MAL Score: 8.05
The world of dreams can be an incredible window into the psyche, showing one’s deepest desires, aspirations, and repressed memories. One hopeful tech lab has been developing the “DC Mini,” a device with the power to delve into the dreams of others. Atsuko Chiba and Kosaku Tokita have been tirelessly working to develop this technology with the hopes of using it to deeply explore patients’ minds and help cure them of their psychological disorders.
However, having access to the deepest corners of a person’s mind comes with a tremendous responsibility. In the wrong hands, the DC Mini could be used as a form of psychological terrorism and cause mental breakdowns in the minds of targets. When this technology is stolen and people around them start acting strangely, Atsuko and Kosaku know they have a serious problem on their hands. Enlisting the help of Officer Konakawa, who has been receiving this experimental therapy, they search both the real and dream worlds for their mental terrorist.
Those familiar with Satoshi Kon’s work should know he likes to blend reality and illusion. Paprika was no exception, dealing with the dream world via DC mini, a device which can be used to enter someone’s dreams. As expected the dream world Kon created was incredibly imaginative and surreal. Animation and art for this movie was easily the best of Kon’s work as well as most anime. This movie was worth watching just for the animation and surreal world that Kon creates. Music was equally good, creating a haunting yet beautiful atmosphere. Sadly I don’t think its possible to even possible to describe the surreal and imaginative dream sequences in Paprika. However, that’s it, I could go on and on about the movie’s technical merit, but it doesn’t make up for its weak narrative.
Paprika featured highly imaginative imagery and excellent editing that Kon is known for however, what was it all for? If we take out the imagery out of the equation, what do we have left? The basic outline of Paprika’s story was wafer thin and had a painfully obvious twist near the end. In addition, a tacked on romance that made far less sense than even the most surreal imagery that Kon can muster. Chances are you’re thinking “Its all about the execution, who cares about a weak storyline as long as its done well.” Yes, execution is more important and surreal imagery and crazy editing can be used to make an otherwise boring story captivating. For example, Millennium Actress, one of Kon’s earlier works. However, in the case of Paprika the surreal imagery felt like it was the main point and the story/characters were secondary. Also, the imagery didn’t serve any purpose with respects to the story, it was there for the sake of being there and a “plot” to provide it some context.
What I said was only for the main plot line, the detective’s sub plot was sadly far more interesting. Here the use of imagery really suits his story and conflicts, similar in execution as in Millennium Actress. However, something is wrong when a sub plot is more interesting than the main story.
Characters are also pretty weak. The villain was pitifully boring and one-dimensional. Sadly, I can’t say otherwise for the rest of the cast. Also, the development of Atsuko and her romance at the end was so forced it was unbelievable. Once again, this confused me more than even the most surreal imagery Kon can muster. Konakawa (the detective) was the only saving grace in the cast of Paprika. He actually had a decent amount of characterization and actually developed through the course of the movie.
Paprika was a wholly imaginative work that only Satoshi Kon can create. He creates a landscape that was beyond words. This was coupled with amazing technical achievement by Madhouse, the animation studio. However, Paprika failed in terms of story and characters. The visuals didn’t serve much of a purpose with respects to the plot and felt like it was there for the sake of being there. Also, this plot was incredibly superficial and painfully predictable. The tacked on romance and forced character development was equally painfully and confusing. Konakawa was the only saving grace in terms of story and character however, something is wrong when a side character was more interesting than the main story. In the end, Paprika is more like a dream than Kon probably intended. It was captivating during but when it ends you’ll remember only a few visual snippets and forget everything else.
Dreams as a concept have always captivated me, and never before have I seen such a well-done representation of dreams in any form of media. Movies usually treat them as either being pointlessly strange, or pointedly symbolic, but Paprika captures their essence to fascinating effect. Dreams are as much about flow and direction as they are about the immediate situation, and this is something very apparent when watching Paprika, as the dreams flow and change fascinatingly with mundane illogic, moving from one setting to another with only a thematic thread between them. Looking back at my own dreams and how they shift from setting to setting based on the emotional context, and I see that Paprika portrays this perfectly. I can see that the dream sequences were thoughtfully brought to life, and were not just crazy for the sake of crazy. But through all its fanciful imagery and creativity unbound from realism, Paprika has a story behind it that deals with very strong human emotions, and it excellently weaves this emotional content throughout the films, particularly in the dream sequences, where the subconscious expresses the truth behind each character’s external, day-to-day personality.
The way it tells this story is simultaneously a strength and a flaw of the film; on the one hand I am inclined to say that it was obfuscatory in the way it obscured the plot from the viewer. While watching this movie I felt like I was trying to get my head around a particularly long riddle. As I followed it, the only understanding I really got of what was actually going on was in retrospect, and while some may call this clever, I found that not having an idea of the direction of the plot was a detriment. However, given that the movie revolves around the theme of dream analysis, it is also a fitting method of storytelling: the audience itself has to engage in the movie as though it were analysing a dream, and hence can only be understood when looking back at it. However, my advice to anyone planning to watch the movie: pay close attention to the dialogue and symbology of the dreams, because it is all too easy to get caught up in the zany fun of the dream sequences and lose track of the plot.
When it comes to the plot itself, I’m not so enthusiastic. Nor am I so aflame with praise when it comes to the characterisation. Both of these factors are the reasons why I am hesitant to label it as my favourite Satoshi Kon film; Tokyo Godfathers had excellent characterisation, and a simple yet powerful story; and Perfect Blue, with its introverted character study, delivered a great emotional impact. It may well be impossible to create a perfect film, but if these factors had been better incorporated into Paprika, then it would be among my favourite anime films, possibly my very favourite. It is a shame that Satoshi Kon’s vision and creativity is let down by a lack of depth in his characters and stories now, after his consistent accomplishments in the past. I think the main problem was that the movie tried to involve a too larger cast, to whom it could not provide ample depth in its limited feature-length time-frame. The other problem was that there was very little attention given to delivering a sense of conflict, a crucial element to any story. Perfect Blue had the internal conflict of the subconscious and the conscious; Tokyo Godfathers had conflict between its characters and society; and this movie tries to incorporate an antagonist-protagonist conflict, almost as an afterthought, with neither party given enough profundity to their perspectives to make the conflict intense. There was mention of their different ideology when it comes to the exploration of dreams, and a subplot of jealousy, but little more. So the story lacks the optimal ‘beginning -> conflict -> end’ structure, meaning it felt like it just went on and on until it finished, as entertaining as it was.
I have little to say about the technical achievements behind this film, other than the fact that it was fantastic in almost all aspects, with only the score music lacking. It is clear he used the same musical producer behind Paranoia Agent’s score track, and I simply cannot find his style of music appealing; it feels immature and cannot contribute effectively to the mood of the movie. Much better was the use of music in Perfect Blue, the score of which really sold the hauntingly intense atmosphere. The visuals are much better; this is his best looking film yet, with vivid animation and, as expected, brilliant direction.
It was not given enough weight, but I liked the message that dreams are the final sanctity of the human mind, which should not be intruded upon. This movie beautifies dreams, and attaches importance to them (as seen in Atsuko’s acknowledgement of her feelings for Dr. Torataro through her subconscious), and the suggestion that veil between them and reality is sacred really spoke to me, even if it came from the mouth of the antagonist. Paprika is a thoroughly enjoyable, visually captivating movie, which does overwhelming justice to its theme of dreaming, but which has flaws in its plot and characters that prevent it from being a great achievement as a film.
Adapted from a novel of the same name by science fiction author Yautaka Tsutsiu, Paprika takes Kon’s mind-bending style and applies it quite literally to the plot. The story takes place in the near future, where a remarkable device called the “DC Mini” has been invented, which allows people to enter other peoples’ dreams and access their unconscious thoughts; intended for the use of psychotherapists. However, while still in its development, one of the DC Mini prototypes is stolen. Soon, development staff members begin to have their dreams invaded and entangled, and its up to head of development Chiba Atsuko, and her chipper alter ego Paprika, to find the culprit and retrieve the prototype before more damage is done.
This premise works perfectly with Kon’s directing style and the themes he often explores. The movie weaves from dream to reality and back again seamlessly. With the DC Mini giving the ability to enter (or invade) peoples’ dreams and psyches, it becomes increasingly difficult to distinguish between delusion and reality. There are scenes which seem to take place in reality, until something strange occurs, pulling back the curtain to reveal that it is a dream instead. The dissolving wall between the two comes with some serious consequences, as characters slip into madness; becoming delusional and erratic. Kon perpetuates a sense of unease and delirium with colorfully deranged imagery, hallucinatory sequences, and sudden outbursts of insanity, keeping the audience in a state of constant imbalance. And yet there is a certain unhinged joy than comes with the madness. There is something wondrous about unconscious mind and the images it conjures; the limitless possibilities of a dream, and the hidden meanings behind those dreams. Even at their most disturbing, the surreal dreamscapes of Paprika are entrancing.
Our protagonist, Atsuko, is cool-headed; always in control. She maintains a stern, often harsh, but logical and level-headed demeanor. She’s all business, doesn’t have much of a sense of humor, and little patience for the childish irresponsibility of man-child genius Tokita, the inventor of the DC Mini. Or at least that is how she seems on the outside. In stark contrast is Atsuko’s alter-ego, the titicular Paprika. Paprika is a free spirit, more easy going and fun than Atsuko, to the point that the two seem to be completely different people, and not just because of their differing character designs. This contrast is interesting because it shows how a person’s suppressed desires can manifest in spite of (or because) their attempts to keep control over themselves. As much as Atsuko would like to think she has control over herself and everything around her by suppressing her emotions, she’s only being dishonest with herself. The rest of the cast (sans Detective Konakawa), are underdeveloped, yet still likeable and interesting. Tokita adds some nice comedic relief; the two antagonists are really quite interesting, though they would have certainly benefited from more screen time.
There is also a sub-plot involving a detective who Atsuko is treating in unauthorized sessions using the DC Mini. Here, Kon infuses Paprika with his love for movies, ironically enough through a character who claims to hate movies. Despite such claims, Detective Konakawa’s dreams often are movie themed, and his strong objection to movies implies some kind of past trauma. Indeed, as the movie delves deeper into his character, it reveals he has a deep knowledge and connection to movies, but now avoids them because of unfulfilled and broken desires of his youth. The movie reveals this slowly and uncomfortably, often playing out like a therapy session, using motifs such as a reoccurring dream of a murder in a hallway which represents a case Konakawa is currently having trouble solving, or his dislike of the number 17. Konakawa’s character ark also draws a interesting parallels from movies and the internet to dreams; all are places that the human subconscious can escape into. A rather meta concept, considering that you are watching a movie.
Paprika is Satoshi Kon’s most vivid and wildly imaginative work. Kon clearly let go of restraint from the deranged, ever-shifting opening dream sequence. However, that isn’t to say that it is done with no finesse, quite the contrary actually. Even with the free-floating lunacy of the movie, Kon’s cinematic brilliance shines through. The radical transitions from dreamscape to dreamscape, which would look awkward in less skillful hands, flow like water under Kon’s direction. The imagery is dazzling (if at times unsettling), and incredibly creative, sometimes frighteningly so. The chase scene in which Paprika is being pursued by the antagonists through multiple shifting settings is a breathtaking showcase of the movie’s visual ingenuity. As is the movie’s crazed grand finale, which features one of the main characters growing from infancy to adulthood while absorbing another character’s dreams. There are also some crafty motifs the movie implements to set mood and tone, notably the crazed parade that is assimilating all other dreams. This all comes together to create a unique controlled chaos of visual imagination that is impossible to forget. It’s also worth noting that the movie has the coolest opening credits I’ve seen, with Paprika taking a tour of the city in a way only she can.
The sweeping electropop soundtrack by Susumu Hirasawa is fittingly strange, but also grants the movie a sense of grandeur. The music has an odd, otherworldly texture which works very well in a movie that spends most of time roaming through the realm of dreams and human consciousness. Interestingly enough, some of the vocals were produced using vocaloid, which doubtlessly contributed to the music’s strangeness. Of special note is the bouncy track titled ‘Meditation Field’ that accompanies the opening credits, and the bizarre ‘Parade’ which plays as people descend into madness or when that crazy parade of dreams shows up.
Though sometimes a bit convoluted, Paprika is an eye-popping, cerebral extravaganza that never fails to impress and entertain. More than simply a piece of eye-candy, the movie invokes some interesting ideas about dreams and the human psyche. Both Atsuko and Konakawa illustrate some fascinating insights in how people lie to themselves or bury the unpleasant, and what repercussions that might have. Paprika is just exploding with creativity, brimming with imagery straight out of your wildest dreams, and endlessly entertaining. It’s a fitting final work for a great master.
8: 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.
7: Toki wo Kakeru Shoujo
English: The Girl Who Leapt Through Time
MAL Score: 8.16
Makoto Konno is in her last year of high school, but is having a hard time deciding what to do with her future. In between enduring the pressure of her teachers and killing time with her best friends, Makoto’s life suddenly changes when she accidentally discovers that she is capable of literally leaping through time.
Toki wo Kakeru Shoujo follows Makoto as she plays around with her newfound power. However, she soon learns the hard way that every choice has a consequence, and time is a lot more complicated than it may seem.
However, everything has a consequence.
Even the seemingly most insignificant and puerile of acts can have grave consequences, as such acts are often made out of ignorance or selfishness; both which are traits that rarely bring out a good result if actions are based on them. Our heroine has to learn this the hard way, as she sees how fateful her so-called insignificant acts are, and how wrong she is in her childish beliefs. What she want is merely to keep the fun times around; with her and her two beloved friends. She wants time to stop, to remain in the present. However, time is inexorable; the future is relentlessly closing in on us. And she has to learn this the hard way. But she learns. Through hardships, through death, and most important of all, through love, she learns that the future is not something to be avoided. Rather it is something to be cherished; something one should embrace.
And that is the basics of the plot and characters in this story; a girl who repeatedly travels back in time to keep the times as they are, and actually learns during this process that it is better to look forward and into the future rather than intransigently dwell on the present. Her two friends aren’t focused on that much, but both are portrayed beautifully when they are, both the though-shelled Chiaki and the obliging Kousuke. Accompanying the beautiful plot is a standard-fare movie animation; which means beautiful and detailed landscapes, cityscapes and backgrounds. And while character movements are fluid, the designs themselves are a bit lackluster, and should have been more detailed. The soundtrack which follows on top is equally beautiful, with serene piano tracks accompanying the at times laughter-provoking and at times melancholy story, and a somewhat expected, yet beautiful ending theme.
Toki wo Kakeru Shojo is a beautiful movie, which is good for many things, but especially its underlying hints about looking towards the future and accepting that the present will change as well as the simple message that every act has a consequence; especially childish and ignorant acts at that. And even if such themes does not interest you, I think this beautiful story is well worth spending one and a half hour of your life watching.
Although the character art is simple, I love it <i>because</i> it is simple and clean. The backgrounds, environment, and special effects are a different thing entirely. They are rendered in such gloriously realistic detail. The landscapes, the classrooms, the streets — I have never seen such detail in an animated film. It makes things like Beowulf and Final Fantasy: Advent Children look really silly.
The movie also has such beautiful sound. The effects are perfect and clear. This is topped off by one of the most beautiful soundtrack and score I’ve ever heard outside of…well, nothing! The music is so appropriately poignant at times that I almost cried from it, fifteen minutes into the movie. I actually knew, glowing reviews aside, fifteen minutes in, that it was going to be a wonderful film. I mean, if the music can make goosebumps rise on my arms, then it can probably save even a disaster of a film — which this is certainly not. The ending theme is the most appropriate song ever written for any anime. Ever. Just listening to it makes me go "awwwww" and I really want to find it. I’m making it my mission. It’s like a direct line to Makoto’s head at the end, and made me cry all over again. I’m really not normally a sap, but I’m very sensitive to music, and this movie’s music is just so awesome. Not in a grandiose and sweeping sense, but in a gentler, more subtle way. (In fact, subtle describes this whole movie: subtle but effective.)
The characters are also very well-written, complemented by good voice actors. Chiaki’s has a tendency to mumble so much, I can barely understand him sometimes, but it actually fits his character well. They’re quite convincing as high-schoolers, though, and I love how they were all created so realistically, without following any staple formulae or types. They’re all just…normal, even though two of them can do very abnormal things.
Though the plot itself is very simple, the way the characters develop throughout the seemingly minor conflicts (and that big, heart-pounding one toward the end) gives the story incredible depth. And when it reached the ending, I didn’t want it to end but, at the same time, I felt the ending was perfect. I’m a sucker for this type of ending: very, very hanging. Like most of the novels and movies and anime I like, the movie ends just when another story is about to start — the rest of Konno Makoto’s life. I mean, the movie is set within two or three days, I think, though with the time leaps it may feel like it takes place for a much longer period of time. Those days are when Makoto is merely poised at the threshhold: summer is drawing near, school is almost out, and they have to decide on their majors. Yet what happens in that short time is so profound that I’m sure it will affect the rest of her life.
Toki wo Kakeru Shoujo also drives home a message. The line "time waits for no one" is mentioned several times during the course of the film, and by the end it makes sense why the writer chose that line. That there is no time like the present seems like such a cliche, but when we can’t leap through time and change events to suit us, the present is all the time we have. We have to cherish each day as it comes and each person as they are, for how do we know that by tomorrow they won’t be gone?
Our protagonist, Makoto, is having a bad day. She woke up late. She flunked a quiz. She got into an accident while trying to cook tempura, another student was tossed into her, sandwiching her between two other students for a while and she heard strange sounds when turning in some questionnaires only to find no one in the next room. Things take their worst turn when her bike’s brakes fail and she’s tossed in front of an oncoming train. That’s when she finds herself back in the past a couple minutes before the accident. Her aunt tells her that it was a time leap, but Makoto doesn’t believe such a thing is possible until, after some experimentation, she discovers how it works. She puts on a cricket uniform with celery in the lapel and leaps through time and space in search of adventure.
Actually, she uses her new found power to do better on tests, perform better at baseball, have fun and, most importantly, avoid slightly awkward situations. Yeah, our protagonist is neither smart nor creative. At first, she’s having a lot of fun but then she learns that her actions are having consequences, as actions are liable to have. Yeah, about half the film is made up of Makoto using her powers to mess around in relatively innocuous ways and the other half is comprised of her trying to fix things that go wrong. Honestly, it’s pretty boring. You keep expecting something interesting to happen with it, but it never does. There is one genuinely dramatic moment, but it doesn’t even last ten minutes. The main romance is kind of stupid and doesn’t make a whole lot of sense given the circumstances presented.
Our cast is bland. Really, really bland. None of them are particularly interesting, but none of them are obnoxious or terrible characters either. There’s just nothing that makes them distinguishable from other characters we’ve seen thousands of times, if not more. Makoto is an idiot who gains a really amazing ability but can’t be bothered to think of anything to do with it aside from playing around. Her friends are the generic nice, reliable guy and the generic off-putting guy with a good heart. Then we have all the secondary characters like the supportive friend, the shy girl and so on.
The art is really good with nice detailed backgrounds and character designs that, though simple, look good. The time traveling effect is appropriately strange and is also well animated.
The voice acting is competent. None of the actors give really exceptional performances, but none of them do badly either. They all do decently. The music is also okay. It doesn’t really stand out in the slightest either positively or negatively.
There is no ho-yay in this. 1/10.
The Girl who Leapt through time is a hard film to discuss. Not because it’s complicated but because it’s tedious and generic. It’s a story about time travel where the time travel is never used in either an interesting or a creative way. It’s like a mystery story where the detective solves minor mysteries that don’t really have any impact. Sure, you can do it but you’re going to have to have really strong characters to pull it off. Not the rather generic cast you get in this. That being said, there’s nothing really wrong with the film. In the end my rating is going to be a 5/10. It’s average. If the concept of a girl traveling through time to make her everyday life better appeals to you, check it out. If you want something more compelling out of your time travel stories, stick to Steins;Gate, Back to the Future, The Time Machine, or any number of other stories. Tomorrow, film festival week ends with a look at a certain film involving cyborgs.
6: Cardcaptor Sakura Movie 2: Fuuin Sareta Card
English: Card Captor Sakura Movie 2: The Sealed Card
Japanese: 劇場版 カードキャプターさくら 封印されたカード
MAL Score: 8.21
For this year’s Nadeshiko Festival, Sakura Kinomoto’s elementary school class is presenting a play. She will portray a princess who struggles to respond to the love confession of the neighboring country’s prince. Sakura empathizes with her character all too well, since she herself still owes an answer to the boy who confessed his love for her four months ago.
When cousins Shaoran and Meiling Li return from Hong Kong to pay a surprise visit to their friends in Japan, Sakura receives further encouragement to finally declare her feelings. However, she is repeatedly distracted by a presence reminiscent of a Clow Card as well as unexplained disappearances around town.
Eventually, Sakura learns of another of Clow Reed’s creations—the “Nothing”—which was formerly sealed away beneath the magician’s old house. It has power equal to all 52 cards Sakura possesses, and furthermore, it wants to take those cards away from her! Objects, space, and people disappear from Tomoeda with each card that is stolen. Sakura sets out to capture the Nothing so everything will return to normal, but what must she sacrifice in the process?
Story 10/10: The story was a lot more gripping to me than the first movie, mostly because this movie was a direct sequel to the series. I truly enjoy the relationship between Syaoran and Sakura and was rather disappointed in how the series ended, without Sakura being able to say how she felt about him. Another thing I was afraid of with this movie is that it would feel like a giant monster of the week, but I felt that the antagonist and the conflict in the story were rather unique as far as the series is concerned and it was interesting enough to not bore me within the first half hour.
Art 10/10: This may be a little biased, but I’ve always been a fan of CLAMP’s art. The problem with a lot of anime movies is that they get such a bad rep that the funding for the movies are significantly less than the series. As such, many times you’ll find that a movie based off an anime series has lowered animation quality than the series itself. I was really glad, then, when I found no quality loss in this movie. It’s still as bright and flashy as the series and the characters haven’t started to suffer from Anime Movie Deformity Syndrom.
Sound 9/10: Something that’s always kind of bugged me about this movie is that every version I’ve seen of it, the sound quality is drastically lowered. It isn’t as bad as the first movie, but it sounded like it was recorded playing out of speakers and then THAT recording is what was played in the series. I mean, it isn’t the worst sound I’ve ever heard, but it was enough to break the perfect 10 record I’m giving this series.
Character 10/10: I’ve always loved this series’s characters. CCS characters have always been really unique and vibrant, catching my attention very easily. They all have their own pros and cons that don’t fit easily into anime stereotypes. For this movie in particular, since they were exploring unknown territory, such as the deepening relationship with Syaoran and Sakura, I was afraid a lot of out-of-character experiences would occur, where the characters weren’t acting at all in their personality. Thankfully everything was pulled off without changing personalities or giving you a bad taste in your mouth.
Enjoyment 10/10: I think this is just a summary of what I’ve been saying all along: I thoroughly enjoyed this movie. The characters were wonderful, as was the story they were wrapped in, and the art and music weren’t enough to turn me away from it. I love watching this movie again and again, and I hope you will too.
The movie takes place after the anime TV series, where Sakura is still reflecting on Li’s confession from before he moved… Yeah. One day Sakura notices a presence while walking around with Tomoyo at an amusment park which was being built where a character of the series previously lived, and there she meets Li, who is visting from Hong Kong with Meilin. As the movie goes on, Sakura makes several attempts to tell Li how she really feels about him, and during this time she notices that her Sakura Cards are starting to disappear, and that a 53th card is behind it all….
As I watched the plot of the movie unfold, I had a serious case of deja vu. Why I don’t know, it could possibly be that the plot had something of an inkling to the previous movie where the antagonist of the story was taking things away from Sakura, actually, I think that’s what it was. Anyway, that aside, the plot was alright, it was good enough to keep my attention, though I was also watching to see if there was any real advances in Sakura’s and Li’s relationship…
Well, this is probably the part of the review that I dislike the most, since I always say the same thing. But anyway, the animation was the same as the TV series, so I didn’t feel like I was watching something totally different, though I wasn’t sure if I was looking at the same Yue. The coloring of the backgrounds fitted their respective scenes (does that make sense?), though some parts did seem dark and… yeah.
Background music was okay, though I don’t really remember any of it (despite the fact I just watched it) except for the dramatic parts, which were good. I absolutely loathed the vocal insert songs and I didn’t really pay attention to them.
…I watched the dub to this, and I sort of regret doing so, not because I thought they were bad, but because I simply wasn’t really used to them, which happened with another series that I watched. I also thought that Sakura’s voice could’ve been a little… lower… But I loved Eriol/Eli’s voice, which is some proof of me not being used to the voices since I haven’t heard his voice in the series. However, I do have to note that the pronouncations of the names in this movie were accuate, or more so than the series, though I’m not sure what Eriol’s name is anymore…
Erm. The characters do remain true to their TV series and manga counterparts, Sakura being a bit dense, and Tomoyo being… well, Tomoyo. Their interations, especially Li and Sakura’s are very cute, since it’s young love, and you know that you have to go “Aw….” when you see it, or you’re like me and you giggle, especially with the movie’s closing line.
The antagonist, the Nothing/Nameless/Whatever Her Name Is Card is probably my favorite character because she does seem rather human, she’s not being evil for the sake of being evil, it’s because she wants her friends back, and yeah… You can’t really help but feel sorry for her.
I can’t really say that I really really loved this, but I think that it was okay. The sound really brought it down for me, and at times I did want to stop watching, but I kept on watching because I didn’t want to drop it…
The Good: Ah… Probably characters. They are just cute and lovable!
The Bad: …But I didn’t enjoy their voices all that much, nor any of the background music…
i really love the works of CLAMP, especially cardcaptor sakura.
in the anime, syaoran grew a warm feeling for sakura and when he confessed, sakura was at first, confused but in the end, she knew what she also feels for him. the ending was kinda “bitin” but still, i’m satisfied with it…
then, i saw this movie. i was really excited to watch it and witness the continuation of their lovestory.
i won’t spoil anyone esp those who didn’t watch it yet but i’m telling you it’s really a happy ending for them.
the movie is really heart-warming and “nakakakilig”.
i was “kinikilig” the whole time and i’m super-duper satisfied with its ending.
they finally heard each other’s feelings…they finally told “it”. 😀 got the hint?
5: No Game No Life: Zero
Japanese: ノーゲーム ノーライフ ゼロ
MAL Score: 8.25
In ancient Disboard, Riku is an angry, young warrior intent on saving humanity from the warring Exceed, the sixteen sentient species, fighting to establish the “One True God” amongst the Old Deus. In a lawless land, humanity’s lack of magic and weak bodies have made them easy targets for the other Exceed, leaving the humans on the brink of extinction. One day, however, hope returns to humanity when Riku finds a powerful female Ex-machina, whom he names Schwi, in an abandoned elf city. Exiled from her Cluster because of her research into human emotions, Schwi is convinced that humanity has only survived due to the power of these feelings and is determined to understand the human heart. Forming an unlikely partnership in the midst of the overwhelming chaos, Riku and Schwi must now find the answers to their individual shortcomings in each other, and discover for themselves what it truly means to be human as they fight for their lives together against all odds. Each with a powerful new ally in tow, it is now up to them to prevent the extinction of the human race and establish peace throughout Disboard!
Great story but it definitely feels rushed even with 2 hours. Tet recalls the story of 6000 years ago before he becomes the one true god and it pretty much explains who everyone is and the survival of imanity, however, they just go over way too many things and loses the entire “no game no life” part of NGNL. To elaborate, they have to cover the great war, romance between two characters, and focus on several characters in just 2 hours, which isn’t enough imo. What really pushed this movie from a 7 to an 8 was the fact that it was a recollection done by Tet, who makes an appearance at the beginning and at the very end, which may explain the amount of content covered. Still interesting and very enjoyable though.
To me NGNL will always be way up there in art, the colors and the unique designs and fantasy setting all work together to create a vivid and interesting experience and NGNL Zero does it even better. The setting is much darker than the original, but it was still an incredible experience to see in theaters to say the least.
Sounds were great and built up was on screen nicely. The ost playing as Tet concludes his recollection really made an impact, however, none of the OST’s in the core part of the movie stood out as some of the more iconic themes did in the anime.
This was another problem for me with the anime, as all the characters were great, except Shuvi, which is somewhat of a problem as she’s our heroine / Shiro replacement. Her entire premise as an ex-machina, and robot yet human felt out of place and just continues to feel out of place while she develops. As for the others, a majority of the characters resemble the cast of the original NGNL anime (since they’re technically their ancestors), and to top it off, the movie has a much nicer looking, less annoying Steph.
I point out a lot of the issues I had with the movie and the truth is it was great. I`m probably going to go see it again before I`m out of Japan but it`s something you have to see if you even somewhat enjoyed ngnl.
Btw if you saw it in theaters(Japan) you can buy goods and you even get a free little manga-like mini-pamphlet for free. Pretty nice!
The story is well written for both anime and Light Novel; Volume 6, content delivery is very good and easy to understand. However, it is important to watch the TV anime before proceed to the movie since not everything explain from scratch.
Art : 10/10
If you like colorful anime you know NGNL have it but dark-themed of NGNL surprisingly went along with the story theme. It’s the great war after all. Well drawn background and coloring, expected nothing less.
Character : 10/10
This part might containing a spoiler however reading this will not spoiling your experience.
Author, or rather Tet, made Riku and Shuvi similar to Sora and Shiro, keep in mind that they are not same person ( same VA though ) and Tet mentioned that he alter the story a bit so that the REAL story remain untold. In reality, probably that actually Riku and Shuvi look nothing like Sora and Shiro, but since it is 6000 years ago, the story look more interesting if the character similar to someone that we already know, Sora and Shiro. If they created entirely new character, we might not get the similar experience. ( Can you imagine an NGNL without loli heroine? )
Sound : 8/10
The sound is good, but not great. The OST goes well with anime with good impression but there’s nothing catchy. If you fall in love with the anime, sound is not something that you’ll hype, still it is good.
Enjoyment : 10/10
Watched this twice at cinema, further explanation is not required.
Overall : 10/10
This one will require math. Total of my score before is 48 which when divided by 5, resulting in 9.6 and after rounding off it, 10.
No Game No Life (TV) is, to me, a flashier version of the detested Sword Art Online as both anime share many similar strengths and faults. These similarities include poor pacing, overpowered characters and an outstanding soundtrack. However, unlike Sword Art Online which, aside from the gradual deterioration of its concepts, has relatively consistent quality, No Game No Life throws many of its strengths out in No Game No Life: Zero, the prequel to the TV series.
One of the most noticeable changes is the shift from a vivid palette to a duller one which helped enforce the movies more serious and dismal tone. Unfortunately, despite the visual adjustments, the writers could not get this tone across as the utilized poorly placed jokes to lighten the mood. These jokes, though humorous, ruined almost all of the more serious, melancholic moments this movie had to offer, altering the atmosphere and creating a lighter tone. These tone setting (and ruining) jokes made the visual modifications futile as the only offered to deduct from No Game No Life: Zero’s quality.
The creators of No Game No Life: Zero, despite changing the palette, fail to improve the overall caliber of its animation, keeping its quality relatively the same as the TV shows. This lack of color, however, expresses the negative aspects of the movies animation as it flaunts the numerous errors that passed us by in the first season. These poorly animated scenes, though prevalent in the TV series as well, were less prominent as the series used vivid colors and unique backgrounds to divert our attention from their errors. However, without the palette No Game No Life is so well known for, this facade is easily seen through.
Battles in No Game No Life: Zero are the exception when it comes to the animation quality as it revives many of the shows vivid colors and combines them with fluid animation. Many of these astounding fight scenes were, unfortunately, ruined by the CGI that accompanied them. Though I don’t believe this CGI is necessarily bad when compared to many other anime, I do feel CGI itself has a long ways to go before it can consistently and excellently be implemented into anime without ruining its overall quality. This poor CGI animation was only made more evident because of its brighter pigmentation, creating a stark difference between it and the somber background of the show.
Aside from their shabby attire, the characters themselves are quite aesthetically pleasing, using many of No Game No Life’s original character designs as templates for No Game No Life: Zero, retaining at least some of the artistic choices the series is so well known for. The characters themselves, however, are riddled with a multitude of flaws.
One of the more noticeable flaws these characters exhibit is their lack of rational thought. Throughout the movie, almost every character, both main and side, make irrational choices that only serve to push the plot forward. Riku, for example, uses his anger at the world (and how unfair it is) and presumed thirst for vengeance as the driving forces behind his will to survive. However, despite knowing Schwi was the one who destroyed his town and forced his neighbors underground, he is willing to take her in and care for her. This hatred and fear for AI among the humans is also demonstrated when Riku forces Schwi to conceal her identity from the rest of his group for her own safety.
Similarly, Schwi, hoping to learn about the human “heart” leaves her swarm, cutting off all connection to them to be with Riku.Why an AI, which is known to only make rational decisions, left in the first place and why she was allowed to, however, is never explained. What is explained, upon Riku and Schwi’s first encounter, is that Schwi is under the misconception that to understand the human heart she needs to have sex. This misunderstanding prompts her to consistently request Riku’s body. Surprisingly, it is later revealed that Schwi is incapable of having sex, making her reasoning for leaving the safety of the swarm in a chaotic world pointless (and therefore irrational). Why Schwi left her swarm to understand the heart despite physically being unable to (because of her misconception) is also beyond me and the rationale behind it is never explained within the anime.
No Game No Life: Zero’s cast also lacks a backstory of any kind. What Schwi did in the swarm, how Riku survived the destruction of civilization despite being a human child and how he becomes the leader of his group of dwellers (among many others) are never addressed and are only there for plot convenience. Without Riku having survived we couldn’t have had this story, without seeing Schwi’s actions in her swarm we can grow to like her (as she presumably made some inhumane choices which is why Riku is wary of revealing her identity to his fellow humans) and without Riku being his clan’s leader, he could never have ordered his allies to die for his sake and therefore would never have fallen into as depressed a state as he did (if he had still managed to survive) therefore giving him little to no motivation.
Regardless as to whether you want to know the backstories of the characters or not, their futures are just as poorly written. Aside from the cute and entertaining interactions between Schwi and Riku, there isn’t much depth to their relationship. In the anime, you see the dynamic duo meet and their first interactions and then there’s a one year time slip that leads to an anti-climactic confession.
At this point you’re probably extremely confused and are asking yourself, “What time skip?” I myself didn’t actually notice it but, researching the anime on several different sources, I discovered there is a major one hidden within the anime as the movie itself spans roughly a year and a half. What exactly happened over this year, however, is left up to speculation.
This major time skip, however, affects the shows pacing dramatically as it rushes major events with little to no actual build up. Because this movie also tries to cover such an enormous amount of events in so little time, the buildup and excitement meant to be felt in a lot of these scenes is lost and the anime itself feels rushed as it jump from one major plot point to another.
To make up for the lack of emotion presented in and around (chronologically) these major scenes, No Game No Life: Zero implements multiple “shock factors” to move the audience. A prime example of this is with Ivan, a deceased human whom we see sacrifice himself (at Riku’s command) so that others might survive on an outing during the first 5 minutes of the movie. Apart from knowing his loyalty to Riku and his clan, the only thing we really know about Ivan is that he has a (presumably young) daughter. After this scene ends (where Riku and another young man escape the crashed Dwarven ship), the anime cuts to a makeshift classroom where a young girl proudly proclaims that she can write her own name and can’t wait to show her father. Aside from this and a name, nothing else is known about poor little Nonna.
The movie then transitions to Riku’s return where Nonna rushes out to greet her father. The father who didn’t come home. The movie then tries to play this off as Riku’s breaking point (ruining it with a bad joke mind you), making us feel pity for both him and Nonna; characters we know next to nothing about.
Emotionless scenes similar to that one are abundant in No Game No Life: Zero as they express where certain characters relationships are in the movie. However, because of the time skips, these relationships aren’t fully expanded upon or developed and we’re left with poorly written shock factors and our own assumptions to fill in the multitude of blanks.
To make up for its poorly written “emotional” scenes, No Game No Life: Zero implements a heart wrenchingly beautiful soundtrack. Though the songs themselves aren’t as catchy or memorable as the TV series, they’re much better at eliciting the desired emotions from the audience. Unfortunately, No Game No Life: Zero, despite boasting a beautiful soundtrack, misuses its OST which, more often than not, takes more from a scene than it gives to it. Music in most anime (including No Game No Life: Zero) is meant to add to the scene and the dialogue but, in No Game No Life: Zero, the music competes with the actual dialogue for the limelight. This competition takes a lot away from the scene and I found myself becoming much more emotional because of the unbearably loud music than the actual dialogue or story it was supposed to be aiding in the delivery of.
Overall, despite being satisfied with the concepts No Game No Life: Zero had, I found the experience ruined by a multitude of factors ranging from poor writing to poor volume control. These negative aspects took so much from the actual experience of the movie that I just couldn’t bring myself to enjoy it, especially as it became more evident that my burning questions wouldn’t be answered.
4: Sennen Joyuu
English: Millennium Actress
MAL Score: 8.26
At the turn of the millennium, Ginei Studio’s dilapidated buildings are set to be demolished. Ex-employee and filmmaker Genya Tachibana decides to honor this occasion with a commemorative documentary about the company’s star actress: Chiyoko Fujiwara, the reclusive sweetheart of Shouwa Era cinema. Having finally obtained permission to interview the retired starlet, an enamored Genya drags along cynical cameraman Kyouji Ida to meet her, ready to put his lifelong idol back in the spotlight once more.
Hidden in this secluded mountain retreat is a thousand years of history condensed into one lifetime, waiting to be narrated. Chiyoko’s recollections take them on an illusionary journey through Japanese cinematic history that transcends the boundaries of reality; the saga of her acting career intertwines with her filmography, the actors in her life blend seamlessly with the characters on screen, and the present melds with the past. Though the actress may have retired at the height of her career 30 years ago, the curtain on her life’s stage has yet to fall.
The story follows a pair of filmmakers who are interviewing a famous actress who has been retired for many years to celebrate the studio’s 70th anniversary. Millennium Actress features one of the most original story telling methods I have seen. We see the majority of the movie told through the actresses various movie roles. We shift from feudal Japan, World War 2, and a futuristic moon base, amongst others. You are never actually sure what is real and what is the movie all the time. I also found it interesting that the two filmmakers were always observers during the entire process. Their presence provided an interesting way of narrating the story and kept the viewer from getting confused by the constantly changing scenery.
Though many will perhaps not be able to relate to Chiyoko’s devotion to a man that she hardly knew anything about, I still never felt as though it was too farfetched. Whether or not she truly loved him the way one might feel for a lover is beside the point. Her love is what shaped the remainder of her life and allowed her to accomplish the things she had. I think this is summed up best by her last lines from the film when she comments that finding him was not that important, because it was the chase that she loved the most.
The two filmmakers Genya and Kyoji provide a nice anchor for the viewer. Of the two Genya is the most important and as the story unfolds we learn about his past and why he idolizes Chiyoko. As for the object of Chiyoko’s devotion we really learn little about him other than has ultimate fate. I think it was a good decision from a storytelling standpoint because his mysterious nature was what kept her looking for him.
The art was really exceptional. There were sometimes that some of the backgrounds looked like actual photographs and perhaps they were but they seamlessly fit in with the rest of the animation. The film as does a wonderful job at portraying many different settings. Everything feels so authentic from the prewar Japan costumes and architecture to the 50s styling and fashions.
Overall I really can’t recommend this movie enough. I don’t think its appeal is limited to just shoujo and romance fans. Give this movie an hour and a half, you will be glad you did!
Millennium Actress is a film that can easily be called great. It is outwardly audacious and seemingly gorgeous in nature.
Though frankly, Millennium Actress comes across as something that would be praised as long as the aesthetics are nice, the plot is convoluted and that it is directed by Satoshi Kon. As ridiculous as it might sound, this is a genuine statement after coming to a conclusion: the movie’s fans are often completely oblivious of any criticisms, and their belief that this movie is a magnum opus will not change due to the mentioned reasons. Of course, about the said belief, I beg to differ.
The story is quite average. If I should be honest, this is the kind of plot that I would consider dreary and uninspiring for how frequent it is recycled in Hollywood, so I see no point in magnifying it. It’s just not special, but it has a heart, and that’s what matters. I can clearly see where they were trying to go with, and so the intention is clear and rightfully consistent throughout. Unfortunately, this also means the movie is predictable and has virtually nothing to anticipate other than “does the actress meet her love?”, which is kind of a dull two-sides-of-a-coin. Nevertheless, it is still a movie that feels complete and satisfying regardless. Also, paying homage to Japanese cinema is no good excuse for an average story, though it’s nice and somewhat exciting to feel such radiated, genuine affection of Kon towards the pridefully rich cinema history.
The execution, however, is arguably poor. As thin and uninspiring as the story is, the execution barely does anything to embrace it (unlike in, say, Tokyo Godfathers). To be fair, all the director does for the movie is dragging this nonexistent storyline for an hour and a half. And so coming upon the second problem, the expendable convoluted nature of the narrative. For a story with barely any philosophical weight or plot development, the messy confusing narrative is just absolutely pretentious. “Oh but it’s gorgeous, and it merges reality with memories…” well, fair enough. But this naturally would beg a question, “Why confusing, necessarily?”. While acknowledging that by the end of the actress’ life, she can recall the events so vividly and can’t differentiate what’s real and what isn’t; yet forasmuch as this whole sequence solely focuses on that concept itself without even bother to have a wider, or deeper reach, it gives the audience no insights or depth other than the actress’ very simplistically discernible state of mind. This would have been so much more thematically powerful if it had included an actual psychological emphasis, and that the acting career emergence didn’t just take up the whole second half for nothing. When an idea so superficial being told so grandiosely, it will inevitably give the impression of being overly self-indulgent. To me, the complexity (or just convoluted, not complex) in this movie has not much depth or thematic ideas.
The characters are fine. They are fun and likable enough to lead the audience till the end, but none of them were even remotely profound or memorable. Some parts of the scripts are honestly so corny. I could forgive everything these hombres verbalize throughout the movie, but for the last line, I simply couldn’t. It’s just melodramatic and corny and foreseeable. Unforgivable.
The tone is clearly a craft of dexterity by a truly talented director. Kon knows exactly how and when to implement comedic relief, or to build up our expectations for an emotional impact. And so, thanks to the tone, the story seems to flow much more seamlessly. Still, this is insufficient as a saving grace for an overall poorly-written and executed movie.
Nonetheless, taking all that aside, we actually have quite a fantastic audiovisual piece of art. The animation is flawless and the art is not your typical degenerate garbage (not trying to sound disrespectful, but it really does look mature and visually intriguing). The music is really good and generally well used. I have no major complaint about the production value and perhaps am even more than enthusiastic to praise this truly astounding audiovisual spectacle. I can rest assured anyone who watches this movie would concur.
That said, this movie, albeit aesthetically merited, is subpar in almost every way. Satoshi Kon is definitely not a hack, however refutably overrated, for he has demonstrated his genuine competence in composing his own coups such as Perfect Blue or Tokyo Godfathers, and even glimpses of greatness here and there in Millennium Actress. Nevertheless, the self-indulgent and bafflingly confusing narrative has made Millennium Actress his weakest work that I’ve experienced so far. Mind you, this movie used to hold a 10 on my list for quite some time, so I do understand all the unhinged worshipping. Yet have I verily changed to thus give my sincere final verdict upon this movie: How corny.
STORY – Millennium Actress’s story is very simplistic and very sweet. I’m not usually a fan of unquestioning, devotional love, especially to such a crazed, obsessive extent, but the way this movie presents things makes it very easy to like. Just the extent of everything, the lengths to which Chiyoko had been willing to go; all of it was incredible. Even better still, was the idea that we in the audience could not know just how much of it was real and just how much of it was fantasy. The lines seem permanently blurred and any one scene might have just as easily been a memory or a dream, especially since all of the recollections are coming at an age where forgetfulness is common, making everything all the more tragic.
The use of movies to convey a fantasy was brilliant, especially considering the story’s form as a movie. The way people in the present are thrown into the past (or fantasy) was also a wonderfully creative way to tie the two times together, and there’s even a bit of tongue-in-cheek self-commentary on this way of handling things. Really, it’s Satoshi Kon’s phenomenal storytelling that transforms Millennium Actress’s exceedingly simple plotline into a masterpiece.
CHARACTERS – I have mixed feelings about the characters in this movie. I’ve said before that I’m not a fan of sudden, unquestioning love; thus, I definitely wasn’t a fan of the fact that Chiyoko essentially fell into eternal love with a man she’d met once, briefly, for several short hours. At the same time, the extent to which she took this infatuation seemed strangely realistic, despite how incredible it was. Indeed, people obsess over little things all the time, irrelevant people, incidental meetings; there are short moments that they will remember for the rest of their lives, so perhaps it isn’t so strange that Chiyoko should cling onto something like that. Besides, it wasn’t as if she had thrown her entire life away for the man, even if she did build up everything she had in order for him to see her. Aside from the obsession, I really enjoyed the way the elder Chiyoko was portrayed. It was very believable that she would become a recluse, and the way she told her story, the small revelations that came along with it — all of it was wonderfully interesting to watch and very touching in the end.
The other characters in the movie are all relatively minor and their characters subsequently less complex. Mostly, their personalities are sculpted so that they contribute directly to moving Chiyoko’s story along, whether by acting as antagonists or by wanting to discover more. In the end, I find them more to be tools to help Chiyoko along more than being characters of their own, but in a movie like this, I think that’s fine.
ARTSTYLE & ANIMATION – Millennium Actress has some absolutely gorgeous animation. The art style is rather typical of Satoshi Kon, and you’ll easily notice that many of his middle-aged and older male characters look startlingly similar across the movies and series he’s directed, but the same can be said with a number of other prominant artists and directors. What I loved about the animation itself was how smoothly scene transitions were handled, especially considering that we moved back and forth between present day and past recollection and between reality and movie fantasy constantly. The inclusion of the present day interviewers within flashbacks is one of my favorite touches and really helps weld everything together in the end. It was especially nice too, to see so many different kinds of scenes animated since they were just scenes within Chiyoko’s movies.
MUSIC – Maybe I was too wrapped up in the pretty animation and storytelling, but I didn’t note very astounding music, though nor did I note anything bad.
VOICE ACTING – I saw this movie subbed. The voices were pretty average for the most part, though I didn’t rather enjoy elder Chiyoko’s performance for some reason. Her emotion, especially near the end of the movie, was just very touching. :3
OVERALL – I really enjoyed this movie, though if I had just been given a synopsis, I probably wouldn’t have been very interested in the first place. Having Satoshi Kon’s name attached to it did help though, and I think this is one of the better examples of his works. The way the story was told just changed everything, including the fact that the plot itself was very simple.
3: Tokyo Godfathers
English: Tokyo Godfathers
MAL Score: 8.29
One Christmas Eve, Hana, Gin, and Miyuki are rummaging for presents through heaps of garbage when they chance upon an abandoned baby in the cold winter night. Appalled at the pitiful sight, Hana’s maternal instincts kick in and she insists on finding the baby’s biological mother to demand an explanation. Naming the baby Kiyoko—meaning pure child—they begin their search using the possible clues left alongside her: a mysterious key and a single note. However, their plans are soon thrown into disarray as they get caught up in a series of unprecedented events.
Tokyo Godfathers follows the journey of the trio as they stick together through thick and thin, hoping to deliver Kiyoko to her true home, and find their very own Christmas miracle.
STORY – In brief, Tokyo Godfathers is a heart-warming Christmas story about family. Slightly elaborated, it’s a rather unique slice-of-life movie featuring a less-than-average family. Sure, inspiration was taken from an old western film (3 Godfathers), but I haven’t seen it, and I don’t think having seen it would have affected the charm of this one. (Other than the bare bones, the details of the two movies are vastly different anyway.)
Though thoroughly punctuated with reminders of how hard life can be, the movie was fun, comedic at times, and pretty darn feel-good, reflecting the general optimism associated with the winter holidays. It was uplifting, meaningful, and potentially relevant to people from all walks of life. That said, there were a lot of situations that felt a bit contrived and overly corny. For a destined-to-have-a-happy-ending story like this, a few coincidences here and there are completely expected and can even be cute. But there’s a line somewhere and after a certain point, it starts to get a bit silly. (How many characters do we need to be coincidentally named "Kiyoko"?) I’d say that Tokyo Godfathers crossed this very vague line — maybe not by much, but it was crossed all the same. I guess I can only take so much cute before I start groaning.
The main theme of this movie is the importance of family, which is a huge shift from Kon’s usual work involving diminished divides between fantasy and reality. Even so, there are little indications of the man’s handiwork woven carefully into the backstories of the individual characters, which I found interesting. After all, you don’t immediately think of hobos when you think "family values," but the homeless might be among more believable subjects for those who may want to disassociate themselves with reality. It was subtle, but I really think Kon did a superb job blending the two themes together, and that was just what I needed to tide me over.
CHARACTER – The characters were definitely the highlight of the film. The three protagonists were all wonderfully in-depth, but I never got the feeling that their complexity was being flaunted or that they were throwing it in our faces. Gin, Hana, and Mitsuki are all introduced as fairly ordinary people, which makes them easy to sympathize with and easy to relate to, even for such unconventional characters as Hana. They were all troubled people — a deadbeat debtor, an okama with AIDS (implied), and a teenage runaway, all homeless and living in a tent in the park. But each character’s personal issues were presented in gradual fragments, and there is enough ambiguity and deception to keep you wondering. That scores big in the realism department with me; after all, you don’t really go around dumping life issues on people, even if they’re your friends.
Throughout the movie, each of our three godparents struggle with their personal issues, even as they all deal with the immediate crisis involving the baby. But despite the fact that the baby problem was very pressing and is the main storyline, it’s hard to miss the gradual development in the characters. There are short, solo scenes for all the protagonists scattered throughout the movie, and that’s where some of the coincidences start mounting. Tokyo is a huge city, and I found it a little ridiculous that so many relevant figures from the characters’ past should appear in such a short time, but I realize that those situations are hard to avoid, if not impossible. All the same, I really enjoyed each character’s maturation, especially since so little was actually said in two out of three cases. That made everything seem all the more poignant. For some reason, even though I thought Miyuki’s runaway story was a bit "Wait, what?" I could sympathize with her all the same.
The main trio aside, the other characters were more roles within the story than actual characters. Sachiko was a little over the top for me, and her husband a bit predictable as well, but that’s okay. The other support characters more than make up for them. The yakuza guy was entertaining, and the Hispanic hitman intriguing, not to mention the raving, crazy, old hobo. They’re as good as minor characters get.
ART & ANIMATION – Tokyo Godfathers was a gorgeous, gorgeous movie, but I wouldn’t have expected or accepted anything less. Seriously, there wasn’t much not to like here visually. The characters were all distinct, memorable, and animated. Expressions were rendered with impressive realism, and the scenic city background was beautiful. I especially loved how the snow and light rail were handled, as well as nighttime city lights. The realness of the city really resonated as well. We do see a few prominent landmarks like Tokyo Tower, but pretty much all the buildings looked like they could have been real. The big city feeling really came out perfectly. It was kind of nice to see a few trademarks of Satoshi Kon’s style as well, including that a stout, self-important man, and that one creepy, old guy. They’re Kon’s white doves.
MUSIC – Average in that I-don’t-really-remember-any-of-it way. The final melody that played with the end credits was nice though.
VOICE ACTING – I saw this movie subbed, and it was lovely. The cast for our three protagonists all did great; the emotion was clearly there. I was especially fond of Yoshiaki Umegaki, who voiced Hana. I suppose I’m always impressed with those that do well playing less traditional roles, but it was a very believable portrayal. And… the baby cry was too believable. I don’t like babies much, but even amongst the baby lovers of the world, I’m sure there is a general consensus that the noise they can make is incredibly unpleasant. I almost muted this movie so many times because oh, snap, there is a lot of baby wailing in this movie. Oh well. More realism points?
The inclusion of a few Spanish-speaking characters in the movie was a nice surprise and scored some multicultural points. I like Spanish a lot and even though I probably wasn’t the best student of the language, I understood well enough without subtitles (I guess KAA hadn’t been prepared to sub Spanish). They used real Spanish-speakers too, so it actually sounded like Spanish instead of some strange, garbled Supaniishu. Yay!
OVERALL – Barring a bit of partial nudity (exposed breasts for breastfeeding), I think Tokyo Godfathers is an excellent family film. The story is pretty straightforward and easy to understand. All the traditional elements of a Christmas movie are there — inspiration, hope, good deeds, strong relationships, family values, feel-goodness, and a happy ending — but the rich characters that Satoshi Kon brings into the mix really makes the difference. So yeah, even with all the silly little coincidences that move it along, I really enjoyed this movie.
Story: This story is about 3 homeless people (a washed-up father/husband, a homo, and a runaway teen) during the Christmas Holidays. The story gets going when they find an abandoned baby at a dump site. Even though one of them wants to raise the baby himself, they knew that they couldn’t, so they go on a search for the baby’s parents. As this search goes on, they start to learn about each others past’s and we see how it ties into the present.
While it may seem like a pretty straight forward concept, Kon Satoshi manages to fully utilize it by putting all these twists and turn that keeps the movie exciting. What makes the story so special is how Satoshi manages to portray the homeless urban hood and how he cleverly ties everyone’s pasts together. So if a funny, compelling, heart-filled story is what you’re searching for, then look no further than this.
Animation: For a movie made in 2003, the animation is very solid. Style-wise, there is nothing spectacular about it. It doesn’t differentiate itself from other anime like Mind Game or Dead Leaves does, however, what makes it so appealing is all the detail it has when presenting urban Tokyo. A lot of work must have been done to try to represent the homeless.
Sound: There really isn’t much to say about this. There weren’t really anything that gave a huge impression; however, all I can say is that the music really fit the movie. Its one of the reason why movie stayed exciting
Character: Probably the best aspect of the movie was the characters. The first thing I want to point out is the realism. While they may be “weird” characters, their situations are really similar to society today. I can see a teenager running away from home. I can see a washed-up husband/father becoming homeless. Another fascinating thing about the characters is the growth that they go through. Because of this baby, we see the subtle growth of each character and the bonds between them becoming tighter.
Overall: This was a surprisingly good movie. It is a great addition to a Christmas holiday collection. I haven’t been glued to a movie like this in a while. Now I am definitely looking forward to his latest work Paprika.
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!
1: Perfect Blue
English: Perfect Blue
MAL Score: 8.51
J-pop idol group CHAM! has spent the last two years entertaining its fans. Sadly, all good things must come to an end, and CHAM! must see one of its members, Mima Kirigoe, leave the group to pursue her acting career. While Mima’s choice is met with a mixed response, she hopes her fans will continue to support her.
However, Mima’s life begins to change drastically after her departure from the group. Wanting to shed her pop-idol image, she takes on a role in a crime drama series, and her career as an actress gradually becomes more demanding and taxing for both Mima and her manager, Rumi Hidaka. To add to Mima’s growing unease, an obsessed fan who is incapable of accepting that Mima has quit being an innocent idol, begins stalking her; a new anonymous website begins to impersonate her life with intricate detail; and CHAM! also appears to be doing better without her. One by one, each disturbing development drives Mima to become increasingly unhinged and unable to distinguish reality from fantasy.
Novel, Anime: Perfect Blue was originally a novel written by Yoshikazu Takeuchi. When, I’m not really sure; there’s not a lot of information about it.
The movie itself was done by Oniro, directed by Satoshi Kon, and was released in 1997.
Story: The story is centered around Mima Kirigoe, the lead member of a pop trio who’s decided to go solo as an actress. Her small recurring role in a direct-to-video series ends up turning into a big break, but the part and a subsequent photo shoot involves… compromising situations, to say the least. On top of all this, she’s got a stalker that knows every intimate detail about her life and is posting it on the Internet. And then the murders start, and her sanity starts fraying…
This film was Satoshi Kon’s big break, and you know why when you watch it. The line between reality and fantasy blurs more and more as the film goes on, and you wonder if it’s either all in her head, part of the direct-to-video series, or for real. And you will be scared. I was watching this in broad daylight in my dorm on move-in day for the returning students, and I was still scared out of my wits. And the plot twists. My god, the plot twists. In general, the plot is going to blow you out of the water.
As for faithfulness to the original, I’ve found tidbits that said that Kon didn’t think that the original novel would make a good film, and so he asked permission from Takeuchi to change things. He got the permission, so long as the original story concepts were intact. For those who were looking for a faithful adaptation, there is a live-action film called Perfect Blue: Yume Nara Samete that was released in 2002 and directed by Toshiki Sato.
You can tell how old the film is, though, when the main character is trying to figure out how to use a computer/the Intarnet. xD
WARNING: There is rape, there is detailed nudity, there is very graphic violence, and lots and lots of blood. I’m not kidding when I say that you should only be watching this if you’re over 17. Kiddies, and those who are squeamish, stay far away from this movie.
Art: This film was done back in ’97, so yeah, the style’s going to look a bit dated. But when you compare the animation with other shows that were airing about the same time (Pokemon, Sailor Moon StarS, to name a few), it doesn’t seem to be quite as good as it possibly could be. The main reason for that was that during production, the Kobe earthquake hit the production studio (Madhouse), and the film’s budget was reduced from one for a live-action movie to that of an OVA. Not the greatest art out there during the time, but given the situation that they had to work with, it’s still pretty decent.
Music: The pop numbers that Mima’s trio does (CHAM!) are pretty catchy. And the other music that’s played only heightens the suspense. Pretty good, overall.
Seiyuu: As usual, no problems here. Mima’s seiyuu is outstanding (she later went on to play Tomoyo in Cardcaptor Sakura, Ceres in Ceres: Celestial Legend, and Akane in My-HiME (Higurashi), My-Otome and My-Otome Zwei (Soir)).
Dub: N/A, didn’t watch it.
Length: I honestly don’t know what more they could’ve done with this film; the film wraps up at close to an hour and a half. (Actually, knowing Kon, maybe I don’t want to know.) And it seems just right, because of the fast pace that it clips along at, while still managing to make sure that everything that the audience needs to understand is included.
Overall: An amazing, if not perfectly animated, psychological thriller that will have you wondering just what’s real here and clinging to your nearest cuddly.
Overall: 44/50; 88% (B)
As always, my reviews are spoiler free.
You know you have done something right when someone can completely associate your name with a genre. For Satoshi Kon, that genre is Psychological Thriller (or mindf**k, if you prefer). All his works (perhaps with the exception of Tokyo Godfathers, which is still fantastic) explore this genre differently, some deeper than others, but from Paranoia Agent to Millennium Actress he clearly shows his abilities as a director. Of all his works, I think his first, Perfect Blue, is my favorite.
Story – 10/10
Our story begins with Kirigoe Mima, a member of a pop idol group, deciding to give up her singing career for a future as an actress. This decision leads to a string of events that will change her life forever, as well those around her. What begins with sinister phone calls and faxes becomes a paranoid fight for her life with a stalker; a stalker with a warped view of reality to say the least. Mima’s career as an actor is not as glamorous as she expected either, leading to outrage among her fans and incredible stress for her manager and friend, Hidaka Rumi. As mysterious acts of violence are committed around her, Mima’s view of reality begins to change.
The story explores a number of topics that few other works in the medium discuss, such as the loss of innocence and the perception of reality. It tackles these tough subjects without forcing them upon the viewer, as they are slowly immersed into the twisted world of Mima’s life.
As much as I would love to continue to praising the story, I cannot bring myself to do it. It is something that must be experienced and not spoiled. And that ending… Wow.
Animation – 8/10
Released in 1997, this movie will of course look dated when compared to the work of today. When it is compared to other works of the time, however, it stands out with great fluidity. Some of the artistic choices are a bit strange, especially the character designs, but there is nothing that will detract from the experience, especially if one manages to acquire a Blu-ray release.
One outstanding factor is the cinematography. The angle of scenes being changed gives a certain amount of depth of vision most other series cannot come close to matching, even today.
I will be giving animation an 8/10, keeping in mind that it should be compared with other anime produced in the 90s.
Sound – 7/10
The soundtrack is haunting and disorienting. Much like that of well made horror movies, a feeling of suspense can be gradually built and released, or suddenly come to a climax. However, there is nothing worthy in and of itself, and the songs CHAM!, Mima’s idol group, sings are grating on the ears at best.
Character – 10/10
Mima is developed very extensively throughout the movie, as she is the sole protagonist. Personally, I developed a great attachment to her throughout the movie, sharing her fear, depression, and confusion. She makes a fantastic protagonist, and as I mentioned above, wonderfully illustrates the theme of loss of innocence.
The supporting cast does well, with Rumi and her stalker being the main side characters. Rumi is developed very well herself, especially in the later half of the series as the story is tied together. The stalker, while far less explored, still has his motivations clearly explained and the viewer gets a fantastic look into a deranged mind.
Overall, it has one of the best protagonists I have ever seen, and a strong supporting cast.
Enjoyment – 10/10
If you are a fan of suspense, mystery, drama, thrillers… you will love this. Perfect Blue appeals to so many psychological elements and has such an intricate setup that it can be watched again and again, noticing new things each time. The second watch can be even better with than the first; once you know the end, you can trace the story backwards to the origin.
I would not recommend this to fans of mindless action, comedy, or SOL. It is not by any means a “light watch.” But if you are willing to sit back and let it totally absorb you, I can’t possibly think of a better way to spend your time.
This movie contains fully uncensored nudity and graphic sexual scenes. There is a significant amount of violence as well, but it is not too gory. I would still strongly advise against younger viewers watching this.
If you enjoyed this movie, you should immediately acquire and watch everything that Satoshi Kon ever directed. I don’t think you will be disappointed.
I give this movie a 9/10, with the only improvements I could wish for would be a slightly better soundtrack and a fresh coat of animation (give it to ufotable, they would be perfect).
Thanks for reading.
Thinking about who you are and why you are this person may often cause your thoughts to clash amongst one another. This is strongly shown in the main character Mima Kirigoe. The story is truly some of the best writing I’ve ever seen. Its a mix of linear progression and short time jumps. This enhances the disarray shown in Mima. All of the scenes show believable emotion on what a character might do faced with the situation. The story is very unique in the way it ties together what is a dream and what is reality. Mima aspiring to be an actor allows this story to use clever writing to really add mystery and delusion while maintaing truth. The pacing is flawless. When it begins to steamroll watching for the first time you will be asking what the hell is going on a lot. It can be a very exciting show with thought provoking themes. It is accompanied by some less then easy to watch moments. They add to the emotional strain on Mima pulling her mind apart but may not be watchable by everyone. This is a masterpiece of complex emotional thoughts and detailed writing, used in the telling of the story which ties together everything in the end.
The art shows beautiful symbolism. Tones are darkened slightly to add an extra layer of mystery an unease. It has a realistic world and character design to it. Each character’s look matches their personality extremely well. The eyes on the creeper characters give a twisted feeling to them. Mima switches from upbeat and happy to paranoid or depressed effortlessly. Its never out of place for the scene in the story. Watching the Art techniques used to portray confusion in Mima’s mind, believing a glass door isn’t there, or the splash a puddle makes (or doesn’t) is the necessary details that make this movie wonderful. The heavy blurs mixing dream and reality the quick transitions tying plot together with story progression while maintaing illusion is executed flawlessly in Perfect Blue.
The soundtrack fits the story at every scene. Its eerie and frighting when it needs to be an able to switch immediately to a lighter mood with the Pop songs without totally losing the emotion from before. The sound overall from camera flashes to violent climaxes along with all of the voice acting (Viewed Subbed Version) is amazing. I personally enjoyed the distorting of one of the “CHAM!” songs to accompany a scene that otherwise would feel out of place. This allowed for the story to mix emotions that wouldn’t be seen together otherwise. It was a nice trick further showing the brilliant writing shown throughout both the Art and Sound.
I want to be very careful on how I explain the characters as their development is truly at the core of the story. All the supporting characters fit their role in the story exceptionally well. The choices and decision made are believable. They have realistic ideas and goals shown in the story that define the decisions they make. The characters have common afflictions which relates them to one another in multiple ways. The devoplment of Mima is shockingly beautiful to say the least. I felt I could understand some of the feelings she had in choosing to become a different person and the difficulty in leaving part of your life behind. All of the characters feel real even just the filling ones talking about the gossip revolving around Mima’s life.
This is a truly unique story with a beautifully integrate plot, a perfectly toned art style, exceptionally well scored soundtrack, and believable an interesting characters. The story is gritty and bold as well as exciting and impassioned. If you are looking for a show that will get your mind thinking and are able to handle a few disheartening scenes. You will lose your thoughts within the chaos of perfection that is Perfect Blue.
“Like I Care! I Am Who I Am!!.” Mima Kirigoe.
Did YOUR favorite anime make the cut? Let us know in the comments below!
1. Perfect Blue
2. Tokyo Godfathers
4. Sennen Joyuu
5. No Game No Life: Zero
6. Cardcaptor Sakura Movie 2: Fuuin Sareta Card
7. Toki wo Kakeru Shoujo
8. Summer Wars
10. Trigun: Badlands Rumble
11. Ginga Eiyuu Densetsu: Waga Yuku wa Hoshi no Taikai
12. Death Billiards
13. Vampire Hunter D (2000)
14. Hadashi no Gen
16. Piano no Mori
17. Cardcaptor Sakura Movie 1
18. Toaru Hikuushi e no Tsuioku
19. Overlord Movie 2: Shikkoku no Eiyuu
20. Juubee Ninpuuchou
21. Overlord Movie 1: Fushisha no Ou
23. Wakaokami wa Shougakusei! Movie
24. Ningen Shikkaku: Director’s Cut-ban
25. Hadashi no Gen 2
26. Cardcaptor Sakura: Kero-chan ni Omakase!
27. Tibet Inu Monogatari
28. Hunter x Hunter Movie 1: Phantom Rouge
29. Hunter x Hunter Movie 2: The Last Mission
30. Mai Mai Shinko to Sennen no Mahou
32. Tenjou Tenge: The Past Chapter
33. Ohoshi-sama no Rail
34. Manie-Manie: Meikyuu Monogatari
35. Kimi no Koe wo Todoketai
36. Nasu: Andalusia no Natsu
37. Unico: Mahou no Shima e
38. Overlord Movie: Manner Movie
40. Overlord Movie: Ple Ple Pleiades
41. Hi no Tori: Houou-hen
42. No Game No Life: Zero – Manner Movie
43. Ace wo Nerae! (1979)
44. Urusei Yatsura Movie 6: Itsudatte My Darling
45. Anne no Nikki
46. Highlander: The Search for Vengeance
47. WXIII Kidou Keisatsu Patlabor
48. Grimm Douwa: Kin no Tori
49. Kamui no Ken
50. Di Gi Charat: Hoshi no Tabi