Every Anime I Can Remember Reviewed! Anime Movie Edition
Posted by Doug on March 14, 2010
While most anime is in a serial format, consisting of dozens of twenty-five-minute-long episodes, there are movie-length anime productions that are shown in theaters in Japan (and occassionally here in the United States, too). So I figured I’d add a few I’ve seen to my slowly growing list: Princess Mononoke, The Girl Who Leapt Through Time, Perfect Blue, Appleseed, and Summer Wars (in a slightly new format). As always, comments, questions, and feedback welcome.
Princess Mononoke (a.k.a. Mononoke-hime)
Synopsis: Ashitaka, cursed by a dying boar demon that has tentacles of evilbadnotgood sprouting out all over it, leaves his hometown to find out what had happened to the boar demon to cause it to turn into an eldritch abomination, and comes to Irontown, a human city of technology fighting a war for survival against the spirits of nature. Review: Ah, nothing like a good heavy-handed environmentalist message movie, which fairly screams “respect nature, or it will turn into a nightmarish monstrosity that will kill everything it can get its foul tentacles on”. Snark aside, this is a fairly good movie, well-drawn in Hayao Miyazaki’s signature style. Final Grade: B (★★★——).
The Girl Who Leapt Through Time (a.k.a. Toki o Kakeru Shōjo)
Synopsis: After getting hit by a train, Tomboyish Makoto realizes she has the power to travel through time, and proceeds to use that power to make a mess out of her life and the lives of everyone around her, especially her two best friends (one of whom is from the future, and the other one might have a terminal encounter with the aforementioned train in Makoto’s place…). Review: Time travel is one of those sci-fi topics that just bugs me, because it can be done poorly so easily. Fortunately, The Girl Who Leapt Through Time does it right. There’s some great time-travel comedy as Makoto uses her newfound power whimsically (traveling through time to eat the pudding that her sister had/would have stolen), but of course things get serious as the unintended consequences of her actions begin to pile up. Final Grade: A (★★★★—).
Synopsis: Mima is a member of a popular jpop group who decides to leave the group to pursue an acting career, and then gets stressed out over a stalker and goes insane. Or maybe that’s just the delusion she believes as a coping mechanism to deal with going insane. Or maybe everyone is crazy except for Mima, who is merely going insane. Or maybe… Review: A mind screw that ranks up there with the most incomprehensible parts of Evangelion, Perfect Blue almost makes sense until you realize that the “real” sequences of the story and the “delusional” ones aren’t clearly demarcated. A well-crafted production, but too grim and psychological for me to really enjoy. Final (?) Grade: C (★★———), or maybe it’s actually Grade F, and its status as a Grade C is a delusion fueled by its stress-induced insanity…
Synopsis: In the utopia of Olympus, humanity and artificial humans called bioroids end up butting heads, and so supersoldier Duenan Knute and her cyborg buddy/lover Briareos have to get things sorted out for them. Review: Another of Shirow Masamune’s works, Appleseed features a lot of the same themes, like humanity and technology, the concept of self, and all that, and it also features a healthy dose of ass-kicking and stunning visuals to keep your brain from getting a Red Ring of Death from trying to keep up with the deep philosophical stuff. The art style is all cell-shaded computer graphics, which a little more like the cutscenes from a video game than a movie, but still looks great. Notes: There’s a sequel, Appleseed: Ex Machina, which I really can’t remember right now. I’ll have to watch it again before adding it to these reviews. Final Grade: B (★★★——).
Synopsis: Kenji’s a mathematical prodigy who accepts a part-time job from one of his seniors at high school, Natsuki, ostensibly to help her family with preparations for her grandmother’s ninetieth birthday celebration but actually to pretend to be the fiancée she promised her grandmother she’d bring, but then an artificial intelligence programmed by the black sheep of Natsuki’s family takes over the world via the anime version of Second Life, resulting in massive chaos which can only be quelled by a combination of the talents and resources of Natsuki’s extensive extended family, Kenji’s beyond-the-impossible mathematical talents, and Natsuki’s skill at playing an obscure traditional Japanese card game. Review: I knew nothing about this movie until I watched it; I did not even know it existed until moments before I started downloading it on a whim. I’m glad I did: this is one of the best movies I’ve seen in a long while. It’s wonderfully over-the-top (need a better computer than that old laptop to take on the AI? Natsuki’s relatives can hook you up, at a moment’s notice, with a freaking supercomputer, powered by a fishing boat they park in the fish pond in the front yard, and a military one hundred gigabit-per-second Internet connection) and at the same time grounded in the concept of family (before the final showdown, they take time out for a big family meal). Notes: In doing a little research for this, I came across an interesting bit of unrelated trivia: Nintendo was founded to produce hand-crafted hanafuda cards almost a century before they decided to make the Famicom. Weird. Final Grade: A (★★★★—), and it might move up to Grade S with later retrospection.