Friday, November 30, 2012

[Netflix Anime Review] Origin: Spirits of the Past

I decided to try watching this movie on Netflix because the synopsis was so appealing.  A post apocalyptic future where plants and nature are the dominant species?  Hell yes!  Unfortunately for me, this movie did not live up to my expectations.

First of all, I gotta say, most of this anime went over my head and I felt it was really boring.  This is mostly because the story, although possessing a rock solid plot, failed to elaborate on the characters' backgrounds and seemed to waste precious screen time on people traveling around.  I had almost no sympathy or feelings at all for most of the characters because I just didn't GET them.

The animation is indeed beautiful, reminiscent of Hayao Miyazaki's elaborately animated settings.  Even the characters' sometimes overly exaggerated expressions reminded me of Miyazaki's films.

 Does this scene remind you of any Miyazaki film?  Hint: It stars a red haired girl...

I personally did not care much for the character designs.  They just seemed really plain and none of the characters stood out, even the main character, Agito with his white hair.

One of the things that REALLY bugged me about this film was the fact that the writers didn't elaborate or even bother to show some significant POV scenes for these psychopathic forest creatures!  I still don't really understand how they came to be or what their ultimate purpose was besides the obvious, forest creatures pwn Humans mentality.

Strange forest creatures (and I still don't know sh*t about them) surrounding the village elder.

I felt as if these 'forest creatures' in the scenes above served no purpose in the film aside from hording all the water from the Humans and to show the conflict between the Humans and the forest.  They didn't really play much of a role beyond that and I have no back story on how they came to be..

This particular character, Minka, seriously made me want to shoot her in the head with her stupid attitude and actions.  'Stupid' is actually the perfect describing word I have for her.  She did some laaaaame things in this movie and I FEEL this way because the writers put no effort into giving her character some stronger motives.  While watching her, all the while I felt as if she did all the things she did because of some childish jealousy and stupidity combined.

The lead heroine Toola, is a character that I'm seriously contemplating on whether I hate her more than Minka.  She seems to have a severe case of one-track-mindedness and continues throughout the entire film to convince herself that she is doing the right thing by going with the obviously suspicious white haired tyrant.  Even though Agito tries and tries again to convince her that she's heading off with a psychopath, her tiny brain doesn't seem to have room for reasoning.

For all this movie's hinted sci-fi glory, it really doesn't give too much of the sci.  The only time any kind of futuristic sci-fi scenes are shown is shortly in the beginning when Agito finds Toola in suspended animation (I liked her best that way), and toward the ending of the movie.  And even THAT whole explanation makes me feel like we've all been shortchanged.

 A scene with Agito gaining his new-found powers of the forest and proceeding to destroy a giant steam punk tank LIKE A BOSS.

Most things in this movie seemed to move in automation, with no real feeling in anything and no elaborations to help us understand the characters better.  I couldn't help but feel as if every action was being checked off down an insanely straitlaced list of events. 

An example of this is above with Agito:
He gains his new powers [CHECK] 
He somehow expertly destroys a giant tank [CHECK] 
He proceeds to save the lame-ass Toola [CHECK]

In cases like these, I wonder if the writers threw logic out the window and simply made Agito a genius who has pretty awesome control over his new powers the moment he attains them.

To wrap this up, I believe this movie's only redeeming qualities are its beautiful animation and perhaps, Agito.  

Because he's just a REAAAALLY nice guy.

 IMHO, he was the only honest, hardworking, loyal, and selfless character in the entire movie.  He appeared like this SO much that it gave me a tingly sense of Tohru Honda deja-vu.


じゅりあ said...

Aww I'm sorry the movie sucked because the animation is really nice!
Your review actually made me laugh though! :D (I like the effect of the crossed-out "heroine" XD)
I notice you mention Tohru! We obviously both appreciate her character ^^

Monitor (John) said...

The Druids didn't need explaining because as long as you know what a druid is, you know their purpose.

Druids were a real group of Celtic priests that existed before medieval times. They were herbalists and scholars who upheld nature above all else which isn't surprising since the Celtic religion was based almost entirely around fairies and nature. Each druid lives in one of a few certain places in nature that they must protect. In the myths, they hate technology and man-made things as well as abominations like undead and ghosts and sometimes these things can even corrupt or injure their precious nature. Their magic in the myths includes the abilities to turn into, speak to, feel the feelings of, and manipulate animals or plants; they could also control the elements, control the weather, and heal. Druids are wary of other people for obvious reasons but often play a neutral role in stories. Typically, in fantasy stories and in some myths this is how it goes: You(hero) wander into their forest and need help they provide food, bed, and healing but they'll be a royal pain in the ass about it and kick you out of their forest with the denial of your request for help on your quest no matter how much it could affect them and tell you to never come back.

Before Caesar, the Celtic peoples were widespread throughout western Europe, so its not like they were that uncommon, but schools don't bother teaching this stuff; especially because its just another part of history that ends in the Romans (and then the Catholics) killing everyone that refuses them and forcefully converting the rest. So, if you know what a druid is as many fantasy fans do, then explanation is unnecessary, if you don't, then they just wasted 15 minutes of movie time explaining something that has no effect in the overall plot. there may even be a scene where they do explain it, but was cut and I wouldn't be surprised; especially since the plot was pretty rushed. I didn't know as much as I do now when I first saw the movie, so it seemed weird to me too, but i knew enough to know that going against druids is a bad idea and they'd never let nature go.

Hope you found this informative!