- Rail of the Star
During WWII, the governments of the world caused enormous damage to Asia. They started invading countries one by one causing families to be torn apart, homes destroyed, and have the people deal with guilt and dismay. When the Japanese lost the war, their people took the blame for what their government decided. Can a people be forgiven for what their government did and can they deal with the consequences?
This is unfortunately all the substance from Rail of the Star, a true story of a Japanese girl in Northern Korea during and after WWII. It tells the story of how her family and life changes from the war on their journey to escape to Southern Korea and eventually back to Japan. Throughout the journey, friends and family are lost and left to the girl’s memory.
Rail commits the same sins of The Pianist; the whole movie feels like a mad libs story with occupied Japanese filled in the blanks. It really doesn’t tell anything new or deliver in an interesting way what war was like for the Japanese. It feels like a missed opportunity to get an interesting perspective of what it was like though a child’s eyes, looking back on it as a memory, or that it’s told through an animated story.
Part of the problem is that the animation gets sloppy at a few moments and there are a number of moments that could have been trimmed. Sometimes some of the layers move, the sound design is distractingly weak, and there are moments where it would have helped to see the enemies of the pursuers.
Overall, this Anime will probably remain obscure. If you’re looking for a deep and meaningful look at an animated depiction of the hardships of the war, give this a pass and find Grave of the Fireflies.
- Lucky Star First Impressions
Script doctors aren’t uncommon in the entertainment industry; a person takes a weak attempt to tell a story and gives it to another person to apply the creative bandage to the project to produce a script that sings, dances, and even does your laundry. In 2002, Azumanga Daioh! treated viewers to a reason to have a mute button with a plethora of irritating characters and voices. Five years later, Bandai Entertainment decided to patch-up the formula with Lucky Star and is certainly on its way to a full recovery.
Upon seeing the first four episodes, Lucky Star is a different kind of Anime that features no plot or ultimate goal in each episode. All we’re given is four high school girls living their life with conversations about everyday things like playing video games, eating sweets, or getting homework done. In Anime, it’s a breath of fresh air to sit down and hang out with people to have everyday conversations.
The only problem is we’ve seen these four characters before and for the life of me, I couldn’t tell you their names. Their types I can name: the nerdy girl who spends her time gaming, the ditzy girl with the high hentai voice, her twin sister who gets upset at geek girl, and the perfect busty student.
Then there’s Lucky Channel. Not to give anything away; this is the highlight of the show with a three or four minute satirical look at Japanese talk show. This is what the show should have been about; I don’t see what are stoping people from looking it up on Youtube.
Lucky Star is an overall improvement on the Daioh! formula with a lot less annoying characters and more added charm. It reached for the stars but doesn’t go beyond orbit.
- Interstella 5555
Music videos can become an enhancement of a particular song adding subtext to create a deep or meaningful mood or it can make you want to throw your Ipod in the garbage. Concert films have the challenge of trying to make a series of songs into a cohesive narrative. Intestella 5555 achieves that goal while remaining a very well crafted narrative.
The film is an anime movie all done with songs by Daft Punk. There are no dialogue and no voice acting, the music tells the story with the visuals of an alien rock band kidnapped and taken to earth by an evil corporation. It’s amazing how all the songs fit to the narrative structure without any plot holes. The art designs are done by Leiji Matsumoto and bring nostalgia of 1970’s and is edited and crafted well to fit Punk’s techno.
The story follows the band as a group of agents from earth transport the blue heroes and take them to a secret base crafting the four as popular band, changing their skin and brainwashing them. There seems to be a lot of attention paid to how the media transforms the band into a manufactured pile of money but ultimately results into a mystical cult trying to take over the world using kidnapped aliens and Grammy awards.
The plot certainly seems farfetched but Punk’s and Matsumoto’s intentions were to have a childlike fantasy using the band’s music. This is certainly a plot we’d see in any 70’s anime that both artists grew up with. The result is a blissful, artistic dream back to our childhoods reflective of the dreamlike music that accompanies it. If you have an hour to kill and want to take a magical ride through sci-fi with a toe-tapping soundtrack, climb aboard. Interstella 5555 is waiting.
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