Before I start with the review, I have a small announcement to make. Anyone who’s looked at my blog for the past two weeks will probably have noticed the heap of movie and OVA-reviews. Well, with the review of Arete Hime, this special holiday-schedule has ended: every show should be getting out of their hiatus by now, the Winter-season has started as well, and tomorrow my studies will start again as well. I must say that it was a great way to spend the past two weeks, and this was probably the largest amount of activity you’ll see from me in like, ever (according to animeblogger, I managed to churn out more than fifty posts over the past two weeks ^^;). I also managed to greatly reduce my movie-watchlist, in fact, there are only nine titles left of movies and OVAs that I still want to see (three OVAs and six movies, to be exact), and I should be finished with that list in about two months, depending on how busy my studies will become.
Anyways, onto the review. For the past two weeks, I’ve seen a lot of good stuff, but the definite highlights for me were Tokyo Godfathers and this charming movie called Arete Hime, or Princess Arete. This movie really restored my faith in Studio 4C. Every thing has its bad points, and I guess that for Studio 4C this was Spriggan. Still, Arete Hime showed me that these guys remain a bunch of very talented storytellers.
Let me get one thing straight, though: boredom is a major theme of this movie, so yes: it’s slow. Don’t even dare to expect any action in this movie. Still, one flaw that I found in a lot of movies is that they tend to rush things along a lot, while forgetting to build up properly. Arete Hime delightfully avoids this flaw, and makes sure not to rush one minute of its storyline. Of course, the premise of a princess, locked up inside a tower has been done many times before, and yet the creators managed to create a setting with this that stands apart from the rest. The storyline and setting may be simple, but that makes sure that they’ve gotten sufficient development. It was definitely interesting to see the customs and habits of the people who live in a fantasy-influenced medieval setting, without any clichés or stereotypes.
The cast of characters is also well-developed, from the main characters to the side-ones: everything fits, and most of them are smarter than your average anime. You may not suspect it from first sight, but Arete is quite clever for her age, and the major villain too has one of the most interesting back-stories I’ve seen in a long while.
To be honest, if I were asked about the best movie-creating company, I’d answer Studio 4C instead of Ghibli. Sure, Hayao Miyazaki has made some great movies, but they all felt like they were missing something. That final spark to become truly interesting. The works from Studio 4C feel complete, varied and nearly all of them have a terrific sense of storytelling. Both studios try to be different and don’t care about popularity and mainstream. Princess Arete is yet another great example of this. Sure, I can imagine how it’ll put people to sleep, but the storytelling definitely makes up for all of the slow pacing.