Posted by psgels on 7 January 2008 with categories: Anime Reviews


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.

2 Responses

  1. Avatar AG says:

    This is probably off topic, but have you checked out FLCL? It’s a famous OVA by Gainax which somehow manages to make a really weird story, about involving mechas and smashing guitars over people’s heads, so engrossing and enjoyable.?

  2. Avatar Wyrdwad says:

    Yay! I’m glad I’m not the only one who enjoyed Princess Arete. My favorite aspect of it is the atmosphere, though. The whole movie is just really, really… medieval! And I know a lot of anime are set in medieval times, but this is really the ONLY one I can think of that actually FEELS medieval. The music, too, is outstanding.

    My only complaint with Princess Arete was that the last third of it seemed a bit rushed. There was just no action at all for most of the movie, and then suddenly, right at the end, there was a TON of action, all of which seemed to occur far too quickly and conveniently when compared to the rest of the movie. I almost would’ve preferred it to have been a bit longer, as I really would’ve liked to see the action spaced out more, and better thought-out.

    But still, overall, I really enjoyed it.

    As for the rest of your movies and OVAs… I hope one of ’em is Millennium Actress! (: Heheheheh…

    And I think I’ve mentioned this before (in fact, I’m almost CERTAIN I’ve mentioned it before!), but if you’re ever looking to start up another full series, I can’t recommend Mahoujin Guruguru enough. It just came up again in conversation with some of my friends recently, and I found myself re-watching a few episodes… and man, that really is one amazingly good show. And aside from the vastly inferior 2000 sequel, Mahoujin Guruguru Dokidoki Densetsu, all of it has been fansubbed, too: 45 TV episodes, and one half-hour movie. And excepting for a small handful of somewhat boring filler episodes, all of it is truly excellent, providing a wonderful blending of genuinely funny humor and surprisingly original, well-conceived fantasy elements (it may be a parody anime, but it actually has a pretty damn good story in its own right!).

    Of all the “unknown” anime I’ve watched, Mahoujin Guruguru and Ashita no Nadja have been by far my favorites (well, aside from PopoloCrois, anyway – which, BTW, will be done soon, I SWEAR!). It’s a shame Ashita no Nadja is being fansubbed so horribly slowly… though I guess I’m really no better, what with how long I’ve been making people wait to see the last few Popolo episodes. (:

    -Tom

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