Posted by psgels on 24 December 2009 with categories: Anime Reviews



Back in the sixties and seventies, before the age of Ghibli, Toei still had the ambitions to become the “Disney of Japan”, and was enthusiastically competing with Nippon Animation for that title. It’s not much of a surprise of course that a movie of the Swan Lake once was made. And I’m pretty impressed, actually. It’s obviously a children’s movie, but if you like this sort of stuff then Swan Lake will have you entertained.

The music for starters is fantastic. But really, how can you go wrong when you have Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake as your soundtrack? With some of the best parts of this classical masterpiece, this movie truly is a feast for the ears and it creates a great atmosphere to work with.

Well then, the story itself is a bit unrealistic at times (romantic love story between a prince and princess who happen to meet each other and fall in love. Oh, and let’s not forget the two squirrels who somehow make themselves into important characters…), but it definitely has its charms. The story is well paced and makes well use of its airtime. Although there’s one particular Big Lipped Alligator Moment with ballet-dancing eggs. No, really.

In any case, what made me like this movie the most was the villain: Rothbart. His motives are just plain wrong, but he’s such a fun guy to watch. The characterization for him is just excellent and he’s the one who manages to carry this movie from the moment he first gets mentioned. Now here’s a movie that manages to create a really enjoyable character. The rest of the cast is also pretty enjoyable. Odette may be a bit useless, but it doesn’t stand out too much because of Odin, the Prince and the squirrels (yeah, these two oddballs really have their charms) have their own colourful personalities.

Let me take a bit of time to talk about the ending, though. The progress of this movie is fairly linear and modern fairy-tale-like, but solid. At the end, there’s this big battle between good and evil, which is actually pretty engaging… until the creators suddenly decide to pull a completely random twist that comes right out of nowhere, makes no sense whatsoever and isn’t explained in the slightest. Seriously, there are Deus ex Machina endings, and there’s this. You really have to try to be that bad.

Nevertheless, I like kids stuff once in a while, and this movie perfectly satiated my thirst for them. That ending was just… weird, but the rest of the movie was very enjoyable. This obviously isn’t the movie you want if you’re looking for maturity, but if you like innocent and likable characters, then this movie has them.

Storytelling: 8/10 – Well paced storyline, WTF-ending.
Characters: 9/10 – Great characterization. Villain rocks.
Production-Values: 9/10 – Fantastic soundtrack, pretty good animation.
Setting: 7/10 – A tad unrealistic, but what else did you expect from a fairytale?

12 Responses

  1. Firechick says:

    If there’s any movie out there that deserves a review from you, it’s obviously Ringing Bell! WATCH IT! It is a dark and twisted masterpiece, I tell you!…along with The Sea Prince and The Fire Child!

  2. yesy says:

    You should really listen to the chick above: Watch Sirius no Densetsu, now!

  3. psgels psgels says:

    Now that you mention it so often, I think I actually watched Ringing Bell once before, a number of years ago. Same with Sirius no Densetsu. Ringing bell indeed rocked, while Sirius was a bit too sappy of a love story in the end. But I’m still not sure why I didn’t end up writing a review for both of them…

  4. Gottis says:

    This was one of my favorite movies as a kid! ^_^

  5. windy says:

    I liked this “Swan lake ” film a lot at the time I watched it! There are some other “Sekai meisaku douwa” I enjoyed:
    “Oyayubi hime” ( maybe too childish, but not bad)
    ” Mori wa ikite iru”
    “Aladdin to mahou no Lamp” ( I didn’t like this one)

    But “Swan Lake” was by far my favourite among them!

  6. windy says:

    I don’t know if you already them, but there are also movies from Jetlag productions and Golden films that I particularly liked:

    – Snow White
    – Sleeping Beauty
    – Heidi
    – Pocahontas
    – Cinderella

    ( I’ve always loved fairytales! And those are really good and even if childish offer some of the fairytales’ magic.

    And also one of the Toei animation movies I forgot to mention was of course “Marina, the little mermaid” ( I’m not so sure about the title though , but it flawlessly depicts Andersen’s original story )

  7. Firechick says:

    @Psgels: Then write a reviews! Your reviews are always so interesting and fun to read (heck, they led me to watch Now and Then, Here and There and Haibane Renmei!).

  8. Firechick says:

    Whoops, I meant write a review for them! Your reviews are very interesting and influential and fun to read!

  9. Wyrdwad says:

    Big Lipped Alligator Moment? Wow, does this mean you, too, are a fan of the Nostalgia Critic and Nostalgia Chick, or has that particular phrase made its way into popular use now?

    If you’re also a fan of the personalities on thatguywiththeglasses.com, though, then that’s really cool. I love those guys. (:

    -Tom

  10. psgels psgels says:

    Yeah, I like to watch the Nostalgia critic. He tends to overact at times, but he’s fun to watch.

  11. Wyrdwad says:

    Yep, same here. I do find myself disagreeing with him pretty often (for example, I genuinely *loved* Tank Girl!), but nonetheless, he’s extremely entertaining. (:

    If you want some awesomely bitter reviews, though, check out some of Spoony’s on the same site. He has an 11-part review of Final Fantasy VIII that’s one of the most scathing, vitriolic things I’ve ever heard. It was awesome to hear him pick that game apart bit by bit for like, 3 hours. (:

    -Tom

  12. Firechick says:

    YOU LIKE NOSTALGIA CRITIC!? I do too! I watch his videos too, mostly his top 11s! he’s a bit like you when it comes to reviewing (but in his case, he reviews by videos while you review with your blog)!

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  • AidanAK47
    (Monday, Mar 2. 2015 01:29 AM)
    Late to this one but
    @BrendanVGC, that’s kinda tough. See there is a huge amount of very different manga that fall under the category “Seinien” You would kinda need to give us a more focused genre to work with here. Like horror, action etc.
    And pretty sure death note is shounen.
  • Emma
    (Sunday, Mar 1. 2015 07:35 AM)
    Damon I am more used to seeing in a drama or comedy role I reckon rather than an action hero.
  • Emma
    (Sunday, Mar 1. 2015 07:24 AM)
    Eric Bana is so underated =<
    I want to see more of the man on film.
  • Bam
    (Sunday, Mar 1. 2015 05:52 AM)
    The story would’ve been much more anchored and believable if the social imbalance wasn’t portrayed so heavy-handedly. It makes no sense for every house in Elysium to have a healing-bed that completely restores you and they dint bother to put a single one on Earth to keep the working class happy and healthy. I mean, c’mon now.
  • Bam
    (Sunday, Mar 1. 2015 05:49 AM)
    Yeah the action sequences were the best parts of Elysium. I don’t k ow, I just don’t feel Matt Damon in these roles anymore and I hope they stayed with Eric Bana like the rumors were hinting; that probably would’ve made it a more personal story.
  • Emma
    (Sunday, Mar 1. 2015 04:55 AM)
    Its been too long since I saw district 9 to have an accurate opinion on it.
  • Emma
    (Sunday, Mar 1. 2015 04:54 AM)
    I can remember giving higher points to elysium when I saw it first because I really needed/wanted to see an R rated action movie. But apart from Sharlto Copley as the villain it was in hindsight fairly miscast, the ending was quite poor and the script could have been improved on, I liked the robots/action scenes however.
  • Bam
    (Sunday, Mar 1. 2015 04:20 AM)
    I have a feeling that the movie’s gonna suck tho. District 9 was good, Elysium was a mess and Chappie looks like a Short Circuit ripoff with nothing new to add. I have respect for Blomkamp since he started as an animator and probably has respect for the medium and a good eye for aesthetics, by he’s doing progressively more conventional stuff as his career goes on.
  • Emma
    (Sunday, Mar 1. 2015 01:41 AM)
    Ha, so I wasn’t wrong when I came across that film Chappie and thinking that the robot resembled Briareos from appleseed, the director’s a fan of Masume Shirow’s work apparently.
  • Bam
    (Sunday, Mar 1. 2015 12:16 AM)
    @Brendan: That completely hinges on your personal taste, but Vagabond is one of the best Chanbara ones around, with superb art, fast pacing and entertaining storyline. Berserk should go without saying as it’s a codifier for many Seinen conventions, but Vinland Saga is another great series which is in similar vein. Biomega and Drifters are also worth a look.

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