Posted by psgels on 25 December 2009 with categories: Anime Reviews



Merry Christmas everyone. Christmas really is a time of peace, love and friendship. So yeah, I found this a good time to finally watch Kanashimi no Belladonna. It sounded like a good idea when I started watching it!

But seriously though: wow. We’re talking about 1973 here. Anime at this time was just giant robots and silly action shows. The industry was only ten years old, at a time when animation really was only meant for kids. And here this movie comes, with its sex, suffering, extortion, love, betrayal, pain, seduction, sex and more sex. It must have made a huge impact on the animation industry at the time!

The storytelling is just surreal. Even Studio 4C’s stuff is tame, compared to the style of Kanashimi no Belladonna. It’s obviously not for everyone. You really have to like artsy stuff, and as you can imagine from the screenshots: there is no way that the creators could animate images of these details. There are lots of still frames, while the animation that’s there is simple and often resorts to repeated frames.

But seriously, who cares! The art in this movie is absolutely beautiful. Even now, more than 35 years later, there still hasn’t been an anime that could call itself equal to this. Every frame is drawn with so much inspiration. I’m really going as far as saying that this is the best-looking anime of the seventies. It’s gorgeous in every way, and the soundtrack itself consists out of a bunch of great songs and background tunes for its time.

Despite being artsy however, this movie also excels in its characterization. Jeanne’s progression throughout the movie really hit me. The way that her life is spiralling completely out of control as she gets lost within her own greed, somewhere in medieval France. She desperately tries to be meaningful, despite the sacrifices she has to make. There’s a ton of symbolism and tons more of different ways to interpret these.

So yeah, obviously this isn’t a movie that you want to show your little brother or sister, because the story is told with tons of sex scenes. The same sex scenes will also turn off those who aren’t into artsy stuff, because seriously, they can get really bizarre at times. I seriously have no idea what went through the minds of the creators as they came up with this. I personally really enjoyed the movie. It’s really surreal, but very haunting at the same time.

Storytelling: 9/10 – Very surreal, but surprisingly deep.
Characters: 8/10 – The movie doesn’t get lost in its own art: the characters are strong.
Production-Values: 9/10 – Utterly amazing. The most beautiful anime of the 1970s
Setting: 8/10 – Makes well use of its setting.

10 Responses

  1. Avatar gaguri says:

    Yep, made in 1973 but sure beats most stuff you see today. I don’t know about having an impact on industry but it sure influenced a number of great artists, like those who later went to create Utena and Mind Game (the sex scene in Mind Game is almost a homage to the one here, although Mind Game refined it and pulled it off much better imo). Timeless work of art, yet sadly obscure. Definitely needs more recognition.

  2. Avatar Ebod says:

    Oh wow, this looks amazing! Definitely ahve to check it out when I get the chance.

  3. Avatar Chris says:

    Apparently this film inspired Utena. Which may be why I loved it so much :D

  4. Avatar Saere says:

    I watched this movie for the first time about two weeks ago… at four a.m. in the morning. It was definitely a surreal experience. I can’t say that I’m interested in rewatching it anytime soon, but I’m glad that I saw it at least once.

  5. Avatar Pafiume says:

    Just from the screencaps you have it looks amazing. I need to find this…

  6. Avatar Gottis says:

    Oh god, I want to watch this… *_*

  7. Avatar Sanity says:

    I saw a bit of the film… some parts are definitely not for the faint-hearted ^^; But the art style is definitely interesting, even if there’s not much fluid animation. The song I heard is really haunting and fitting.

  8. Avatar Pi says:

    Engrossing and fascinating.

  9. Avatar Van says:

    It’s really beautifully haunting.
    The story is really sad and the rape scene was really strong, and that could not be described in words.
    I usually don’t watch old movies and animes, but this one was an exception. Story and animation may not be the best, but the art was really beautiful and well represented.

  10. Avatar astrocurrent says:

    lol, you choose this one for Christmas… What were you thinking?

    For me, Belladonna is hard to give out a score. It has everything that any animation dreams of, that exists as an individual media, not simply just another tool to tell a story. It tells every viewer what an animation can do. Belladonna is very raw, and primeval. Hell, it’s crazy. The middle part of this animation just can’t come from human’s craft.

    I would recommend any creator to watch this movie.

    p.s. An interesting factor to point out. Many scenes of Belladonna is full animation, while the other two of the series is very limited.

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