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. 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. Ebod says:

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

  3. Chris says:

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

  4. 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. Pafiume says:

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

  6. Gottis says:

    Oh god, I want to watch this… *_*

  7. 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. Pi says:

    Engrossing and fascinating.

  9. 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. 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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  • Raggers
    (Saturday, Mar 28. 2015 02:19 AM)
    @Aidan: true, but I don’t think the level is anywhere close to a true shounen. And once the basic rules are established it’s strategising and straight out fighting.
    I’d be more inclined to call it seinen with shounen elements than actually shounen.
  • Emma
    (Friday, Mar 27. 2015 09:59 PM)
    Good all action finale to cap off Garo there, went out with a bang, though thing is I have no idea where their going to go with this when the movie, second season comes along, this seems like a pretty good point to finish.
  • Emma
    (Friday, Mar 27. 2015 05:35 PM)
    I think that just about all the manga serialized in ultra jump feel less seinen than those serialized in other seinen magazines.
  • AidanAK47
    (Friday, Mar 27. 2015 05:19 PM)
    There’s plenty of in battle explaining. I don’t think there’s been a battle without in battle explaining. You got the first time villain that ends up a good guy. You got powerups and levels of quinques. There’s a ton of shounen elements.
    Just because something has gore does not make it seinien. Deadman wonderland is Shounen and it has just as much gore and torture.
  • Raggers
    (Friday, Mar 27. 2015 02:52 PM)
    @Emma: ah, yes.
    @Aidan: How so? A variety of weapons and abilities does not turn something into a shounen battle manga.
    I’d need a lot more random in-battle explaining secret powers to your opponent, and a lot more mercy to not consider it seinen.
    Also, torture, balls and limbs being chopped off as a sick joke, slicing people in half without warning, breaking half their bones…
  • AidanAK47
    (Friday, Mar 27. 2015 12:44 PM)
    I felt that the story became too shounen battle manga When at first it was portrayed as seinien. Especially with the quineqes and such.
  • Emma
    (Friday, Mar 27. 2015 12:06 PM)
    @Raggers: His past with the old lady ghoul where he was castrated =<
  • Raggers
    (Friday, Mar 27. 2015 05:48 AM)
    @Emma: which moment is that?
  • Emma
    (Friday, Mar 27. 2015 05:26 AM)
    @Raggers : And in one moment, a rather disturbing development.
  • Emma
    (Friday, Mar 27. 2015 05:24 AM)
    @Raggers: Actually, thinking it over you’ve got a point there, As I had said I’ve been marathoning re and come to think of it, it is more enjoyable to do so that way.

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