Posted by psgels on 2 January 2010 with categories: Anime Reviews



One thing that I’ve noticed with movies is that they’re often too short: they just don’t have the luxury of TV-series, which can take their time in building up their story. It’s much harder to create an awesome movie than an awesome TV-series because of this. I think that Movies tend to be a bit too ambitious for their own good at times. They should be excellent mediums to adapt short stories, but instead I’ve seen tons of them that try stuff much larger stories into their airtime than what’s good for them.

Now, this may just be me who has a bias for folklore, but holy crap, this movie is really amazing. The Houou chapter of Hi no Tori is THE example of how a movie can be done right.

This movie doesn’t exactly have the best animation (though it’s pretty good nonetheless), and even the setting isn’t that big, the action also isn’t why you should watch this, but on the other hand: it really is storytelling at its finest. Osamu Tezuka wrote a brilliant original story, and Rintaro did an awesome attempt in putting the story into an hour-long movie.

It basically follows two men, with completely different backgrounds, around the 7th century AD. What makes their stories awesome is the way its told, and the excellent characterization of these two. It plays around with tons of morals and values, and both these lead characters go through some very powerful developments. They’re complete anti-heroes, and yet you can see the reasons for their actions and their development.

The pacing is slow, but through one of the best soundtracks I have heard of any movie from the 70s and 80s it really gets the best out of the characters. It’s one of those rare movies that just “works”, thanks to its excellent source material. You also don’t have to worry about overlap with the TV-series of Hi no Tori, which was produced in 2004: apparently Osamu Tezuka wrote so many awesome stories for his Hi no Tori manga that there was plenty to choose from from the anime creators. And here I thought that there couldn’t possibly anymore brilliant stories aside from the ones that the TV-series adapted!

Storytelling: 10/10 – Clever, powerful, excellent pacing. Just about everything went right here.
Characters: 9/10 – For a movie they’re really impressive, and shine in their character-development.
Production-Values: 9/10 – Beautiful art, good animation, fantastic soundtrack.
Setting: 8/10 – In what other anime do you get to see the rise of Buddhism in Japan?

One Response

  1. Avatar Perrin4869 says:

    I liked Houou-Hen too, but my personal favorite of the movies was Uchuu-Hen. My least favorite was Yamato-Hen, unless you count 2772, although that one was more aimed at children, so it was to be expected.
    Hi no Tori stories are indeed good. I wonder what Osamu Tezuka had in mind for Hi no Tori, seeing as all his stories were converging into modern age… It’s a shame we’ll never know…

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