Posted by psgels on 30 May 2010 with categories: Anime Reviews



I know that this is an anime blog, however that doesn’t mean that I’m not allowed to talk about anything else. Japan certainly isn’t the only country that can produce great works of animation. I’ve reviewed Korean and Chinese movies, so why not? This Oscar nominated co-production between Ireland, France and Belgium is certainly worth a look, and I also believe that modern anime can learn a lot from it.

The graphics of this movie are very impressive. At first the character-designs may seem simple, especially the lead character Brendon. However, the animation itself totally makes up for it, as it is incredibly smooth. What steals the show is the artistic direction, though. Gorgeous, imaginative and varied, this is a feast for the senses. The soundtrack is also excellent; it’s a great composition that combines traditional instruments with a modern soundtrack feeling.

The story looks a lot like a family movie, but make no mistake that this is based on Irish folklore. On one hand you have some often used tropes of a boy who wanders into a forest and meets a cute mysterious girl spirit. On the other hand, this movie is also about the Viking invasion of Ireland. It’s got a surprisingly elaborate story to go through in just seventy minutes, on top of building up its characters. There’s also plenty of character-development, the characters are all likable, and the most important ones are well fleshed out.

The creators may have been a bit too ambitious with this, though. Trying to stuff as much as they did in this movie lead to a number of strange leaps in logic, or plot twists that lack poor build-up. The ending for example is based on a bunch of great ideas, but the creators reserved too little time to make it flow naturally, reducing impact from what it could have been.

Storytelling: 8/10 – A bit rushed, but well told, nice humour, excellent scenario.
Characters: 9/10 – Engaging characters in Irish folklore.
Production-Values: 9/10 – Excellent artistic direction. Very fluid animation.
Setting: 8/10 – Great portrayal of the old Ireland, though the Vikings and other monsters don’t get a lot of depth.

Suggestions:
Comedy
Arete Hime
Night on the Galactic Railroad

14 Responses

  1. Firechick says:

    I am kind of surprised that you’d review something like this on your blog, even if it’s not technically a Japanese anime (in this case, it’d probably be a French-Irish-Belgian anime movie…kinda).

    Hey, I have a question…did you ever watch that French show called Code Lyoko? I saw the first three seasons (I kept missing episodes of the final season so I wasn’t able to finish it) and I really liked it. The first season doesn’t have much plot development, but it does in the second ones and the ones after that supposedly. Plus I have a friend who’s obsessed with it.

  2. psgels psgels says:

    I know which show you’re talking about, I caught a few random episodes of it on TV during zaping. It didn’t look like much impressive though, just another school adventure. That must have been the first season, then.

  3. Penguin_Factory says:

    I’ve always been sort of curious about this since there were posters all over the place for it when it came out, as there always is when a domestically produced movie is made (as usual, no one cared).

    It certainly looks fantastic, I’ll give them that.

  4. Ebod says:

    My friends have been gushing about this movie for a while now, so I’m really glad you reviewed it. I heard it was nominated for an Oscars for best animated film, too.

  5. AidanAK47 says:

    This really is a surprise. I never thought you would review this but I am happy you did. I am an Irishman myself and seeing how well the film done I checked it out myself.

    My thoughts were similar to yours. However I believe it was intentional that the vikings didn’t get a lot of depth. The main reason I say is that we see the vikings in the same way that the Irish of the time saw them. In this they seem to be shown as demons.Random people who show up out of nowhere speaking in words that no one understands. Beings that only kill and steal. Or at least that’s how the Irish saw them.

    Crom Cruach on the other hand deserved more depth. I read up on the fellow and seen that he was the god worshiped before St Patrick came. In this film he was built up to be a terrible unbeatable evil but then belittled and destroyed in a matter of three minutes.

    I was very impressed with the film. I didn’t go into it with high expectations but found it to be much more than I imagined.

  6. Denizen says:

    I’d love to see you do reviews of other pieces of animation, the more obscure the better, regardless of country.

    Or any movie you catch, for that matter – even if you put it somewhere separate from the rest of the blog.

  7. szendroib says:

    Oh and dont forget, that the cartoon was animated in Hungary (im proud we produced a beautiful animation at last). It was a pleasure to watch this movie for me, because the style of animation is “borrowed” from a cartoon series I grew up on: Hungaryan Folk Tales (ofc it was modernized a little).

    Aside from that, i found the story to be a little light, but pretty engaging. Due to the characters and the animation. As far as i know, the story is the origin story of an existing codex (wikipedia:) ), so it added an other layer of depth. My only problem was the ending, it was a little rushed, and didnt really feel right. But its a pretty good animated movie nontheless.

    OFF: Sorry for my english:)

  8. szendroib says:

    Oh and dont forget, that the cartoon was animated in Hungary (im proud we produced a beautiful animation at last). It was a pleasure to watch this movie for me, because the style of animation is “borrowed” from a cartoon series I grew up on: Hungaryan Folk Tales (ofc it was modernized a little).

    Aside from that, i found the story to be a little light, but pretty engaging. Due to the characters and the animation. As far as i know, the story is the origin story of an existing codex (wikipedia:) ), so it added an other layer of depth. My only problem was the ending, it was a little rushed, and didnt really feel right. But its a pretty good animated movie nontheless.

    OFF: Sorry for my english:)

  9. Machi says:

    Hm try Persepolis next then if you want to explore animation outside of Japan.

  10. yo says:

    Is this movie going to become available in North America? It looks good and I want to see it.

  11. Eirias says:

    This movie is currently in a limited engagement in the US. I saw it the other day at my local independent theatre. Amazing animation coupled with a serving of Celtic mythos = one good flick.

  12. Johnson says:

    Persepolis is awesome. A close second is Waltz With Bashir. Very different films.

    I’ve seen Kells; it’s good but doesn’t even come close two the aforemetioned.

  13. UmbrellaMan says:

    It’s worth a view just to watch the extremely cute white cat, Pangur Ban. She was so sassy and sweet. Can I say I want to take her home? Lol

  14. Senna says:

    I’ve been curious about this one since the Academy Awards. Hope it becomes available in my area soon, since it sounds good.

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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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