Posted 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 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
    (Wednesday, Apr 16. 2014 12:29 PM)
    I just read the book. Never saw the films.
  • Emma
    (Wednesday, Apr 16. 2014 11:18 AM)
    Lolita is one of my favourite films of all time.
  • Emma
    (Wednesday, Apr 16. 2014 11:17 AM)
    It is easy to see however how people would wander to seeing lolita herself as a victim as people traditionally see the child as the victim in that situation.
  • Emma
    (Wednesday, Apr 16. 2014 11:15 AM)
    @Aidan: My opinion of lolita matches yours. However I would like to ask of the film adaptations which one worked better for you, the one with James mason or the one with Jeremy Irons?
  • AidanAK47
    (Wednesday, Apr 16. 2014 10:47 AM)
    I didn’t like how people tended to degrade the characters just to match their view and forcefully paint black and white over it. It ain’t that simple.
  • AidanAK47
    (Wednesday, Apr 16. 2014 10:47 AM)
    For example I read Lolita recently. In my opinion it was about two remarkable flawed indivuals. Horrible in there own ways. However when I looked at reviews of it I couldn’t help but notice that people tended to take sides. Either Humbert was the naive man taken in by a succubus or Lolita was the poor stupid girl abused by a monster.
  • AidanAK47
    (Wednesday, Apr 16. 2014 10:40 AM)
    One of the reason I feel we hear about world war 2 far more than world war 1 is that it can be so easily be portrayed as good vs evil. Hitler was a perfect supervillain. Maybe even birthed the supervillain in fiction. It wasn’t like world war 1 which was not just one countries fault and was mainly boring trench fights. Moral complexity isn’t really what the masses like. They have a tendency to paint things black and white.
  • AidanAK47
    (Wednesday, Apr 16. 2014 10:27 AM)
    @Friend, heard of it. No real interest in playing it.
  • AidanAK47
    (Wednesday, Apr 16. 2014 10:27 AM)
    @Mikey, I know apocalypse now was based on heart of darkness. It’s just that the man who made spec ops said it was based on Heart of darkness but he took way more from apocalypse now than he did from Heart of darkness.
  • AidanAK47
    (Wednesday, Apr 16. 2014 10:25 AM)
    @Ninjarealist, I had a peak at the congo free state. Damn. You gotta wonder how someone pulls shit like this off and look in the mirrior and not think “Man, I am such an asshole.” Surprising that you hear bitching about 9/11 all the time and yet barely anything about this.
    It’s surprising the kind of unbelievable stuff that went down in history. For one I never knew Columbus was such a monster.

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