Posted by psgels on 23 December 2011 with categories: Anime Reviews

Um. Yeah… about this movie.

It already had an unusual staff behind it. It’s directed by the director of Spriggan, written by a guy who worked on all kinds of series from Element Hunters to Spice and Wolf, the character designs are by the same guy who designed the characters for Ghost in the Shell, Jin Roh and the Sky Crawlers, the storyboards are done by the guys who animated things like Cannon Fodder and A Tree of Palme and it’ produced by Studio Pierrot. Oh, and just a small detail: the animation director is freaking Shinji Hashimoto. If you don’t know who Shinji Hashimoto is, watch this. That’s just a small portion of the talent of someone who is amongst the best animators in the business.

If you’re wondering what good animation is: just watch this movie. The animation here isn’t necessarily flashy, but the fluidity and the motions are just incredible. There are so many visual ideas in this movie. There is so much motion in it, even for movie standards. This really is the first production in more than half a decade in which Studio Pierrot really got to show off their unique animation style if you don’t count a few random episodes here and there that just happen to have the right staff. It is great that producers still continue to give people like Shinji Hashimoto opportunities to oversee the animation of entire productions, because like this movie shows: the result just looks incredible. As for the rest of the movie though….

Look, the problem isn’t with the acting. The voice acting is perfectly fine. The pacing is also pretty acceptable: it’s slow, but it never drags. The choice of music is a bit weird for a series that is about Japan of 1200 years ago, but it ends up working very nicely. The setting is also something that interests me a lot. A time when Jesus wasn’t even a thousand years old yet is not something we get to see often. This would have been a very good movie… if it wasn’t for the story.

Because yes, this is a serious story about the history and heritage of Japan. And yes, it’s about a random boy who gets transported there and gets to command dragons for no particular reason. Whoop-dee-doo.

Now, this alone isn’t necessarily a bad thing; it all depends on how well it’s handled. Unfortunately, everything just goes too easy for this kid. All he has to do is glow a bit, and then suddenly he can command this huge dragon (who has no personality whatsoever by the way, even though he’s the titular Millennium Dragon). Because of this lack of urgency for him, he starts worrying about morals. The result is that he spends a large part of the movie whining and trying to convince everyone not to fight.

I don’t know what’s worse: the fact that he’s actually trying this, or the fact that the potentially interesting setting was reduced to such a farce to make this actually possible. This movie is completely shallow. At first things the sakes seem huge on this series, but eventually things degrade into a conflict because this kid has a trauma because his parents died. The only things that actually resemble this setting are the images. Apart from that it seems that the writers put in no research whatsoever into the setting they were dealing with.

This is the kind of children’s movie that dumbs itself down way too much, for the sake of appealing to kids. It’s such a shame, when the animation is so good, it just doesn’t have the story to back it up with. There are just fundamental problems with the writing staff here.

Storytelling: 7/10 – Solid storytelling, but there is hardly any substance.
Characters: 7/10 – Well, it has potential, but the main character is just too young and puts the priorities on the wrong place.
Production-Values: 9/10 – Really great animation, a ton of fluidity, a ton of animation ideas.
Setting: 7/10 – Interesting setting, but underutilized.

Suggestions:
Yona Yona Penguin
A Tree of Palme
Kai Doh Maru

3 Responses

  1. Avatar Alec says:

    this movie is a waste of money

  2. Avatar Alec says:

    Lol. I was like If that monster in a mask happens to be a beautiful girl, I’d facepalm myself. Turns out it was lol

  3. Avatar Blue Bomber says:

    Sounds like Gundam with dragons… -___-

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