Posted by psgels on 21 June 2012 with categories: Anime Reviews

Ah, Medaka Box can wait. First there is a movie I want to talk about: Buddha. It’s been a while since a movie really made me go “wow”.

Of course, I am a big fan of Osamu Tezuka. Next year it’ll be fifty years since the debut of the anime Astro Boy, and his stories still stand out as unique. Some of the movies and series that are adapted from his works stand among my favorites. The reason why this movie surprised me however was because of how it started; not every adaptation of Osamu Tezuka is brilliant, and a lot of them are either too childish or just too silly to properly enjoy, and the Buddha movie starts as the latter. The opening scene had a point to it, but it’s just so bizarre with some of the weirdest acting by animals that it made a very nasty opening for this series.

And after that though, this movie completely delivers. The storyline really is typical Osamu Tezuka, as it shows a very liberal interpretation of the man who would later be Buddha. The movie has the st-up that many other works by the God of Manga have: many different characters who all have their own stories that sometimes intertwine, a story that only shows its true self once it has been going on for more than half an hour (heck, Buddha isn’t even born yet in the movie’s opening 30 minutes), lots of time-skips and most importantly: tons and tons of character-development.

All of those things make his stories unique, but the character-development really stands out: just about every important character goes through a complete change that is meaningful and well built up. Buddha is no different here. I still can’t believe how much change the creators managed to put in just two hours.

It also shouldn’t be surprised that there are huge Buddhist themes in this movie. Osamu Tezuka has used them in some of his other stories, Hi no Tori notably featured some brilliant insights in both its good sides and bad sides. Buddha meanwhile is a more positive look on the faith, which brings me to what really caught my attention about this movie, because everything else about it is completely and utterly dark.

Seriously, don’t let the looks fool you. This movie is full of abuse, death, pain and suffering. Its characters are constantly struggling to get better lives, only to suffer huge life-changing set-backs. There are some huge karma themes in this movie, as with some of Tezuka’s other works, but I can’t recall any other work that has so many of them. This movie also has some incredible plot twists that just keep pushing this further and further. Serioulsy, this movie is 2 hours long and hardly ever takes things slow. It always manages to find something interesting to throw at its characters.

Toei also put some really good animators on this movie. At first it might not seem that way because there are plenty of rushed and simple shots, but some of the fight scenes have really smooth animation. In particular there is one huge battle scene between two armies that manages to bring every soldier to life, on top of having completely fluid animation that on top of that has some really creative and dynamic animation.

Now, is this the best adaptation we’ve seen from Osamu Tezuka? No, but that’s because it’s competition is just so damn strong: most of these adaptations just seem to fit perfectly into the movie format, while I feel that Buddha was a bit rushed here and there, especially in the beginning, plus some of the acting can get a bit weird at times. Nevertheless, the creativity of this movie is really something to be praised. Best movie of the year so far.

Storytelling: 9/10 – Just keeps the plot twists coming, and manages to weave a ton of different storylines together.
Characters: 9/10 – Amazing character-development, as expected from Osamu Tezuka.
Production-Values: 8,5/10 – The animation is inconsistent, but when it’s good, it’s really good.
Setting: 8,5/10 – Very creative, uses its Buddhist themes really well, but there are also a few things here and there that are portrayed a bit too silly.

Hi no Tori – Uchuu-Hen
Hi no Tori – Houou-hen

8 Responses

  1. Mr. Mestopheles says:

    I’m still trying to wrap my mind around anyone even attempting to animate this one of his. I had no idea it was out there.

  2. Mike says:

    Isn’t this just supposed to be the 1st in a planned film trilogy adaptation of the manga? I would really like to see it.

  3. Mr. Mestopheles says:

    Where do you remember reading that, Mike? I haven’t seen anything like that…

  4. Souther says:

    As a fan of the Buddha manga, despite not being a huge Osamu Tezuka reader in general, I’m a bit afraid of seeing this because they’ve apparently messed around with the story’s chronology, among other changes. It may be a good movie, but I don’t know if it will be a good adaptation.

  5. Will says:

    8.5 for production value is quite generous.
    Let’s keep it simple: the production value sucked.

    • psgels psgels says:

      I disagree with this. Sure, it indeed was inconsistent and there were some badly animated parts, but the well animated parts really made up for it for me.

  6. gan says:

    Did you watch it subbed or raw? Did any group sub it?

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  • AidanAK47
    (Wednesday, Nov 25. 2015 06:51 PM)
    Hype kills anything. In regards to the kind of emotional manipulation Clannad and maybe Undertale uses, it’s like a drug. The more you are subjected to it, the less of an effect it has.
    Still there are examples of something which comes close to expectation. People say Muv Luv Alternative gives you PTSD and in a kinda does. Though it’s helped by the connection you build with the characters though the first two games.
  • AidanAK47
    (Wednesday, Nov 25. 2015 06:47 PM)
    @Kaiser,I haven’t updated the old entries of my MAL in quite a while. Pretty sure Code Geass is sitting at a 10 on it and I am sure if I give that a rewatch that rating is going to fall harshly.
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Wednesday, Nov 25. 2015 08:59 AM)
    I say this because people often like to hype up the genre or those elements. I bring this up/think about it now because I played a game called undertale lately on my brothers recommendation and he was all like it emotionally destroyed him but I never ended up crying, I mean don’t get me wrong its a good game, there were laughs to be had and there was sentiment but it wasn’t THAT sad/funny.
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Wednesday, Nov 25. 2015 08:44 AM)
    Given how many people cry at some drama, clannad included.
    That reminds me…
    I can’t actually remember the last time in my life where I cried, I draw a blank.
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Wednesday, Nov 25. 2015 07:58 AM)
    @Aidan: Something always feels off to me when you criticize clannad, I mean I’m critical enough of key these days too but it seems odd that you rank it as an 8 on MAL when you’ve always made it sound its more of a high 6 or a 7.
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Wednesday, Nov 25. 2015 03:45 AM)
    But I’m no fan of gung-ho soldier games/most fps games so I am glad clannad, a visual novel outsold call of duty.
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Wednesday, Nov 25. 2015 03:44 AM)
    I said it once I’ll say it again. I preferred the clannad movie over the tv series, had more style, a more mature feel to it and cut out all the superfluous arcs/comedy for the better. It also concludes better than the series. The emotional involvement in the kyoani version doesn’t work for me anymore, doesn’t hold up. However the film remains emotionally engaging after revisiting it.
  • AidanAK47
    (Wednesday, Nov 25. 2015 03:19 AM)
    Holy hell Clannad is selling like hotcakes on Steam. Even beat Call of Duty in sales at one point.
    Kinda happy to see a VN get recognised and it would help open up the market for more titles to come over. But..well..Clannad really isn’t all that great.
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Wednesday, Nov 25. 2015 02:29 AM)
    I can remember when I first got into anime when I was a whole lot younger I always said I would watch lodoss war, El Hazard and slayers, yet I never ended up doing so…
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Tuesday, Nov 24. 2015 05:34 AM)
    Ha, the child in me would love to see a film like that I’d imagine, when I was young I was pretty crazy about Egyptian supernatural stuff.

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