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.

Suggestions:
Metropolis
Hi no Tori – Uchuu-Hen
Hi no Tori – Houou-hen

8 Responses

  1. Avatar 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. Avatar 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. Avatar Mr. Mestopheles says:

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

  4. Avatar 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. Avatar 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. Avatar gan says:

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

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