The anime programme at this year’s LIFF was dogged by a sense of incompleteness. You had two films from long running JUMP franchises, the first part of a trilogy that feels more like the first third of a film and the second part of a four part film sequence that is also a remake/sequel of 15 year old TV show. Only the final film felt like a complete finished product.
Gintama The Movie
I’ve seen about 5 minutes of Gintama before, so this film of a story arc from somewhere in the middle of the manga wasn’t really aimed at me. In fact the characters admit as much early in the film. And the action sequences aren’t all that dazzling either.
However, there were amusing gags throughout, gratuitous Golgo 13 references and, more importantly, the pre-credit and post-credit sequences are genius pieces of fourth wall breaking gag writing and have an amusing narrative based around the fact Warner Brothers were distributing the film.
And it made me want to check out the TV series, so in that sense it achieved something.
One Piece Strong World
It’s not the best One Piece movie in terms of being a good film, that would still be the sixth film, but in terms of capturing the characters and more importantly, the tone of the manga chapters that were coming out simultaneous to this, creator Eiichiro Oda’s involvement really pays off.
And it’s more accessible to non-fans too than the Gintama movie, as it’s a stand alone story and provides better visual set pieces. Still it’s not for everyone, the people sitting near me were all new to One Piece, and half found it boring, and the other half found it entertaining.
If you are a fan, you’ll likely love it though.
This felt very much like a good idea that was overcooked by adding too many other ideas into the mix. The film is essentially about rape, and how rape is more about control rather than sex. The problem is it’s so overloaded with other underdeveloped ideas early on that it ends up having to spell it out too loudly in the end, with the lead literally screaming an explanation to another character (and thus the audience).
The jist of the story is that an abused and murdered teenage girl is brought back to life and asked to testify against her murderer. She initially accuses the investigators who brought her back of controlling & abusing her, in that they only want her alive to bring the murderer to justice. She is convinced by one of them, an intelligent mouse-turned-bioweapon, to take the stand, but then she in turn starts to become an abuser of sorts.
And that’s not even getting into the memory thefts, body modifications, post-mortem law, privatised detectives, ridiculously over the top villains/victims and other ideas that over egg Mardock Scramble.
It all results in a film that is relentlessly talky for much of it’s short running time (66 minutes), and for my money animated feature films should never be that talky. Had they cut the techno-babble down and engaged in more visual storytelling it would have been a marked improvement.
It’s not terrible as it is now, the central theme is strong and once established, it stands out from the mess surrounding it. I suspect once the remaining two-thirds are animated it will hold together better (and maybe in the end they can cut it all down into a single, leaner film).
Moved a bit faster on second viewing compared to when I saw it in May, but still feels like a film that’s all middle. Only thing I noticed afresh was that Mari breaks Shinji’s SDAT player, something I’d missed in my first watch. And thinking about how if she’s supposed to look “British”, and is a delinquent who manipulates adults, if she was in any way inspired by the St Trinian’s books/films.
Nothing new to add from my first review, beyond the fact it was nice to actually hear the first 10 minutes or so properly this time. Still great and light years ahead of anything else shown on the day.