Friday, April 9, 2010

Revolutionary Girl Utena The Movie - The Real Moulin Rouge of Anime

As stated in my previous post, Osamu Tezuka's Metropolis was touted as "the Moulin Rouge of anime." What that really means is that it was a movie that took a favorite genre and mixed in all the best elements to make a new whole. What I find wrong about that statement is that calling the film "the Moulin Rouge of anime" is doing a disservice to animation in general.

Animation, specifically the anime style, is not a genre, it's a medium than can tell any number of stories. Anime is not just giant robots and girls with guns. It's limitless.
With that in mind, Revolutionary Girl Utena The Movie is more a "Moulin Rouge of anime" than Metropolis. Rooted in the genre of Shojo Anime (anime written with a female perspective), Utena uses anime devices to explore the psyche of all these characters presented in the film, namely our main heroine Utena.
Utena has arrived at Ohtori Academy - a school that seems to be alive like the stairs in the Harry Potter movies- leaving a forgotten past behind. She is swept up accidentally into protecting Anthy, The Rose Bride. What follows is a visually stunning movie that tells it's story through symbolism, Freudian Dialogue and anime storytelling devices.

The music in the movie is very beautiful, led mostly by a piano and a symphonic orchestra. The movie does include two pop songs in two important moments. The effect is powerful.
Utena is not a movie you just watch, but it's a movie you watch and watch and watch as each layer is peeled to reveal an answer, or even more layers. It's also a movie that's full of personal interpretation. The film invites you in to leave the film with your own answers as to what just happened on screen. Don't let all the pink in the movie fool you, this movie deals with some serious themes.

You'll notice I didn't really delve into the plot. Yeah, I did that on purpose. If my review has peaked your curiosity a little, then I advise you check this movie out, and let it engulf you. The movie is like a little seed. Once you view, it will blossom into a beautiful big rose. Or just watch the series it's based off of. :-)

Images were taken from Empty Movement:Your Daily Dose of Shojo Kakumei Utena

Osamu Tezuka's Metropolis - A History Lesson in Anime

Upon it's American release in 2002 by TriStar, Osamu Tezuka's Metropolis was touted as "the Moulin Rouge of anime." Based on Osamu Tezuka's classic manga Metropolis, the film version is a nice combination of classic animation and where it might be heading. Granted now it's 2010 in my own time so it will be much easier to judge wether or not Metropolis' vision of the future of animation held.
The film, helmed by top anime director Rintaro and scripted by Akira creator Katsuhiro Otomo, tells the story of politics, war and a bunch of other grown up stuff I don't care to discuss. At the heart of the story is the friendship between the young hero Kenichi and the mysterious Tima, whom he meets when he gets seperated from his detective uncle , Shunsaku Ban, who's hired by Metropolis' Duke Red to solve a mystery. Also involved is Atlas, an extreme activist for human rights against robots. Atlas is voice by Scott Weigner in the english version, who is also the voice for Disney's Aladdin.
The plot borrows heavily from Fritz Lang's Metropolis (my favorite movie ever). When that movie was released, creator Osamu Tezuka -The Godfather of Anime - passed by a poster of the classic silent film and was inspired to write his manga. He had never seen the silent film. This movie version, made after Tezuka's death, uses themes and plot points from the original movie but never becomes an animated remake. Fans of the silent film will find much to love in this retelling, especially since the look and feel is very 1920s.
The soundtrack of Metroplis' is a nice mix of big John William's type orchestra, and New Orleans Jazz. Ray Charles even makes an appearance with the song "I Can't Stop Loving You" in the film's climactic moment.

The look and feel of the characters is inspired by the simplicity of Japanese Animated Characters, and even American Animated Characters, during the early days of animation. It would look like an old Disney movie if it weren't for all the CGI in the background. The CGI  itself blends very easily with the 2d animated characters and never detracts the attention from the characters.

Eventually  CGI would take over animation almost completely, but it looks like the heart of 2d animation is making a comeback with an emphasis on storytelling devices in CGI animated features.
The movie is worth a viewing if not to see what an awesome medium animation is in telling a story as big as Metropolis.