The 2nd Dimension

Friday, April 18, 2008

Viewing Journal: Mind Game

Movie Overview
(Not yet available in US)
Bittorrent Download

Overall= B-
Story = C+
Video = A-
Audio = B

Nishi has always loved Myon since they were little. And now as adults, he wants to pursue his dream of becoming a manga artist and marrying his childhood sweetheart. There's one problem, though. She's already been proposed to and she thinks Nishi is too much of a wimp. But upon meeting the fiancé while at her family's diner and accepting him as a good guy, they encounter a couple Yakuza (Japanese mafia), only to have Nishi grasp a certain revelation. And, with his newly aquired look on life, adventures abound as he, Myon, and her sister, Yan, escape the Yakuza into a most unlikely location where they meet an old man... (Source: ANN)
The first half of this movie is incredible. It is odd, frantic, and fast moving, and so different that I didn't want to take my eyes from the screen just because I wanted to see what would come next. You have everything from Yakuza soccer players, a trip to the afterlife with a randomly shape-shifting god, to an impossible wild car chase down the streets of Tokyo. And if it was able to keep up that pace, this movie may have been one of the coolest things I'd ever seen. But then Nishi, Myon, and her sister are suddenly and inexplicably swallowed by a whale.

So then I'm thinking, okay, that's a bit out of the blue, but what the heck, let's see what further wackiness befalls the heroes. But the problem is that nearly the entire rest of the movie takes place inside this whale, with the characters goofing around, eating fresh fish, contemplating what is going on in the outside world, and Nishi and Myon building their romance. It's still entertaining, and the characters do some pretty goofy stuff as they try to pass the time, making for some cool visuals; but compared to the fast pace of the first half, the plot in this second part seems stagnant. But then comes the climactic escape, which is so outlandishly intense and wild that it nearly makes up for that stagnation.

But then that's mostly where it ends. There are a bunch of scenes that show life and how it ends up for the characters, and then -- as if out of fear that things have ended too nicely -- it wraps up with a vague final couple of scenes that to me were kind of a let-down, but I guess appropriate given the overall tone.

Though regardless of how well plotted it is, the visuals are what really drive the movie. They're colorful and very abstract -- similar in style to Tekkon Kinkreet. But it takes it a couple steps further by varying the style on occasion, even going so far as to use real-life shots of the actors faces in at certain parts. At other times it shifts to cartoony animation, or to a more freeform style. It's not a random shift though, because the style matches and reflects the tone of the associated scene. And the overall experience is something so different from any other anime I've seen -- in a good way -- that the experience alone would make it worth multiple viewings.

In the end, though, I think the real appeal of this movie is that it is so different. With so many similar storylines and art styles in anime, it's refreshing to see a movie that can breaks free from the pack and do something original -- and do it relatively well. I wouldn't call this a masterpiece in filmmaking but it is an overall fun ride and well worth checking out.

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