Imagine a world where nature isn’t passive…a world where the trees fought back against deforestation, controlled the water supplies and actually turned humans into slaves to do their own bidding. You probably would think that such a world is scary to live in and let me just say one thing; it damn right is. Origin: spirits of the past is a story which focuses on such a world and how humanity is being pushed to the brink by Mother Nature (okay, you can minus the “turning into slaves part” as that was just a joke).
Just like I have mentioned in the Sekirei post I am in university right now (yay, freedom!) which also means that there are many societies to join. Luckily for me the place where I am at has their very own
Genshiken…I mean anime society. Naturally for me it was a great chance to meet likeminded people and so I attended an anime screening they held which was Origins: spirits of the past.
To put it into a nutshell about how I felt about the movie; it was between bad and below average.
You usually fine me defending GONZO for not being as bad as people make their works out to be, but this time I can honestly say that it wasn’t a very good movie that they produced.
Basically the movie is about the world in and apocalyptic future after scientists on the moon screwed up big time to produce the super trees which will grow in any environment. They succeeded but the ability to grow wasn’t the only trait the trees had; those foolish humans somehow managed to give the trees a sense of consciousness as well. These trees managed to descend to earth where they were nearly able to wipe out all of humanity. Somewhere between these events, some humans were put to cryogenic suspension and the story sets off when a boy (called Agito) released a girl (Toola) from her deep slumber.
If there is one thing that I got from the movie, it was that it just reinforces my previous beliefs, is that genetic engineering is bad; and trying to create a “super breed” of anything will just lead to human self destruction (why does it have to be humans killing themselves all the time, just look back at Strike Witches and guh…).
The premise for the movie was quite interesting but even so the story telling and events shown in the movie were lacking. There was never really any sense of danger even with the pressure of the “living forest” which was causing humanity to die from thirst. As ridiculous as it sounds, the act of Mother Nature controlling water supplies had quite a big impact on humanity but the scope of it was fairly microscopic as the whole idea of it focused on only a small part of the world, therefore undermining the full picture.
Sure the movie had a message; the message was a) to not screw with nature but most importantly b) to not dwell on the past and look for the future. This was the major lesson learned by the lead female character, Toola but the impact of such a lesson was nonexistent, and I think I know the reason why. There wasn’t any character development and hence I do not “feel” anything for the characters (more on this later).
But another factor which the movie lacked…well actually there is more than one. Watching this movie was “entertaining” so to speak but by the end of it, it felt nothing more than an empty shell. This makes the movie forgettable and will be unlikely to stick onto the minds of viewers for very long (heck I’m even having trouble thinking of what to write as parts of the movie was responsible for switching my brain off). What I was expecting was a movie that gave the viewers a chance to sit on the edge of their seats; this movie frankly had none of those moments. There was no comedy to break the all serious mood and even that, there seriousness of the movie, was rather empty and drawn out.
The pacing for the movie was just awful in retrospect to other movies (namely Kiki’s delivery service which was the other movie shown today but I don’t have time to write about it right now) I’ve seen. Issues I felt that should have been explored deeper were quickly tossed aside and resolutions came about too damn quick with no explanation. As soon as something interesting happens (like the fight between Agito and Shunack) it was doomed to end in a rushed manner. But because this is a movie, I guess it is understandable that events would be pushed for time but from my point of view, this movie would have been better being made into a 6 episode OVA as 94 minutes clearly wasn’t enough to provide enough depth for…anything.
The movie did not use anytime for unnecessary fluff “filler time” and it was clear that they simply tried to do too much within a limited amount of time.
Like I said before, character development was nonexistent. This had a serious negative impact for the movie because of how the viewers never really got to know the characters and hence anything they do comes of an empty and insignificant. When I watch something I would want to feel for the characters (and I am sure that all of you guys want that feeling too) so the lack of was disappoint and took so much away from the movie as a whole.
The main female character of the movie, I actually quite liked her character design but when it came to personality…there was none. She was naive and didn’t know what to do with herself half of the times. This didn’t help at all due to the lack of development or should I say the lack of “bonding scenes” with Agito. Normally, when you fall in love with a guy you get to know them first. Rather than that, it seems like the movie skips through any traces of these two knowing each other leaving the viewers feeling confused when we see Agito going to such lengths to save her or why Toola was even crying for the “dead” Agito. The change of heart from Toola to move onto the future with Agito was also weak…she never had much of an opinion in the first place and what I feel is that this important message of the movie was ultimately lost (I can’t help but keep saying “such a shame” to myself).
Quite possibly one of the worse male leads I have seen to date and that is no exaggeration. This guy yet again shows no character at all due to the lack of development. We received no explanation for why he was so determined to save Toola in such an extreme way and even if he did seem desperate to prove a point, I didn’t see it. All I saw was a madman who can stop yelling “Toola” even though she clearly can’t hear him…and when I said before that there was no comedy scenes in the movie, I lied. Watching Agito screaming like retard, running like a headless chicken definitely made me laugh (in my mind anyway because I was surrounded by a lot of people at the time, wouldn’t want to offend anyone…oops).
As for the rest of the cast? I’ve forgotten who they were already.
Animation & soundtrack
The animation on the other hand was something else. I have seen plenty of examples of how GONZO loves to play with CGs but the movie was a nice mixture of both and done with stype and quality. It is such a shame that the story wasn’t up to scratch.
The soundtrack by Taku Iwasaki was also pretty good. It created a range of unique atmospheres where only a handful of times did I really think that the tracks weren’t utilized properly. But the real gems came from the OP and ED themes of the movie. Kokia had such an amazing voice…simply breathtaking.
Can I say that this was a potentially good movie gone sour? The premise like I’ve said before wasn’t bad but the execution was horrible. The movie ran out of time on a lot of things as it tries to ask too many questions without enough time for the answer and all the things in between to be shown properly. There was no soul or spark from the movie and after a long day, watching it was a test of endurance (i.e. trying not to fall asleep) more than anything else.
Rating for the movie: 2.5/10
(1 for the animation, 1 for the OP/ED and .5 for everything else).