Well, since yesterday I posted something to make you all believe I’m a normal, socially acceptable person, today I will turn back to anime. 🙂
Tonight I actually went to two anime films. I know, right? Things just went to a whole new level.
The first was a film (The Life of Budori Gusuko) based on a novel by a Buddhist man, so there was the whole life-cycle, do good for man themes going on. Which is something I really love and respect about Buddhism, and I find it completely fascinating, so when I got that synopsis, I was super excited about it. But it turned out that the best (and arguable only good part) about the movie was that all the characters were cats, so I got to watch this adorable face for two hours:
Other than that, the movie made absolutely no sense. There were these crazy dream sequences, and I was never sure if he was dying and being reincarnated, or if he was just asleep. Not only that, but they mixed up animation styles. The first world he lived in was anime style, but then it changed to computer animation where only the cats were anime, and the dream sequences were in crappy, incongruous Cartoon-Network style animation. But the WORST part was the dialogue was completely unnatural and slow, like a research paper. I literally fell asleep. And I can’t say it was just the translation, because I’ve seen plenty of anime with brilliant dialogue.
However, the second movie (FUSE: Memoirs of the Hunter Girl) made up for it. And, surprise, surprise, it was rife with gender role issues! But I’m actually going to refrain as much as possible from talking about that.
The second movie was about a hunter girl who lives alone in the mountains, sad and lonely, until she gets and invite from her brother to move in with him in the city. She is an excellent hunter, top in the craft, and has never been outside the mountain and is pretty uneducated. But she ventures off to live with her brother.
The city where her brother lives is haunted by werewolves (called “fuse,” pronounced foo-say) that rip your soul out of your chest and eat it. So the brother convinces her to hunt the werewolves with him. In the meantime, she’s met this mysterious man who shows her things and makes her feel things she’s never felt, as well as this best girl friend who supports her and makes her broaden her perspective on life.
So she and her brother end up finding and killing one of the werewolves, so the city knows there is only one left. Long story short, the mysterious man confesses to being the werewolf and asks the hunter girl to kill him since he’s the only one left, but she can’t bring herself to do it. So he runs off in a rage.
Then the girl has a mini identity crisis wondering if she should’ve killed him. In that time, some wise words from her brother’s fiancee and her bff help her realize that she should just be and do what she wants. She doesn’t have to conform to some societal standard. She doesn’t have to be passive and pathetic because she’s a woman, or masculine just because she hunts. She can hunt and be feminine at the same time (end of gender role discussion, I promise).
Armed with a new sense of self worth, she hunts down the last werewolf. By now a bunch of other kids are hunting him down, too. She finally corners him as he is about to attempt suicide and stops him. She tells him that she learned that there were some werewolves that learned to tame their taste for human souls, and that he could do the same, and that she’s in love with him. He says that he doesn’t trust himself with her and leaves.
And she lives happily. She learns how to read and write so she can write him a letter, but not knowing if she’ll ever hear back, she moves forward with her life, making friends and accomplishing things, because she now knows who she is and is comfortable with herself for her own sake.
So in case you didn’t notice, this was pretty much the Japanese Twilight. The werewolf even had shiny hair. BUT this had everything in it that Twilight lacked that would’ve made it acceptable as literature. AKA learning something, self respect, healthy relationships, self efficacy through the development of skills and identity…you know, stuff that people should care about reading and emulating.
Besides that great story line, everything else about the film was masterfully done. The story arc was masterfully crafted. Every character contributed to the theme. The pacing was perfect. The animation was beautiful. Okay, maybe that’s a bit of an exaggeration. The pacing wasn’t 100% perfect. But everything else was. I tend to rave about movies because I’m very forgiving, but sincerely, I felt like I was watching a carefully executed masterpiece that was a rare gem among thousands of sell outs. It was beautiful. Just beware if you can’t handle animated gore.