On Day 4, I watched From up on Poppy Hill. You’ll be amused to learn that I did not find an English sub or dub and had to watch it raw. Despite having only a low intermediate knowledge of Japanese, I never felt lost while watching the plot or listening to the dialogue. That the themes of this movie revolved around basic things like family, friends, love, and young people striving for independence helped.
That the animation imitated an older style (it felt like I was watching something from 2001, not 2011) added a nice touch to the story. The images of the ships and the waterfront were beautiful, but I also enjoyed the scenes of crowded city streets. All in all, the backgrounds do a nice job of immersing the viewer in that time and place.
I had forgotten that Satoshi Kon directed Millenium Actress until his name rolled across the opening credits. Even if one had missed his name, the quirky Satoshi Kon method of transitioning from scene to scene would have tipped me off. Millennium Actress reminds me of Perfect Blue. The two movies have many points of comparison; yet, their treatment of living in a fantasy world are very different. You might call Perfect Blue‘s treatment of fantasy and delusion via negativa, while Millenium Actress stands as a via positiva. I’d love to read any blog posts comparing and contrasting the two. Send such a blog my way if you’ve written one, dear reader. I’ll reblog the first three of you!
Millennium Actress covers the life of Chiyoko Fujiwara from her teens in WWII Japan to her old age in contemporary Japan. The movie is a framed story, with Chiyoko’s life being the center and the interview of Chiyoko conducted by Genya Tachibana, a very avid fan, with his assistant in modern times framing the tale. Amusingly, Genya and his assistant–in the fashion of how Satoshi Kon mixes reality and fantasy–appear to film her life as if they were right there beside her. I won’t spoil just how much Genya participates in Chiyoko’s life, but there’s not another movie which uses quite the same idea.
The Boy and the Beast was a fun movie–even a great movie. I loved the animation, which excelled both in the action sequences and when depicting the backgrounds. Some of the scenes in Tokyo do a remarkable job of making the viewer feel like he is right there with Kyuuta. The soundtrack melded seamlessly with the action of the story.
My biggest complaint might very well be the dub. I watched it in English, and actresses were selected to voice the boy characters. The Japanese do this all of the time. However, when the Japanese actresses take on the roles of boys, I never find myself thinking: “Well, that’s an unnaturally sexy voice coming out of that kid.” It might very well have been better to have used some young male talents for these parts. The voice talents of John Swasey as Kumatetsu and Ian Sinclair as Tatara stood out as the two best performaces. I do not think that I have heard the latter gentleman before. Sinclair’s voice sounds very similar to Steve Blum’s (Spike Spiegel of Cowboy Bebop and Makoto Shishio in Rurouni Kenshin).