This is a reblog of my site http://geekysweetie.com – Other stuff may appear here such as reblogs from other wordpress.com sites. I blog and reblog about anime, video games, kdrama, toys, technology, and kawaii fashion and decor.
Length: (Approximately) 2 hours feature length film (Also after the credits it says that Lu and Seiren will be back in “The Real Lu Dawn Greeting Song”) Maybe hinting at a 2nd movie (or TV series?) (or could just be a music video or musical or something else). Though the end seems unfinished and seems
Geeky: 2/5 – The animation is odd. Coloring is very “Flat” The faces are not very detailed and the clothing and character designs are a bit simplistic. – I’ve read that the creators wanted to go for a “pop art” style. It’s different from most anime. I don’t think it’s bad. Some of the character designs look like American comic strips in the sunday newspaper. The music and voice acting and story telling though more than make up for the unusual art direction. There’s not much if any action, but I still feel this is an anime that can be enjoyed by both guy and girl geeks.
Sweetie: 5/5 – This film made me cry, mostly from heart warming moments, although it also has its share of sad touching moments too. There are many cute and crazy characters, and the upbeat music and tempo of the anime make it very cute. If you like Studio Ghibli’s Ponyo, I’m sure you will enjoy this as well!
Overall: 40/45 89% B+ “Very Good Anime For Girls”
Story: 10/10 – I loved the story in Lu Over the Wall. A village makes a living from fishing and making umbrellas. Legend tells us that mermaids roam the seas near the village and that they eat humans. Some of the elders of the village have even witnessed their loved ones being bitten and dragged into the sea by merfolks. It also says that music will lure the mermaids closer to the shores, so music is mostly forbidden. Our 3 heroes are highschool (or maybe middle school?) students who meet in secret to perform in a band. They aren’t very good, but they have fun. One day their music lures one such mermaid into their life. – Are the rumors really true that they eat humans? Or are the mermaids simply misunderstood? Some people want to respect and revere the mermaids in fear of a powerful curse. Others want to exploit the mermaids for profit thinking it will bring tourists and opportunities to their quiet village. What fate will befall the mermaids and the villagers? Will they come to understanding, or are they destined to be enemies?
Characters: 10/10 – The characters are very cute. There’s even merdogs in this film! Lu is adorable and child like and sweet.
Artwork: 3/5 – There are cute characters as mentioned above, but the art style is just so different from most mainstream anime that it is a bit distracting at times.
Music: 5/5 – There are a number of vocal and instrumental songs. My 2 favorites are Lu Dawn’s Greeting Song and the Song Kai sings to Lu at the end (not sure of the name).
Voice Acting: 5/5 – the voice actors in Lu Over the Wall put a lot of emotion into their performances, both when singing and acting.
Release Date: 1986 (Japan initial release), 1992 (US, (VHS) first US release), 2004 (US re-release (DVD) with title change)
Where to Watch: I don’t support piracy here, but as a heads up, ALL of the “US Releases” of this film are very severely edited. And YES, that includes even the subtitled versions! I highly recommend that you watch the original Japanese version at least once before passing judgement on this beautiful movie. Of course, I grew up with the VHS in the 90s, and I STILL loved even the heavily edited dubbed version of the film way back then. Last year, I finally got the chance to watch the original Japanese version. A lot of content was cut from the English version, including significant amounts of story content. They change the order of certain scenes, remove most of the violence (and drugs and sex) and have completely re-written the script of the original film to better suit an American audience (where cartoons were (and still are) primarily intended for children). Also all of the music is different in both versions, although it’s very good in both versions as well. Still the overall theme and plot and moral of this heart breaking anime remains the same in both versions. That’s why I really recommend you to try to watch the original film – and then still go ahead and buy the English DVD or VHS to support the creators :). I’m not going to tell you where to find the original online, but you can find it if you look. And then you can purchase the Windaria North American DVD here.
Geeky: 3/5 The music is beautiful, but the artwork is very outdated (losing 1 point). Interestingly enough, the Japanese DVD includes 2 versions of the film, 1 being a “pilot film” where the animation and coloring style is different. (I have never seen this version). Despite the outdated artwork, the character designs are cute and memorable, I often think someone working on Pokemon drew inspiration (perhaps even subconsciously) for fan-favorite Eevee from the little pet squirrel/cat like creature in this film. The story is dark and full of action (and sex and drugs and gore in the original Japanese version). Therefore I feel this film would appeal to all geeks regardless of their genders. I’m removing one more point for the heavy handed editing of all of the US versions of this film. It’s been almost 15 years since the film has been brought to American audiences (for a 2nd time) – so perhaps some day we will see a company pick up the license for this film and do it justice with a more faithful English adaptation.
Sweetie: 5/5 – The story is soul crushingly sad. If you like sad anime, this is for you. Both versions of the film, even the mangled US version(s), still show the tender love stories of the central characters, and demonstrate the costs of war and greed. I happen to be a fan of sad love stories, and this particular anime reminds me of almost a Romeo and Juliet type of fairy tale, 2 lovers who can never be together, and 2 other lovers who have everything but still manage to mess everything up in the end. It’s also a story of regret, love, and greed. It imparts morals to the viewer, to value the love you have or else it may slip away. And that even if you are poor, if you have love, you can be happy. Or you can overlook the happiness you have right in front of you and only realize what you have once it has slipped away. The emotionally engaging story is also heightened by a fantastic music score which further draws the audience into the film.
Overall: 33/45 73% C “Good Anime for Girls”
Story: 9/10 – I removed a point again for the poor handling of every commercially available North American release of this film. Otherthan that small complaint, I give the story 10/10. Even the badly edited version. I loved the anime back in the 90s, and I still love it today. It’s a tale that withstands the tests of time. Universally relateable to anyone who has loved and lost.
The story of Windaria intertwines the fates of 2 very different couples. One couple is a princess and prince from neighboring kingdoms. As tensions mount between the kingdoms, and war seems inevitable… Can their love survive? The other couple lives in a small farming village caught between both warring nations. Their village has remained neutral for years, but as war descends around them, can that peace last? The people of the neutral village are poor, but live happy lives not knowing the tragedies of war, and protected by spirits who live in a giant tree. But can people be influenced to take a side when wealth and adventure knock on their door? How will the war change the lives of the people in this tiny village?
Everything is connected, and you cannot escape war. You can’t remain neutral. You must make a decision and take a risk. What will you risk? Will you risk your life? Your love? Your Home? And how will the war change you? Can you return to your old life after the war ends? Will there even be anything left to return to?
Windaria examines all of these heavy hearted deep thinking questions.
The setting of the story is also very intriguing. We have 2 nations at war. The haves and have nots. One kingdom has plenty of water and wealth and prosperity. They control the flow of water to the neighboring nations. The other nation does not feel they have enough water. They are not nearly as wealthy or powerful as their political neighbor. The lands between the two nations are full of magic and mystery. There is a river where people go crazy and see horrors which are merely reflections of their own fears and feelings, there is the giant magic tree which protects the neighboring farming village, and there’s the ghost ship which takes souls to the other side.
Interestingly enough, although the setting and time of this anime appear to be fantasy based, there is no magic or “fantasy”, instead we see a strange blend of technology in a fantasy world. Airplanes, motorbikes, guns, grenades, tanks, etc.
Characters: 7/10 – I’ll be honest here, it is REALLY hard to like the main character of this film. He is a giant D-bag. Not even gonna lie. You’re going to hate him. He rather have drunken sex and spend all day exploiting his power to get more drugs and wealth and concubines, than return to his girlfriend even after the war ends. It’s not until his own life is in danger that he flees and comes back to his village… or what’s left of it anyways. – Maybe at the end, he has a change of heart, but that doesn’t make up for what a huge D he is in the majority of the film.
The first 15-20 minutes of the film, they build this character and his love up to have this idealistic beautiful love. Everyone in the village recognizes the love between this pair. They are utterly adorable together. They have it all. But that’s not enough for our main character.
In stark contrast, his lady love waits patiently for his return, even when the rest of her village leaves and tries to get her to come to safety with them. This made me hate the main character even more. And when she forgives him for everything, that too amplifies my anger at this character.
But I suppose this is the point of the entire movie. It still isn’t easy to watch or to like, sympathize, or side with the supposed main character of the film.
Our other 2 main characters are considerably more likeable. They are victim of circumstance. They never get a choice in the events happening to them. They are bound by duty. They don’t get to choose a peaceful life of love – which puts into perspective even more, the stupidity of the main character for never realizing the happiness he had back in his own village.
The relationship of the prince and princess is doomed from the start, however, they often dare defy the duties and responsibilities forced upon them, and meet in secret anyways to profess their love and promise each other that one day they will be together. I have never really been 100% sure about the end of their relationship. I can’t tell if what she did was intentional or accidental like perhaps she was playfully chasing and playing with his gun / flirting around. Or if perhaps, she felt the weight of her duty, and decided to put her kingdom above her love and pull that trigger to once and for all, end the war. Either way, their relationship ends in spectacular Romeo and Juliet fashion.
There are a number of minor characters too with very intricate and detailed back stories, including a “crazy” woman who never talks to anyone as she waits for her love to return. Her love chose to become a captain of a ship taking souls to the other side. The captain cannot leave his ship for a specified number of years. (I believe it was 10 years? I can’t recall right now).
At the end of the film, we see that our main character wishes to become the captain of this ship to follow his lady love to the other side. (This is more clear in the Japanese version of the film). The crazy woman and main character both meet in the end (I think maybe the main character was contemplating jumping off the cliff) and he sees the crazy lady still there, waiting for her husband to return. So he resolves also to wait for his love as well. (although I’m pretty sure she can never come back – although a lot of Asian religions believe in reincarnation and so perhaps it is that which he is waiting for, or for his own life to end so then in the afterlife, they can be reunited.) This shows how much thought went into even the most minor of characters to make them have heavy plot focus.
Art: 2/5 – The artwork is dated, because this anime is from the 80s. On almost every website I’ve visited in the past, this anime has horrible reviews. I feel it’s not judged fairly and people are overlooking the beautiful love stories and tragedies and focusing solely on the artwork and animation quality. The character designs are still cute though, and some of the background environments are very pretty. But overall, I’d tend to agree the animation is not clean enough and the character styles are outdated by today’s standards. That still never detracts from my enjoyment of this film.
Music: 5/5 I love the music in Windaria. Both the Japanese and English tracks fit perfectly with the themes and scenes of the film. The music carries much emotion and helps tell the story, complementing the action scenes, and especially painfully highlighting the sad tragic scenes of the anime. I especially love the vocal tracks.
Voice Acting: 2/5 I really dislike both the original Japanese, and the English voice acting of most of the characters. I guess it’s typical for how old this anime is, but almost all of the performances were cringe-worthy. That’s even more reason why someone should pick this license back up and bring in a fresh English cast. The story is so good, and the performances here just do not do it justice at all.
Big Fish & Begonia (also known as Da Yu Hai Tang) is not technically an anime since it is from China instead of Japan; however, it is a beautifully animated fantasy adventure with a lot of heart. The quality of the animation is on par with Disney or Studio Ghibli.
The story has a few plot holes and pacing issues, but overall, the emotional impact of the story telling makes this film a must watch. The story may feel familiar if you’ve watched Disney’s the Little Mermaid, or another Chinese animation from the 90s, Chinese Ghost Story. Despite the similar concepts, Big Fish & Begonia still manages to add its own unique twists and takes on concepts of forbidden love and reincarnation.
Title: Big Fish & Begonia (Da Yu Hai Tang)
Release Date: July 2016 (China) (Not yet licensed for North America)
Production: Bejing Enlight Media
Geeky: 5/5 – The production values are top notch. The quality of the animation, music, and acting are all on PAR with Disney or Studio Ghibli. Many consider this film to be the “dawn of animation” in China. It took 12 years to complete, and the level of dedication, time, care, and skill that went into making this film really shows.
Sweetie: 4/5 – I did decide to deduct one point for a few major plot holes and pacing issues. However, the themes of love (often times unrequited), life, death, and reincarnation make this film very “sweet” indeed. I was not expecting to cry as much as I did by the end!
Overall: 47/55 85% B “Very Good Anime For Girls”
Concept: 10/10 I am in love with the concept behind this film. I am a huge fan of Chinese Ghost Story and also the Little Mermaid.
I even prefer the old 80s Japanese version of the Little Mermaid over the Disney one (blasphemous, I know, right?). Don’t get me wrong, I love Disney’s Little Mermaid too. But the reason I love the non-Disney version so much is because of how sad it is.
Spoiler for the Japanese Little Mermaid below:
In the end, the prince marries another girl. The Little Mermaid’s sisters come to her with a poisoned dagger. If she chooses to kill the prince and his new bride, she can return back home with her family. However, the Little Mermaid only wishes for the prince’s happiness and cannot bring herself to harm him because she is so in love with him. As the sun rises, per her agreement with the Sea Witch, the Little Mermaid turns into sea foam and dies.
I know this sounds horrible to some people who always insist on watching movies with a happy ending, but I’ve always loved tearjerkers, even as a child. There’s just something so touching and sweet about this tragic tale. It also happens to follow the original story more closely as well.
So if we combine that 80s Little Mermaid with Chinese Ghost Story, we get something very similar to Big Fish & Begonia. Chinese Ghost Story is another beautifully animated Chinese film. (The animation was done by a Japanese studio). The story involves a young man who finds himself lost in a literal “Ghost Town”. All of the city’s inhabitants are spirits who have passed over. There, he meets a beautiful woman who also happens to be a ghost. Eventually the two of them fall in love; however, the only way for them to be together is for both of them to reincarnate back on earth.
Story: 7/10 The story of Big Fish and Begonia revolves around Chun, a young girl who has just become an adult in her society. Chun is from a mystical world. The movie describes the world by having Chun narrate that they are not gods, nor humans, but “others”.
In this mystical world, all adolescents become dolphins and journey to the human world for 7 days as a right of passage. During this time if they should come into contact with humans, they will not be allowed to return back to their own world.
However, a sea squall occurs which traps Chun in a fisherman’s net on her last day on Earth. The past few days, she has spent observing the humans and their world, especially one young human who loves the sea. This human sees that Chun is trapped in the net and swims out to save her.
Although he is able to free Chun from the fisherman’s net, he drowns in the storm. Chun tries to save him, but is only able to retrieve his ocarina. Chun can’t forget the young man or his grieving family even when she returns back to her own world.
Chun discovers that there may be a way to revive the young boy and return him back to his world. She trades half of her life in exchange for his. In doing so, she also irreversibly links together their two souls. Should one of them perish, so shall they both. To complicate matters, his soul must remain a fish until returning back to the human world. In Chinese legends, there was a big fish who could fly through the skies. Thus Chun names him after the fish of legend, Kun.
Many sad things happen along the way, but Chun resolves herself to complete her mission, even if it costs her her own life. As much as Chun cares for Kun, there’s another character who equally cares for Chun. He is her childhood friend named Qiu. With the same resolve that Chun takes to protect Kun, Qiu takes similar resolve to protect Chun, also willing if necessary to trade his life for hers.
Overall, I really enjoyed the film and loved the concept and story. My complaint with the story is the introduction of minor characters halfway through. They abandon certain concepts they have introduced, and create inconsistencies and plot holes. Here are a few examples.
1.) In theory, Chun should not have even been able to return back to her world. Contact with humans was forbidden. Yes, her world begins to suffer, and everyone turns against her. But, when the film starts, her mother warns her not to let the humans see her and tells her that another girl just took the journey and was unable to return for breaking this rule.
2.) At one point, a villain will escape into the human world. (You’ll know what I’m referring to if you watch the movie). After escaping into the human world, we never see or hear from this villain again. You would think it had some motive for wanting to go into the human world and that some consequences may occur in the human world as the result of introduction of this character. We’re never shown exactly what those consequences are.
3.) When returning to the human world, all memories are supposed to be erased; however, that doesn’t seem to happen. There’s also the issue or significance of the necklace that Chun is wearing at the end, that I don’t recall being explained. It seems the creators want your attention to be called to the necklace from the swinging and shining animation and camera zoom and pan given to that scene. What significance exactly did the necklace hold?
This next bit might be a Spoiler for the end of Big Fish and Begonia
4.) If you watch past the credits you see a scene with Qiu (possibly eluding to a sequel of some sort), and at the end of the credits you are told that the film is based on a Chinese legend about a brother (Qiu) who evoked an 8,000 year long autumn, and his sister, Chun, who evoked an 8,000 year long spring. Then we are led to believe that the Qiu and Chun in this film are the reincarnations of the ones in Chinese Legend. Chun even tells Qiu that she can’t love him because she thinks of him as her brother.
When we look at their respective magical ability, Chun with her flowering and plant growing, and Qiu with his fruit growing/harvesting, this also reinforces the idea that they are brother and sister. Also while researching this, I discovered that Chun is the Chinese word for Spring, and Qiu, the Chinese word for Autumn.
You can also do your own research into reading more about the Legend of Qiu and Chun. One such source that I found describes that they had an incestuous affair for many years, despite Chun later marrying for political reasons, and being separated by distance geographically. Despite the distance, their feelings for one another never diminished.
The problem that I have with this theory is just simply that Chun doesn’t love Qiu in this film which seems to be a direct contradiction to the ancient legend. If it was based on this Chinese legend, it seems that she would have also had feelings for him as well as, or maybe even more than, her feelings for Kun. Qiu very clearly has those feelings for Chun as he tells her that his only regret is having not held her in his arms on their final night together. However, Chun seems to only regard Qiu as a good friend, and nothing more.
Despite the inconsistency that this creates, I have to say, Qiu is my favorite character, and that one line of dialog, and the scene of their final night together, and Qiu’s sacrifice for Chun, really is my favorite part of this movie.
Characters: 8/10 Qiu makes this film for me. He begins as a bit of a child-like impish, practical jokester. By the end of the film, he has matured so much, and sacrifices so much as a result of his love and desire to protect Chun.
Chun likewise grows as a character, with her resolve to protect Kun. She goes against her elders, her mother, the people of her village. She is shunned as a result of breaking the laws of her people. While it would be easy to harbor a grudge against the people who have cast her out of their tribe, she instead endeavors to help them when tragedy befalls their home.
Chun also realizes what she was warned, that we cannot ever truly atone for our sins. As a result of helping Kun, other people begin to suffer. She realizes the weight and consequences of her actions; however, it is too late to change course.
Qiu learns a similar lesson. He asks how to save and help Chun, but the answer he receives eats away at him. He asks a shopkeeper if he has anything that can make him forget his sadness. The shopkeeper offers him a drink, but he warns it will also take away his happiness. He learns that in order to have happiness, you must also experience sadness.
The minor characters are also sources of wisdom and have a lot of heart, especially Chun’s grandparents who help her even after their own death.
I did deduct 2 points because there are some characters that are forgotten and abandoned, and even Kun himself feels underdeveloped as a character. It was hard for me to like the relationship of Kun x Chun because so much more development had been put into Qiu compared to Kun.
Animation: 5/5 This is one of the most beautifully animated films I have seen, not just from China, but from anywhere. It blends beautiful 2D and some nice 3D animation techniques. The fantasy world and characters are all unique and mesmerizing.
Voice Acting 5/5 Big Fish and Begonia is a very emotional film, and to pull that off, it makes use of talented voice actors who can capture and convey their feelings of love, guilt, grief, and despair.
Music: 3/5 Music also has a Disney-ish feeling and helps tell the story. I especially liked the song during the ending credits. There a few Disney-ish feeling “song/dance” skits, which can sometimes detract from the mature and dark feeling of the film; these are brief, but not as well handled in my opinion as similar scenes in Chinese Ghost Story, which makes great use of music interludes to tell their story. The music also doesn’t feel that memorable in Big Fish and Begonia, but it is overall, quite lovely.
Just finished watching “I’ve Always Liked You – Confess Your Love Committee” on Crunchyroll and had to immediately type up a review because that’s how much I enjoyed this anime. Everything about it was so relateable and the cute artwork and numerous vocal songs throughout made this just an amazingly memorable movie to watch.
I’ve been going through numerous tough times in my own relationships or lack there of, this year, breaking up with someone, trying to date other people, liking people that will never like me back, feeling awkward, nervous, excited, scared, sad, happy, overwhelmed at times even, or at times, just the reverse, dating people who liked me way more than I felt towards them.. So in that regard, I could relate to every single character and the overall theme of this anime in so many ways.
I think part of the reason we all love slice of life or romantic comedies is because it lets us escape into the lives of the characters, and have a happy ending, even if it’s not real, or not our own. We become attached to the characters, we care about what happens to them, and we want to see them be happy, because ultimately we feel that if they can achieve their dreams, then maybe there is hope for the rest of us after all.
Title: I’ve Always Liked You – Confess Your Love Committee
Length: 64 minutes – 1 movie so far, reportedly with a sequel in the works for release later this year.
Genre: Shoujo Slice of Life Romance Drama
Release Date: October 4th 2016
Geeky: 0/5 – Nothing geeky here. Very predictable, basic slice of life, with typical anime tropes, complete fluff, no action, adventure, or scifi, and no complex plot, or themes, so unless you’re into over-the-top “cuteness” and/or “relationship drama” this is a show you’ll want to pass.
Sweetie: 5/5 – The theme really hit home. Unrequited love is something we all experience. The cute artwork and pop music also make this anime very “sweet”.
Concept: 9/10 – This anime can jump around a bit, it tries to do a lot in a 64 minute timeframe. It would have worked better as a series. There’s really not a clear main character, with all of the characters getting pretty equal screentime and having equally complex relationship dilemmas. It is interesting how many vocal music tracks were used, more than I have ever seen in an anime feature length film before. This gave it a very “Disney” kind of feeling – you know how characters just burst into song. The songs help tell the story – and they’re good songs too. The lyrics to the songs hit home just as much as the character dialogue and story. Presentation values were very high, with excellent music, voice acting, and artwork. The writing, while extremely predictable, also felt extremely raw and real. All of the characters were likeable and relateable to anyone that’s ever struggled with their feelings.
Story: 8/10 – I love this anime because of the story, but that doesn’t mean it’s perfect. You know early on how this story will go, and what will happen. (Which I won’t reveal here). This doesn’t make it a bad anime by any means. Slice of life don’t really need mystery or suspense. What they need are characters that show significant growth and development. characters that draw you in, make you like them, care about them, and a central plot that draws from perhaps the author’s own experiences, or experiences that are very common to almost anyone from any walk of life – and this anime has all of those things. The story does jump around quite a bit though and that can be distracting at times. The basic premise is there are 3 couples, the first are childhood friends who are both too afraid to confess their feelings. The next is a pair of relatively new friends/acquaintances who aren’t really sure of their feelings yet and are in limbo somewhere between friends and dating, and the final pair consist of a guy with unrequited feelings for a girl for many years, and the girl being inexperienced and never really thinking much about love. There’s also a few love rivals and other outlying characters and issues throughout the film.
Characters: 8/10 – The characters are likeable, relateable, and they gradually begin to experience growth and mature to where many of them eventually overcome the obstacles facing their relationships. Watching them awkwardly work through their feelings, struggle, and fail, or struggle, and overcome their hardships, these things endear them to us. The artwork for the characters is also quite nice and drawn in a very cute style. The voice acting is also cute. The characters exude a lot of charm and work well in a shoujo setting. However, I feel like more could have been done given more time. I think the series does a good job of making all of the characters “main characters”, but for example, some of the truly minor characters, such as Nacchan’s brother and Setoguchi’s sister, their relationship is not fully explored – although there is a scene at the end of the credits with Setoguchi’s sister holding a love letter – but I kinda wonder if that letter is perhaps for Yukki who ends up being the only “odd man out” — if that’s the case though then Nacchan’s bro would become the “odd man out”– and the blonde pigtailed girl gets barely any screentime – do we even get to know her name? — Perhaps all of these things will be revealed if there is a sequel later this year as rumored.
Artwork: 5/5 – Nacchan reminds a lot of Lovely Complex – which I reviewed here. There, I criticized the female lead’s physical appearance for not being very kawaii (although some of my readers in the comments section clearly disagree). — However, although Nacchan has the same hairstyle and haircolor, Nacchan’s hair is more “fluffy” and flattering. Her bun is actually really kawaii! Later in the movie you also get to see her with her hair down as well. — Her fashion sense though is very boyish and strange — but you also get to see her dressup and be feminine later on too. Showing how multifaceted she is, makes her seem more real, more relatable, and ultimately more kawaii. — The other characters are also equally kawaii – my favorite for “Kawaii”factor is definitely Akari. I also really like Yukki. I think he was equally cute with his long hair and more modest appearance (which is shown only briefly as a flashback). The way everyone’s eyes are drawn is super beautiful too.
Music: 5/5 – Really would like to give it more than 5 points, but to keep it a bit consistant with my other reviews, we’ll go with this. – Music plays a huge vital role in this anime. Reading the lyrics is really important, It helps convey the characters’ feelings and emotions. I’ve never ever seen an anime feature length film with so many vocal tracks. There’s at least 5 or 6 music tracks. The ending music also when the credits roll continues to tell a story and seems to forshadow even college or adult life with some clips and brief animations as well. (in these illustrations the characters seem more mature, their hair is much longer, one of them is wearing a suit, etc. ) It’s definitely worth watching the ending credits. Plus there is a very brief scene after the credits as well. Like I mentioned, the vast amount of vocal tracks in this anime really give it an almost Disney-esque feeling. It’s definitely a memorable experience and makes me want to buy the soundtrack!
Voice Acting 5/5 – I loved all the character’s voices, Nacchan’s voice sounds more tomboyish, while Akari has a very kawaii voice, and the other girl very soft spoken, all 3 of them are very distinct and instantly recognizable.
Do you love Studio Ghibli films? Summer Days with Coo is not a Ghibli film, but it reminded me a lot of one. It’s a great family-friendly feature length anime that kids and adults can enjoy together.
It has a lot of cute characters and a heartwarming story. It’s pretty obscure with only 2,300ish “watched” on myanimelist and 600 watched on anime planet. Hopefully if you haven’t heard of it yet, this review will inspire you to check it out for yourself.
Title: Summer Days With Coo
Genre: Family / Fantasy Adventure
Release Date: 2007 (Japan) as far as I know as of the time of this review, it has still not been licensed in North America
Story: 10/10 My Summer with Coo is a feature-length family film about a young “baby” Kappa. Kappas are mystical creatures in Japanese folktales which are thought to lure humans into the river to kill them. You can read more about Kappa here. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kappa_(folklore) It’s really interesting, especially after having watched the movie.
It starts out about as tame/innocent as Totoro or other Ghibli films, but then it gets really dark. (Still family friendly though).
The movie begins hundreds of years before the events of the main story. Coo (the baby Kappa) is with his daddy in the river, when some drunken samurai come walking by. Kappa are curious in nature and when Coo’s father approaches the samurai, he startles them which provokes an attack. Coo is too young to survive on his own, and unable to return to his river.
He “Dries Up” and then our main story begins, when a young human boy in modern times uncovers his fossil one day on his way home from school. He takes the fossil home, and his family are surprised to discover it is a kappa. They nurse him back to health with food, water, and kindness. Kappas can speak Japanese, so Coo becomes a very close friend to everyone in the house.
Eventually, despite their efforts to hide Coo, it is discovered that the family is hosting a real Kappa. This draws much attention from the media and changes the lives of the family who begin to lose sight of what’s best for Coo.
Characters: 10/10 Coo (and Kappa in general) are what is referred to as Busukawaii or Ugly-Cute. This is a trend that’s gaining popularity the last few years in Japan. Something that’s so ugly, it’s actually kinda cute. I love all of the characters in this anime. Even the family’s pet dog has a really unique personality and big impact on the story and family and on Coo. It’s the characters and the look into their family that makes this anime so enjoyable that I’ve watched it 5 times now.
Graphics: 2/5 I’m not a fan of the character designs. I like more “anime” looking characters, big eyes, white dazzling skin, blue or pink hair, etc. lol. This is more like what I would think disney would do if it were to make a movie about Japan (very true-to-life looking characters, dark hair, dark skin, small eyes, etc). Coo is cute, but he’s also pretty ugly lol. Just kinda a hard movie to “watch” because it’s so out there and different from “mainstream” anime techniques.
Music: 5/5 I really love the music in this film. It ranges from peaceful, playful tracks reminding you of your summer vacations, to dark, depressing, or even aggressive sounding tracks when the mood of the film shifts later on in the story.
Voice Acting: 4/5 – Some of the voices didn’t seem to match the characters in my opinion, but the main characters all delivered their lines with a lot of emotion, and since it’s such an emotional rollercoaster of a film, the voice acting really aided with the immersion.
This was a joint production with a Russian studio and is based on a Russian Fairy Tale. – The only one I could find online was dubbed in Russian and had English subtitles. There are also Japanese and English voiced versions. The Russian one is not terrible though since the anime is “Set in Russia” and the characters themselves are supposed to be Russian.
Story: 10/10 I enjoyed the story immensely despite the age of the film and having watched it in Russian language. I think it’s an under rated and obscure anime. It is older than me, and probably older than most of my readers.
The story is about Anna, a young orphan girl whose step mother and step sister treat like a servant. One day, she meets a soldier sent from the palace looking for a Christmas tree (it’s called a new years tree, but similar to the western tradition of a pine tree at Christmas). She helps the soldier who tells her about the queen in the palace. It turns out the queen is just a child, and an orphan as well. The queen is very spoiled by her subjects and demands Snowdrop flowers even though her guards tell her it is impossible. The queen offers a basket of gold coins to whoever can find these flowers in the snow. Hearing this news, Anna’s stepmother sends her out to search for them. Cold and lost in a blizzard, Anna collapses. When she awakens she comes upon a bonfire with 12 strange cloaked figures. These figures represent the 12 months and each of them have a gift for Anna as they say she is a good girl and that they have been watching over her. In exchange Anna promises to keep their secret and returns home with her flowers. No one believes Anna and demands that she take them to the location where the flowers were picked. Anna bravely keeps her promise and as a result, magical things begin occurring within the forest.
Characters: 5/10 – The characters are very simplistic and basically cut/paste from nearly any children’s fairy tale. Wicked step mother and step sister, enslaved “good” child, woodland animals, princesses, and palace guards. Nothing terrible original or unique. The characters are charming but lack any depth beyond their stereotypical roles. This is not a very deep anime.
Artwork: 2/5 The artwork is cute in its own way but this anime is 40 years old now. This shows in both character style as well as animation techniques and even color palettes chosen throughout the film.
Music: 3/5 The music is just rather average and not bad nor amazing. It seems to fit well with the mood of the anime.
Actually both the artwork and the music are reminiscent of other animated films of the times back then, including the Lord of the Ring animated films.
Voice Acting: 3/5 – I watched the Russian version, I am sure the Japanese version is better – however, it wasn’t bad in Russian since it is based on a Russian fairy tale in the first place. The step mother and step sister had annoying voices, but I think that was intentional maybe since they were wicked.