2 stars (out of 4)
This animated adaptation of late author Project Itoh’s zombie novel takes place in a steampunk 19th century Europe in which “corpse reanimation technology” has been accepted by society as a way to provide laborers to serve the living. However, these undead never retain their souls.
Medical student John Watson secretly reanimates the body of his friend and research partner, but becomes obsessed with finding a method to return his soul as well. He gets the opportunity to search worldwide for the records of Dr. Victor Frankenstein’s work when he teams up with the British government, who also want the notes for different reasons.
First of all, the movie looked great; the art and animation were absolutely top-notch. That would be the one good reason to watch it.
The plot itself was all serious and philosophical, but it honestly didn’t make much sense to me. While it was simple to follow what was happening from scene to scene, understanding why was something else entirely. It’s kind of a failure if the audience can’t reasonably tell why the protagonists made the choices that they did, or how the villain was doing whatever he was doing (re-creating GUILTY CROWN’s Lost Christmas?…), or even what governed the behaviour of the zombies.
The name-drops of famous literary figures didn’t seem to add anything to the story either. And it was not that clear whether the ending had anything to do with Watson’s initial goal.
I confess I’ve never understood the romanticism of zombies; this film didn’t help to enlighten me.
Anyway, after watching The Empire of Corpses, my sister and I also went and re-watched the fourth episode of Space Dandy. It covered similar musings of achieving world (or universal) peace through mass zombification – except that it was conveyed much more succinctly and enjoyably.
3 stars (out of 4)
A self-imposed curse caused Naruse Jun to lose her ability to speak following a traumatic event in her childhood. Now in high school, Jun and 3 of her classmates are enlisted to head a community outreach committee and put together a class play.
The basic setup of putting on a musical, with the challenges that ensue, is pretty routine stuff which follows all the familiar plot points of a typical play-within-a-play storyline. That said, it is carried out fairly competently here, and the solutions that the kids arrive at are realistic.
All in all, I enjoyed the film. I was invested in Jun and her classmates and I liked how they inspired and learned from each other. There was a romantic subplot as well, but I think it was clear that that was secondary to the more general friendship theme, which is how it should be.
Also, I wouldn’t have minded seeing more of that musical that they were putting on; the parts which were shown looked pretty ambitious and impressive.
3.5 stars (out of 4)
Released 2015 (in Japan)
Inspector Akane Tsunemori gets a lead on Shinya Kougami’s whereabouts from the Chief and leaves the country to look for him. PSYCHO-PASS: THE MOVIE further expands on the benefits and risks of the mental-state profiling Sibyl System, including ways of misuse, as Japan exports the technology to a corrupt, war-torn nation known as SEAUn.
There are many great action sequences throughout the film. Cinematography and sound effects are on par with those of a Hollywood movie as well.
The theatrical version is English-dubbed. At the time that I ordered my ticket, however, the screening was listed as Japanese with subtitles, and I haven’t completely forgiven the switcheroo. To be fair, Funimation really did an excellent job with this English edition. If it wasn’t for the fact that I had already seen 2 previous seasons of PSYCHO-PASS with the Japanese voices, I would have had zero issues with the dub.
You don’t need to watch PSYCHO-PASS 2 before seeing this film. (In fact, don’t watch season 2 – it was terrible.) You don’t even need to watch the first season, apparently. We saw the film with several people who only had basic knowledge of Psycho-Pass and the Sibyl System and they were able to follow everything with very little difficulty. Obviously, you can get more out of the interpersonal dialogue if you’re familiar with the events of season one, but it isn’t essential to the enjoyment of the film.
I can pretty much recommend PSYCHO-PASS: THE MOVIE for anyone, even non-anime fans, who appreciates dystopian sci-fi with a serving of action, intrigue, and exploding criminals.
3 stars (out of 4)
Released 2013 (in Japan)
Taking place a year after the events of the 2011 TV series, the anohana movie expands on the group’s past through the eyes of each surviving member as they compose letters to their lost friend, Menma.
This film is comprised of a significant amount of reused footage interspersed with new material. In spite of this, it is recommended to watch the series first, as it can be difficult to tell which scenes are from the past and which are in the present if you are not already familiar with the story. And, there’s no straightforward recap about Menma’s death or how her return as a ghost brought the Super Peace Busters back together, either.
All in all, I found the film to be a satisfying continuation of the series. It was a nice way to revisit these old friends. While I personally had no trouble remaining dry-eyed throughout, be aware that this movie can be quite the tearjerker for more sensitive viewers.