Following "Shisha no Teikoku (The Empire of Corpses)", this is the
second feature length anime adaptation of Itoh Keikaku's three novels.
Similar to that film, "Harmony" tackles an alternate universe (this
time set in future), where the world has achieved a whole new different
level of human life-style. And also similar to "Shisha no Teikoku", its
ideas have been over-cooked by pretentiousness.
It was always going to be a tall order to adapt a novel by Itoh Keikaku (SF writer who met premature death in 2009). The danger is that it is very easy to over-indulge and lose its audience. Or you could turn it into an action flick and fail to capture the novel's message. With "Harmony", it is the former case.
The film opens with an action sequence (something that might whet some viewers' appetite but it's the only action scene in the film on this scale) which triggers the main character's return to her home country, Japan. There she meets with her childhood friend who proceeds on to stabbing herself in the neck in front of our protagonist during their lunch together. Here's where the problems arise. The scene where it is supposed to be of a great shock to the viewers only achieves a "meh" response due to the fact that the film taking everything slow and calm. There's no sense of urgency to this scene but just plain repugnance to the visual display of blood fountain.
Every location, every dialogue and every character interaction in this film feel like the viewers are meant to meditate upon them. Characters appear and look important to the plot but then he or she disappears and we never see them again (the smuggler, the step-mother of another major character, the doctor, the comrades, the other doctor etc). The enigmatic dialogue seems to never get to the point which leaves the audience wishing for subtitles and pause button to decipher what conversation took place.
Another problem is the visuals. Normally I'd be praising a Japanese animation's visuals saying how my eyes grow watery just by looking at the screen. But not here. That is not to say the film looks horrible, but it actually does in comparison to other animated films made in Japan. "Shisha no Teikoku" had lots of problems as well but that film at least had top notch visuals. Here, everything lacks texture. Characters' faces look very strange in some scenes, architecture look absurdly inconvenient, the future environment shown in the film is very unremarkable and nothing leaves much of an impression. It doesn't help that the damn camera is constantly swaying around instead of focusing on something. It's always either moving around its characters or showing something else (like scenery for example).
Now, the film does have its charm. Our main protagonist, Tuan Kirie, is a strong female (and lesbian at that) character with consciousness and does not have big breasts. Mystery element that fuels the film is Miach Mihie, who has eerie vibe radiating from her just by her standing around in the scene. Her charm is seductive and it's no wonder Tuan is dominated by her in childhood. The plot does make logical steps up to some point and is very interesting. Anime fans will enjoy the "End of Eva"-vibe as the film progresses. The world-building also works greatly in the film's favor which amplifies the tragedy once it gets violent. Some segments of the film which relies on dialogue in tell-not-show style is done nicely too.
Although I kind of liked the film for above reasons, there's constant sense that it should have been better. That it could have been better by giving it more urgency, making it more shocking and critical in social commentary (Japan does have high teen suicide rate). It's another disappointment for "Project Itoh". Here's hoping "Genocidal Organ" is better. Much better.
Animation / Sci-Fi / Thriller
Animation / Sci-Fi / Thriller
In an utopian, futuristic world, where humanity has acquired eternal life, a young high ranked agent of the world's leading health company investigates a wave of suicides.
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October 15, 2017 at 08:16 AM