To most, the word ‘anime’ conjures up images of children with eyes that are way too big, looking surprised under a spiky mane of improbably colored hair with high, squeaky voices spouting pseudo-silly clichés with little regard to the actual context of the aforementioned trite remarks.
The influences of the genre, though, are irrefutable; anime has exerted its style on a variety of medium, from artworks to video games, manga, television and movies. For far too long, my exposure to anime was relegated to the occasional video game, avoiding the genre and likely, if delving into the psyche a bit further than really warranted, avoiding it because it was popular and was only thought of as stereotyping in a superfluous way. That was rather snooty, to say the least.
Ok, get to the point … what does this have to do with movies and Filmjabber.com?
Venturing Into the Heart of Anime
Glad you asked! Netflix has recently added a host of episodic anime-animated adventures to the Instant Play section. Curiosity got the better of me and I decided it was time to have a look. And was I ever surprised at the offerings! Honestly, I was expecting something that could easily be dismissed with an “I knew this was trite!” attitude, but instead found deep and somewhat dark tales that touched on character flaws and situations in which the base aspects of human characters are on full display. The artistic style tempered the stories and toned down the depravity of some characters, but a couple of these were quite violent in nature, and compelling at the same time.
Two of the shows viewed were “Claymore” and “Witchblade” – the first episodes. While there were underpinnings of child neglect, and were both rather violent, the stories had depth and fit the art style perfectly. These were the first episodes of the series, and only a couple of the offerings. For those who have not experienced anime before, this is a somewhat free (OK, you have to pay the subscription price to get in the door but once the buffet is open, you can sample whatever you wish) chance to sample the style and see what it has to offer. Browse the story arcs to see what appeals to you and take a gander – you might be surprised.
On a Side Note… Ondine
New this past week on Netflix Instant Play (also available through the console players) is Ondine, the 2009 Neil Jordan film starring Colin Farrell and Alicja Bachleda. The film did not get wide play in the United States but is also worth a look. Jordan creates a solid tale that centers on the hopes of a fisherman who is sorely in need of a reason to smile at the future. The film starts off with Syracuse (the fisherman) pulling in his nets and finding a young woman among the catch. His daughter, who is suffering from kidney failure, believes the woman to be a selkie, and the movie plays upon that fairytale notion, feeding it and drawing the audience into the enchantment. But many fairytales have an element of darkness and when it comes to play, the truth about much is revealed in an ending that hits quickly and can leave the feeling of “wow! I did not see that coming!”
The movie is well acted and the cinematography of Christopher Doyle creates the right mood for the story. The music is also very good. You can also read another Ondine movie review here.