Tag Archives: Anime

tv + film by Philbert Dy

Teenage Loneliness Takes Center Stage in ‘A Silent Voice’

This anime film offers a nuanced look at the problem of school bullying.

NBHD movie 4 ticketsA Silent Voice is about Ishida Shoya (Mayu Irino), a teenager who in elementary school school bullied the hearing impaired Nishimiya Shoko (Saori Hayami) along with the rest of his class. He was later blamed for everything, and was treated as a pariah by his classmates. Now in high school, lonely and seeking some sort of redemption, Ishida attempts to befriend Nishimiya. But the wounds inflicted don’t heal so easily, especially when other people get involved. And all the while, Ishida questions his own motives, wondering if he deserves redemption at all.Screen Shot 2017-05-12 at 2.15.15 PMThis film is a pretty nuanced look at the effects of bullying, and the story is anchored on the very simple truth that self-loathing comes easily. The film takes the rather bold approach of showing empathy for everyone involved, digging into the insecurity and the guilt that emerges in all of these characters as they develop a measure of emotional maturity. No one is acquitted of his or her wrongdoing, but no one is totally condemned, either. There is a radical streak of understanding that gives this story its compelling heft.Screen Shot 2017-05-12 at 2.18.38 PMThe movie opens on a blitz of action that has the audience playing catch up to the main character’s emotional state. What at first seems like random scenes of him doing errands and marking dates off a calendar takes on bracing new meaning in an instant. The film offers the same economical storytelling as it takes a detour into the past, a credits sequence detailing happier times establishing what exactly was lost. Shoya was a carefree kid that everybody seemed to like, but that would soon go away as everyone gets taken out of his or her respective comfort zones.Screen Shot 2017-05-12 at 2.17.51 PMThe film slows down considerably as we move back to the present and start sketching out Shoya’s path to penance. But the deliberate pace feels necessary. The movie seems to recognize just how much these characters are unable to say. All they can do is make clumsy attempts at trying to fix things, their actions never directly addressing the problems at hand. Because within these limited contexts of teenage interaction, where relationships are fuzzy and strange and new, it is difficult to just be honest. Frankness, it seems, quickly becomes harshness, and there is a fear that being forthright will only lead to more wedges being driven between people.Screen Shot 2017-05-12 at 2.16.00 PMIt’s a really smart depiction of teenage politics, of the social barriers that prevent young people from confronting their problems and push them to take drastic, often tragic action. The film takes its time, and lets the quiet reality take the fore as it paints out the roiling emotions just underneath these teenage exteriors. It might have done more on the animation side to visualize those feelings. It takes a surprisingly conservative approach to the visuals. While the art is pretty, it rarely strays from literal depiction. Given the subject matter, it seems to squander the opportunity to give shape to its more abstract ideas.Screen Shot 2017-05-12 at 2.17.07 PMA Silent Voice gets to some really interesting places. It’s a pretty small story when all is said and done, the whole thing occurring within the very limited context of teenagers and the way they interact with each other. But this is a film that understands how everything can be amplified at that age; how little bits of everyday unkindness might burrow in a psyche, eventually becoming a matter of life or death. The film could have taken a much more daring visual route in translating these concepts, but its narrative approach in itself feels rather bold. In its smallness, it allows its teenage characters to be more than the usual archetypes. They are living, breathing creatures with inner lives that are never adequately expressed by their words.

A SILENT VOICE IS NOW SHOWING IN SELECT CINEMAS.
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Philbert Dy
Philbert Ortiz Dy has been reviewing movies professionally since 2007, and has thus dedicated his life to being yelled at by fans of literally everyone. He is currently the Online Editor of Rogue.ph. Yell at him on Twitter at @philbertdy.
tv + film by Philbert Dy

‘Your Name’ is Three Great Stories Bound Together as a Thrilling Romance

This is a story about comets and magic and body switching, but at its heart it’s really just a story about being in love.

NBHD movie 5 ticketsYour Name concerns two teenagers. Mitsuha (Mone Kamishirashi) is the daughter of the mayor of a small mountain town in the western part of Japan. Taki (Ryûnosuke Kamiki) lives in Tokyo with his father. There doesn’t seem to be any connection between the two, except two to three times a week, seemingly at random, they wake up in each other’s body. Now for most films, this body switch mechanic would be the whole story. But Your Name basically rushes through the two trying to make the best out of the situation, revealing a much deeper, much more emotional cosmic narrative as it goes on.
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There’s a lot more to this movie than the seemingly cutesy premise. The film really starts taking off when these two characters start trying to look for each other. It turns out that neither Mitsuha nor Taki can exactly remember their time inside the other’s body. The memories fade like a distant dream, leaving only a vague longing. And it turns out that the separation between them may be more than just geographic. The film ends up bending time and space itself as it sketches out this delicate romance between two people connected by the cosmos in a completely inexplicable and latently tragic way.

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The story just goes in unexpected directions. It plays out as three separate chapters, each with its own distinct style and tone. The first third is a funny little comedy about a very strange situation. The second part is like a Haruki Murakami story, documenting an odd romantic search for a memory that isn’t quite there, for a love that might not even be possible. And the third part is an adventure climax that offers up a thrilling race against time. And it all works together, the three fantastical sections all grounded with the same depth of feeling. This is a story about comets and magic and body switching, but at its heart it’s really just a story about being young and confused and in love.

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And it all looks amazing, too. The visuals also contribute to holding this weirdly massive story together. The character animation is simple, but crisp. And when the film decides to go stylized, the result is just gorgeous. But where the film really comes alive is in the background. The digitally painted backdrops are just brimming with life in a way that just undeniably beautiful. No one draws a sky like Makoto Shinkai, and every time this film tilts the camera up, it evokes a sense of wonder that goes beyond what should be possible with a drawing.screen-shot-2016-12-14-at-2-50-01-pm
The film does rely a bit too much on montages that play out like music videos. It at times feels like it’s forced to rush through things, and it’s just relying on the music to convey the relevant emotions at any given portion. Thankfully, the music, provided by the Japanese band Radwimps, is pretty catchy. The soundtrack seems to have been conceived as a whole album from the band, and one does get a sense of how they all fit together.

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Your Name is a thrilling piece of animation. It just goes so big and so strange, unafraid to go into grander, more complex directions as it tells this story of two kids who don’t really know how they’re connected. It just starts to tell a story about Japan as a whole, about the neuroses of a generation growing up in a nation still so in touch with tradition while also being one of the most modern, technologically advanced places in the world. The film brings them together underneath the same beautifully drawn sky, looking through past, present, and future for whatever it is that they’re supposed to be looking for.

YOUR NAME OPENS IN LOCAL CINEMAS ON DECEMBER 15.
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Philbert Dy
Philbert Ortiz Dy has been reviewing movies professionally since 2007, and has thus dedicated his life to being yelled at by fans of literally everyone. He is currently the Online Editor of Rogue.ph. Yell at him on Twitter at @philbertdy.