Animated Classics of Japanese Literature: The Sound of Waves Parts 1&2/Growing Up - Mania.com



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Mania Grade: B+

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Info:

  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: B
  • Packaging Rating: B+
  • Menus Rating: B+
  • Extras Rating: C-
  • Age Rating: 3 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: Central Park Media
  • MSRP: 29.98
  • Running time: 75
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Animated Classics of Japanese Literature

Animated Classics of Japanese Literature: The Sound of Waves Parts 1&2/Growing Up

By Luis Cruz     January 09, 2006
Release Date: February 11, 2003


Animated Classics of Japanese Literature: The Sound of Waves Parts 1&2/Growing Up
© Central Park Media


What They Say
The Sound of Waves: Parts 1 & 2 by Mishima Yukio
A poor fisherman falls in love with the daughter of the most powerful man in his village. To overcome this obstacle, he must prove his bravery in a terrible sea storm.

Growing Up by Higuchi Ichiyo
Two friends are torn apart when one joins a gang, betraying the bond of trust between them.

The Review!
A slice of love and a slice of life are presented in two more Animated Classics of Japanese Literature.

Audio:
The only track present was the original Japanese mono audio; music and dialogue are crisp and balanced well. Given the age of the title, the audio track was surprisingly free of any hiss, distortion, or other issues that would detract from the viewing experience.

Video:
Produced in 1986, the print for this title was remarkably clean bearing only a few noticeable instances of scratches and other print damage. Also, the digital transfer did produce any noticeable artifacts making for an enjoyable visual experience. While not as lush as modern day titles, the colors were warm and bright matching the unique animation style used.

Packaging:
A collage of images from the stories is set against a parchment paper background on the front cover. The "Animated Classics" title is prominent across the top with the individual story titles and their authors just underneath. The back cover features the requisite screenshots, synopses, and disc details in a clean, readable format.

Rather than an insert for the chapter listings, the case is transparent allowing the reverse side of the cover to contain black and white images, the chapter listings, and a production credits.

Menu:
The menus feature a static image to the left of the screen with the menu items to the right with music looping in the background. Transition delays are negligible allowing the viewer to quickly access the disc content.

Extras:
The extras are divided up between content accessible by a stand-alone player and by a DVD-ROM player. Stand-alone players can only access brief biographies of the authors along with a quick synopsis of the actual story. The DVD-ROM content is simply a few screen captures from each story along with the script used.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Much of the classic literature around the world deals with love that should not be; whether it is class distinctions or feuding families keeping them apart, readers continue to enjoy well written tales about two lovers attempting to overcome all obstacles. The Sound of Waves is one such tale in Japan, one that manages to have a happy ending.

Shinji is a poor fisherman doing his best to support his mother and younger brother; his head is filled with dreams of earning enough to buy his own boat and be able to provide them with much more. Little else is on his mind until he meets Hatsue, the daughter of the village's wealthiest resident. The two fall madly in love with each other, but a jealous tongue begins to spread rumors about them and threatens to keep them apart.

Eventually, Shinji proves what sort of man he is to everyone and wins Hatsue's hand in marriage. This happy ending may sound maudlin, but it is handled skillfully as the story draws the viewer into cheering Shinji on to success. His character is very genuine and honest; he works hard to build a better life for others first and himself second.

Where this version falls short is the standard problem of trying to condense a novel down into less than sixty minutes of screen time. The story moves rapidly giving very little time to develop the other characters and their motivations; however, the purpose of a series like this is to entice the viewer into reading the original work. In that regard, this was an unqualified success; it made me want to find the novel so I could not only read a touching, honest love story but also to read a story that gives more insight into the life of a Japanese fishing village.

The term "slice of life" is often used to describe an anime story that revolves around what we would consider normal life; usually, it is a story about a high school student growing up and finding their first and possibly true love. While it presents a slice of life, the purpose of the story is fairly clear and builds to a specific ending meant to leave the viewer with a specific message or feeling. On the surface, the story Growing Up certainly presents a slice of life from a group of children growing up in the early Meiji period but might frustrate viewers with its lack of a concrete ending.

Midori is the younger sister of a prominent geisha; her circle of friends is torn apart by a misunderstanding. It ends on an ambiguous note as the group has grown up but little seems to be resolved between them. This ambiguity is likely caused again by having to trim down a story to fit the allotted screen time; you never get a good sense of who these children are and what is influencing their development.

However, the message I feel the author tries to present still lurks under the surface; the story is a true slice of life as it shows that things in life happen, and we all try to deal with them the best we can. Rather than aiming for a specific ending, happy or otherwise, or a specific message, it simply presents the days in the lives of some ordinary children and how they deal with them. While not a story everyone will enjoy, it was one I could understand why it is considered a classic.

Both stories contained the unique animation style that has made the other volumes in the series delightful. It continues to feel like Japanese paintings come to life allowing the animation to enhance the ambiance of the story and draw the viewer into a particular time period.

In Summary:
While everyone is sure to love the story of The Sound of Waves, Growing Up will not appeal to everyone. But having both of them on the same volume gives the viewer an appreciation for the different takes Japanese literature has on presenting stories of everyday life. Both stories contain elements viewers of nearly any age can relate to and appreciate, and both are beautifully animated. This should be mandatory viewing for anyone truly interested in learning about Japanese culture and art beyond what the world of anime and manga holds.

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language,English Subtitles

Review Equipment
Mitsubishi 27" TV, Panasonic RP-82, Sony STR-DE915 DD receiver, Bose Acoustimass-6 speakers, generic S-Video and optical audio cable

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