Boy Who Saw The Wind - Mania.com



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Mania Grade: B+

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Info:

  • Audio Rating: A
  • Video Rating: A+
  • Packaging Rating: B+
  • Menus Rating: B+
  • Extras Rating: A
  • Age Rating: All
  • Region: 2 - Japan
  • Released By: Adult Source Media
  • MSRP: �4700
  • Running time: 97
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Boy Who Saw The Wind

Boy Who Saw The Wind

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Release Date: March 07, 2001


Boy Who Saw The Wind
© Adult Source Media


What They Say
A moving anime show based on the book by C.W. Nicol. It's a coming of age story about a boy with a special power who faces many obstacles in growing up.

The Review!
Kazuki Omori, veteran Godzilla director (Godzilla vs King Ghidorah, Godzilla vs Biorrante) and screenwriter (Godzilla vs Mothra), turns his talents to anime, and produces a visually stunning film that is very much a tribute to Hayao Miyazaki?s works. However, this film suffers in comparison to the Ghibli films which it emulates, and ultimately fails to live up to its potential.

Technical Review:

The video of this film is technically superb. Say what you will about Disney, but they know how to make beautiful DVDs. The film is presented in an anamorphic 16:9 format, and the video transfer is flawless, with nary a film defect to be seen. Subtle details are preserved, and the colours are magnificent.

The film makes effective use of Dolby Digital 5.1, with good directionality especially during the swooping flight scenes that contribute to the visual and aural splendor of the film. The musical score is beautifully reproduced in all its glory.

English subtitles are good, with no glaring grammatical errors and no major deviations that I noticed during the show (bear in mind my grasp of Japanese is extremely basic). A very few phrases are left inexplicably untranslated, but in general they are easily understood from context and from casual familiarity with the Japanese language. Please note that this happens very, very rarely, so it should not be seen as a minus to the disc.

Content Review:

Ah, this is the hard part. I so wanted to give this film a higher rating. It was beautifully drawn and animated. The cinematography was top-notch. Unfortunately, it was let down by a predictable plot and some poor pacing. It also didn?t help that the film was consciously imitating Hayao Miyazaki?s films, and suffered from the comparison with these classics. In the end, I gave the film a B+ rating, as I felt it was buoyed up by its visual splendour and production values, and also because I know that I am more critical than most people.

The film is set in an alternate world at the technological stage of pre-World War I Europe. The world is populated with zeppelins and three-wheeled automobiles reminiscent of Buckminsterfuller?s concept cars of the turn of the century. The feel of an alien yet familiar world that they have captured is quite impressive, even if it is a bit derivative of Nausicaa, Castle in the Sky, Porco Rosso etc. It begins in an unconventional manner, with a pair of doves scoffing at boys on airborne rides at a fair. The birds remark that it is silly for humans to try and fly, since it is impossible for them to do so, but are contradicted by the statue they are perched on. The statue then proceeds to tell them the story of?

?Amon, a boy who flew in the skies. We see Amon when he was a ten-year old boy, living in the outskirts of a city with his father and mother. His father, a renowned scientist, is amazed when he finds that Amon can manifest magical energy which he terms ?light-play?. While researching Amon?s abilities, he is contacted by the leader of the militant order of the city, Brannik, who wants Amon?s father to create a weapon for him.

Refusing the order, Amon?s father decides to flee the city, but are pursued by Brannik?s Gold Snake soldiers. Following a thrilling car chase reminiscent of The Castle of Cagliostro, but much much darker, Amon?s car crashes and he is brought onto Brannik?s airship.

On board the airship, he sees a golden eagle flying in the skies, who tells Amon that he is one of the fabled ?Wind Folk?, that once soared on the skies but are now extinct. The eagle teaches Amon to fly, and he escapes Brannik?s airship.

After several adventures, Amon finds himself in a primitive fishing village, where he has been taken in by the family of Maria, a young girl his age. After several sequences where Amon becomes acquainted with the idyllic pace of life in the village and gets to know Maria, the movie takes a darker turn when Brannik and his Gold Snakes attack the village. What will become of Amon and Maria?

The greatest flaw in this film is in its overly simplistic bent. In a stark (and only) contrast from the Ghibli films, good is irreproachably good and evil is irrevocably evil. The villains are total archetypes to the extent that they are practically one-dimensional, and the treatment of good and heroism is one of unflinching na�v�t�. It is no wonder that Disney chose to release this film over many of the more complex Ghibli films which it also holds the rights to.

Nowhere is the heavy-handed moralising of the director more evident than in its repetitive message that industrialism is bad bad BAD and that pastoralism is GOOD. There are one or two instances where this message approaches lyricism, as in the depiction of the denuoement of the Wind Folk when they were seduced by materialism, evoking a fall from grace both metaphysically and literally, and drawing comparisons to the Biblical tale of Adam and Eve?s expulsion from Eden.

However, the typical adult viewer may feel insulted by the director?s aforementioned heavy-handedness, and the film is rather a little dark at times for the tots, meaning it straddles an uncomfortable middle ground where it is too scary too be heartwarming to children and too obviously trying to tug at heartstrings to be embraced by adults.

Nonetheless, if you approach the film with a forgiving nature, there is much to like as well. The animation is absolutely beautiful, with stunning backdrops and sweeping vistas. Characters are well drawn, with a somewhat innocent look for Amon and Maira and a menacing cast to Brannik (OK, we get it. Bad guys look bad. Guys that look bad are BAD GUYS.) Everyone else is drawn somewhat more naturalistically. There is substantial use of digital effects, from digital compositing to create crowd scenes to 3D background effects. All of these are handled quite well and blend seamlessly into the film.

Once you get past the inherent flaws in the execution of the story, it actually manages to engage you in the plights of Amon and his friends. And in a brilliant moment of redemption, the ending is both meaningful and satisfactory.

So check in your grumpy face at the door, leave off your criticism, and come along for the ride. You?ll enjoy it.

Features
Japanese Language,English Subtitles,Japanese Subtitles,Character Descriptions,Theatrical & TV Trailers,Interviews with the Voice Actors,Making Of Video Segment,Full Length Music Video for the Theme Song

Review Equipment
Kenwood DVF-3030 DVD Player, Grundig Xentia 82cm 16:9 TV, Sony HTK-215 5.1 Surround system

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